While reading Jori Finkel’s piece in the New York Times on Machine Project’s LACMA invasion, I was struck by something that Margaret Wertheim said:
I don’t know of any city other than L.A. with so many feral groups.
Now while she was referring to the Los Angeles art scene, this sort of applies to the tech scene here as well. There are plenty of folks trying to make this city relevant when it comes to tech. A streamlined, less paunchy version of Silicon Valley that does yoga and drinks wheatgrass. And that’s fine. They can keep doing that. But to lift a quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.”
I’m not really talking about them tho. Honestly, the most interesting shit that is going on in this sprawl is on the fringe. Groups like Dorkbot SoCal & Betalevel and meetings like Mindshare are where people are doing the really sexy, fun, creative stuff. Well, the stuff that’s worth paying attention to at least.
Seeing as how I’ve helped foster it along, why would I exclude BarCampLA from that tiny (and rather incomplete) list above? Well, first of all, my ego isn’t that big.
Most importantly tho, it isn’t one of those feral members of the fringe anymore. Sure, it may have been a bit of a wild dog in the past, but as time goes on, it has become domesticated. With well over 300 people wandering in and out over two days and the schedule slowly seeing product pitches, SEO talks and social media chatter dominating the landscape, it’s sort of losing some of its original charm.
Think I’m crazy for saying that? Consider BazCampLA. A “mad science only” event, their plan is to get together about two weeks before the next BarCampLA to make sure their technical talks are well tuned and ready for the big show. From the chatter that I’ve seen, they’re sort of worried that this will be seen as a condemnation of BarCampLA. A middle finger to its participants and the Los Angeles tech scene as a whole. But totally I get what they’re trying to do — and I admire their goals.
Frankly, I hope the BazCampers either take the schedule at the next BarCamp over by force or they end up building a framework for a better event. Like one that would make BCLA obsolete and allow me to take a vacation. Lord knows that I could use the rest… ;)