It’s been a very busy week in geek-land, and now after 3 events in 5 days and waaay too much strong coffee, I’m gonna start to tie all the confused threads together. Please forgive me if this lacks cohesion, I’m suffering from serious information overload. As these events have been very widely blogged about, photographed, live-blogged, miniblogged and videotaped. I don’t feel the need to go into too much detail, so here are some general impressions from Wordcamp 2008 (23rd Aug, Wild Fig); the Heavy Chef Session (27th Aug, Media 24) and the 27 Dinner (27th Aug, Ferryman’s tavern) in no particular order.
The take home feel-good inspiration I got from Saturday’s WordCamp was that “software wants to be free”. This whole business of creative commons, freeware, open source, to my mind, is one of the most exciting things happening *on this planet* at the moment. It’s SO exactly the opposite of the yuppie-money-power-grabbing reality of the 80’s and early 90’s (well portrayed in American Psycho!).
It’s ALSO so far away from my imaginings of that brilliant but sleazy software developer hunched over his machine for 76 hours straight creating clever things to make Microsoft money and living off baked beans and cat food, until one day it hits him that he’s been DBF’d and turns his skills to creating nasty little viruses, cos let’s face it, he *can*, he’s pissed off and he needs a creative outlet.
To me the whole open*, share-the-love concept totally transcends the software / copy / code itself, and moves collective thought from ‘me, my, mine’ to ‘ours, us, we’. I have to say it – the sharing thing is totally bringing to mind new age, hippy, flower-child-mojo vibes.
Of course in the midst of all this lurve-sharing, room is made to make money, in a way that can only be described as the marketing antithesis of all things sordid (read: dodgy second-hand car-dealers, estate agents, etc). This topic was addressed very eloquently at Wordcamp by Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress and Automattic. Let me say at this point, watching Matt’s presentation was the highlight of my day (you can view it here). I didn’t have a clue who he was when he stood up to speak (I offer no excuses for being a n00b), and when I found out I could not actually believe that this guy was “MR WordPress” himself. He is such a normal, funny, down-to-earth guy whose stellar success doesn’t seem to have gone to his head in any perceptible way. His key message- selling software is dying!
There’s a good brief summary of his talk on Joe’s blog .
Rob Stokes of Quirk reinforced the idea of sharing for profit at the Heavy Chef session (hosted by World Wide Creative, our new zen-website masters…w00t!). Rob is a fantastic speaker with effusive energy – I’ve been fortunate enough to see Rob speak before at two of Quirk’s e-marketing breakfasts which tackled similar subject matter. His presentation summarised some of the key elements in Quirk’s new publication ‘An Introduction to eMarketing‘, a fantastic e-marketer’s bible of sorts, launched under creative commons (yipeeee) and available for download here.
What stood out for me, and has been doing so for a while now, is that consumers are increasingly tired of having information rammed down their throats (especially when you’re trying to sell something intangible such as we at the DA do – futures, dreams, ideas – and for a currency that can’t be seen – votes)
I reckon they are tired of information overload, pressure to buy the generally invasive nature of marketing…like Rob said, nowadays, if you want to make money from someone or even just gain their attention, you have to offer them something of value first – be it interesting info in an e-newsletter if you’re a consultancy, or a free photo stock gallery with the option to buy ‘premium’ pictures if you’re an online photo gallery…you get the idea. I personally love the sharing culture in the field of design which I work in – there are literally zillions of free design elements out there (brushes, textures, vectors, fonts) as well as kickass tutorials etc, which I very much take for granted without often stopping to reflect on the *coolness* of free stuff* and generous people. Kudo’s to you all!
The free-love mojo’s influence actually seems to have spread as far as defining a new “currency” in the small circle that is geekdom. One of the first things I noticed when I started coming to 27 dinners and the like was the jealously guarded possession and almost fanatical attachment to t-shirts…the getting of t-shirts, the wearing of t-shirts and the ways and means to get more t-shirts seemed uppermost in many minds.
Wednesday’s 27 dinner was no exception where the legal tender ranged from blog-posts to firelighters, braai tongs, Stormhoek wines, and of course, t-shirts! Not being a t-shirt wearer myself I naturally felt quite left out and began wondering, being a natural collector (a *champion* collector of Smurf stickers in my day), if I should be collecting them anyway. Then the thought struck me…guys…these are men’s t-shirts. There are geek chicks out here who want to collect stuff too. Make geek chick t-shirts – your logos will look way better on us! Just a thought.
I cannot say too much about the talks at 27, because I really couldn’t hear much (sorry Dave, the sound really did *suck*- I suppose it didn’t help that I was sitting at the back of the class with the other naughty kids), but good vibes anyway – was delighted to run into Mudthang again, as well as me old smoking buddy Stii, and Lester Hein, a brand sparkly new acquaintance who inhabits the same demon-stalked hell that is email marketing that I do..well met, mate! I was also lucky enough to meet Paul Vechiatto from ITWeb. The man is a veritable goldmine of information, with a fantastic sense of humour to boot. Another thing I love doing at these events is putting names to faces and it was great to meet Pam Sykes and Eve D and to see Jo Duxbury, Feisty Female, and Kerry-Anne Gilloway again.
Naturally the one entity that always appears at these things is the legendary Brandon Golding and his even more legendary camera which, pending the outcome of the next set of photographs, may be geographically relocated to a place where ‘the sun does not shine’ by yours truly.
As I said, much blogging has been done on these events:
Fred Roed on Heavy Chef
*note the terms ‘open’ and ‘free’ are not absolute – for more info on creative commons, click here