On August 3-5 I participated in the Sci Foo Camp at Google in Mountain View. “Foo” is friends of O’Reilly, which is a high tech publishing company, and main sponsor of the event. “Sci Foo Camp’ compliments the ordinary “Foo Camp” which is more computers/internet and less science. So the Sci Foo participants were an impressive bunch of cosmologists (Freeman Dyson, Roger Penrose), sci fi writers (Greg Bear, Neil Stephenson, Kim Robinson), iconoclasts (Bjorn Lomborg), famous people (Martha Stewart) and hangers-on, like me.
One of the most interesting things about the conference was its completely self-organizing agenda. Friday night there were these big boards (below) with rooms across the top, and one-hour time slots for Saturday and Sunday down the side. Then people just filled it in with topics they wanted to host or give talks on. Most of the agenda was done in 20 minutes, and was instantly set, i.e., no deliberation or second guessing. And it came off perfectly. The talks were all great. It was nice they were short, which gave people a chance to explore lots of topics. Only shortcoming was the rooms varied in size, and the audience demand sometimes exceeded the capacity of the rooms
More photos on flickr.