Last weekend, I was proud to join a fascinating group of people in the first News Foo out in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m still thinking through what it all meant to me. Covering events in Washington has kept me extremely busy from the moment I returned.
Almost by definition, you can’t go to everything at an unconference. And by definition, an unconference is what you make of it, meaning that if you to a session to happen, you need to propose it. If you don’t like the one you’re in, vote with your feet. The open structure means that everyone will have a different experience, a reality that was reflected in the tweets, blogposts and feedback that have emerged in the days since the first News Foo concluded in Phoenix.
Newsfoo is a variant of Tim O’Reilly’s famed Foo camps, which have a wiki unconference format. People create the sessions as they go, and they camp out together. The social + intellectual experience is a bonding opportunity. There is also, for example, a Sci Foo camp which is consponsored by O’Reilly, Nature mag and Google. Now there is a push to do a Newsfoo, which would bring technologists and journalists together in a high-level discussion, that looks forward rather than back. It would tackle cool problems, both content side and business side.
To expand on that concept, posted before the event, News Foo was a collaboration between O’Reilly Media, Google and the Knight Foundation. Each hour or so, four or five sessions frequently competed for attention, along with freewheeling conversations in hallways, tables and in the open spaces of Arizona State University’s beautiful journalism center. As with every unconference, the attendees created the program and decided which sessions to attend, aggregating or disaggregating themselves.
If you’re interested in other reactions to News Foo, several excellent posts have made their way online since Sunday. I’ll be posting more thoughts on Newsfoo soon, along with book recommendations from the science fiction session.
- Fear and Loathing in Phoenix: News Foo
- Post-Newsfoo Meditation on Philosophy and Friction
- Newsoo Camp: Where TBD is Mainstream
For those who were not present, a post by Steve Buttry is particularly worth reading, along with the lively dialogue in the comments: “News Foo Camp: Not fully open, but certainly secret.” Buttry reached out to Sarah Winge, who provided a lengthy, informative comment about what Foos are about and how “Friend D.A.” works. If you’re not familiar with either, go check out Steve’s excellent post.
As he notes there, heavy tweeting was discouraged by the organizers, a request supported by the thinking that being “fully present,” freed of the necessary attention that documenting an event accurately requires of a writer, will result in a richer in-person experience for all involved.
Over the course of the weekend, I certainly tweeted much less than I would at the average conference or unconference. But then foo isn’t either.
I did take a few moments to share resources or stories I heard about at newsfoo with my distributed audience online. Following are 28 tweets, slightly edited (I took out the #Newsfoo hashtag and replies in a few) that did just that, rather like I’d microblogged it. If you’re confused about the “twitterese” below, consult my explainer on the top 50 Twitter acronyms and abbreviations and my thinking on how #hashtags on Twitter are like channels on cable TV. For many more tweets from other attendees, check out “Newsfoo at a Distance,” a Storify curation.
1. #Newsfoo is an unconference in Phoenix, AZ this weekend. Technologists & journalists talking about “what’s next.”
3. ASU Cronkite School of Journalism. Beautiful. http://instagr.am/p/dLie/
On the long form
12. There’s someone from http://scraperwiki.com at #newsfoo.
14. “Former #WikiLeaks activists to launch new whistleblowing site”-Der Spiegel http://bit.ly/f4iP6Q #cablegate
Trust and the media
22. “Curiousity is the cartography that allows you to see more finely grained maps of the world”-@tristanharris
23. Good morning! Talking how media biz models might work in with FTC #DNTrack. Context: http://oreil.ly/igZJso
24. Reminded of how ugly black hat SEO spammers & fraudsters act online after disasters. http://usat.ly/88pYMk