Duh, Community IS the Framework!

A little more than 2 years after David Crow launched the BarCamp unconference meme in Canada with a mighty yawp, it looks like this “community thing” is catching on in Toronto’s technology scene.

The National Angels Organization has found religion, the Financial Post picked up the excitement, the Toronto Board of Trade loves being host to the energy of DemoCamp, Peter Evans and the crew at MaRS are great supporters of the community, John MacRitchie and the Ontario Centres of Excellence is actively engaged, the organizers of the Mesh Conference are kindred spirits and provide an important platform, Greg Wilson and the University of Toronto are onside, Rick Segal, Austin Hill and other VCs and Angels are joining in, Interactive Ontario sees the value and many other established institutions of the technology and business community are taking note of one of Toronto’s main sources of tech excitement.

The community is an open platform for collaboration, where the interests and resources of a diverse set of private industry organizations, educational and public sector support institutions can be pooled for shared benefit.

So who’s not getting it?


More after the jump…

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StartupCamp Toronto sells out faster than the Stones

Startupcamplogo SmallWhile I was in Vancouver, Jevon, Jonas and co-conspirators over at StartupNorth announced and quickly sold out StartupCamp Toronto1.
For those curious about how this “community thing” works, notice how the model is the defunct Canadian Venture Forum turned on its head. Tickets are allocated based on your community of practice: Entrepreneurs, Students and Gurus are free. Service Provider tickets are still available at $199 and you get recognized as a sponsor for supporting the community! $199 for that kind of whuffie is a fantastic deal.

Now if the Board of Trade could get hip to the model, we might see a few more tech innovators at those Tech Innovators Breakfasts! In my experience, these breakfasts are an old-skool sausagefest of service providers trying to catch a deal, and if it weren’t for the odd enlightened friend of the community like RBC, Idée, Microsoft/David Crow – you would never see a garage startup show its face in such an environment. (I’d link to the next one of their events, but the Board of Trade’s website is too painful to navigate and doesn’t use permalinks! Hello??)

I’m looking forward to putting my community co-creation ideas in front of more people in the startup ecosystem as the BarCamp community continues to gain traction in the eyes of policy, corporate and capital players. I see my role in this is to help these people perceive community and give them tools to engage with it in a way that creates new value for the whole system.

FacebookCamp/Developers Garage a huge hit

The Toronto BarCamp scene is one of the most vibrant in the world. Until recently Toronto was also the most active Facebook network in the world. So what happens when you bring the two together: a massive gathering of developers and others who can’t get enough of all things Facebook and with an itch to create.

Unfortunately, a huge pile of work waiting for my return and my status as a non-developer TorCamper kept me away. With a 400 capacity crowd in MaRS’ main auditorium plus a 70-person overflow room with closed-circuit coverage, they certainly didn’t need another warm body. Congratulations to the organizers and presenters on a milestone event.

AmberMac covered it for City News International.


And for the technically minded among you, Craig was nice enough to upload a couple of the presentations to Slideshare:

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Put TORCAMP on the map AND win a 30GB iPod!

While Jay Goldman and Leila Boujane work on a very cool subway-map of Toronto’s tech community similar to the one in Montreal, Toronto’s tech community can put itself on the map in other ways too. The TorCamp community is “partnering” (in what must be a first for a non-organization that puts on unconferences) with the Toronto Board of Trade on getting the word out to the thousands of small and micro-businesses about their ICT survey.

I am encouraging anybody who sees themselves as part of the greater Toronto technology community to fill out the survey and put themselves on the map for policy-makers who are looking for new ways of supporting that community’s development in the global race for technology leadership. Plus a new iPod would be nice! (Mine has be acting up lately).

Please blog about it, Facebook it, pass it on to people you know in the Toronto region involved in technology, and put out to any email lists you may be on. Thanks!

Here are the details:

Simply visit http://www.whatsyouropinion.ca, enter “TORCAMPâ€? in the field marked Survey Code and follow the easy steps through a short questionnaire which should help us identify issues and opportunities within Toronto’s growing ICT community.

For providing us your feedback, we’ll send you the aggregate results and analysis, but you’ll also be eligible to win a video iPod or tickets to upcoming Technology Innovators Breakfasts at the Toronto Board of Trade.

Thank you in advance for participating in this survey and helping to champion a competitive and vibrant ICT community in Toronto.

BarCamp: Toronto’s Tech Unconference

BarCamp TorontoTechWeek (aka BarCamp Toronto4) is happening this Saturday, May 26th. This time, we’re bringing out the BarCamp noobies and sharing the real BarCamp experience at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information Studies.

In line with the counter-culture ethos of the unconference, this BarCamp marks the un-official un-launch of Toronto Technology Week, which features both Enterprise 2.0 Conference & Camp and the Mesh Conference. I will be attending BarCamp and plan on facilitating a conversation about the future of Mozilla as a product or a platform, based on Chris Messina’s recent rant on the subject.

If you’ve never attended an unconference before, you really need to try it. (Hint: DemoCamp IS NOT a BarCamp) Once you’ve had an unconference, your expectations for what a conference should be will never be the same. Participants only. Bring a presentation you want to share, or sometimes participation means active listening, engaging presenters, bringing a question you want to explore or an intention to meet some like-minded folk. It’s about sharing and learning in an open creative environment.

Register by adding your name on the wiki. (Click “edit page”, password: c4mp)

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CODE: Building the New Agora

University of Toronto’s Knowledge Media Design Institute’s Project Open Source|Open Access project is hosting a lecture and panel-in-the-round conversation Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon at the Bahen Centre.

CODE: Building the New Agora explores current perspectives on the contemporary perception of hardware/software and investigates how open source/open access alters our approaches to professional and social networks.

Less than five years ago the cultural theorist Lev Manovich claimed that while the 1990s were all about the virtual, the next decade might be about physical space and interactions, albeit augmented by electronic information. To explore these rapidly changing paradigms you are invited to join CODE.

CODE introduces Prof Wendy Hui Kyong Chun of Brown University and brings together an array of local speakers for a critical analysis of innovative initiatives in networked public life. The panels in the round will start with informal 5-7 minutes long presentations aiming towards an open dialogue with the participating public.

CODE’s goal is to foster discussion on these issues examining the impact of community building in Toronto and beyond.

I will be participating in one of the Wednesday afternoon panels with David Crow of Toronto BarCamp, David Humphrey of Seneca College, who has students who are making contributions to the Mozilla project and Tobias c. van Veen of the Upgrade Montreal community.

I will be bringing a political economic and policy perspective to the conversation. I am interested in how open source software development communities provide a rich source of data for social scientists to understand commons-based peer production and its application to other forms of creative knowledge work. I am interested in the places of intersection between online communities or networks and physical place and space, something I’m calling open creative communities.

I look forward to the panel-in-the-round format, which will allow for a lot of audience participation and contributions. If you are driven by similar questions, I encourage you to come out and participate in the conversation.

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This Week in the Chat Swarm, Ep.1

This week on “As The Swarm Turns”, Sandy turns to drink, Markus tries to beat his crack addiction and Walkah and Ryan C discover that they are long-lost brothers. Meanwhile, Bryce discovers a nasty surprise in the basement of his mysterious new cottage.


The TorCamp community has a stable ad-hoc always-on chat room in Skype. I thought it might be interesting to start a weekly summary of the conversation for those of you who might be interested but don’t need the distraction, or just for posterity’s sake. Or this could just be a giant inside joke, you decide.

The TorCamp Chat Swarmâ„¢ is a gathering place for smart tech blogger BarCamp types in Toronto, with special guests visiting from Vancouver, San Francisco, Atlanta, London, Rome and other places I’m probably forgetting. The Swarmâ„¢ is a virtual water-cooler for independent, creative, entrepreneurial or self-employed and community-oriented folk. Conversation varies from banal to brilliant to steamy, depending on the flavour of the moment.

Out of Context Quote of the Week:

mark raheja:
depends. if you’re both wearing baby panda costumes…then yes, definitely cute.

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VizThink Community in Toronto

Ryan Coleman, a TorCamp Citizen I’ve come to know and love, did a fantastic job in hosting and facilitating VizThink1 a visual thinking jam session last night at his offices at Clay Tablet.

Ryan really stepped up the plate, added a whole new dimension to our community and facilitated a whole new conversation. And because he setup the wiki using the BarCamp event pattern, this one event will trigger more and will almost certainly go global. The goal (visually presented, of course):

Picture 4

So who is this nascent new community? Well, this is it (for now):

See Ryan’s full presentation on SlideShare:

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Italian Man Threatened for supporting a BarCamp

BarCamp London friend (and Italian) Riccardo “Bru” Cambiassi reports about a very threatening note a BarCamp organizer in Italy received for organizing rItaliaCamp to open up discussion about the 40 million Euro italia.it portal. Who is threatened by openness and participation? Some people are very threatened, apparently. Please DIGG this story.

read more | digg story

Essay: What is an Open Creative Community?

Three weeks ago, I coined a new term in my attempt to understand and communicate some of the ideas under the surface of Toronto Transit Camp. I referred to Transit Camp and BarCamp as open creative communities. It was a vague notion founded on my intuitions about what I have been observing in places as diverse and apparently disconnected as BarCamp to CaseCamp to NewMindSpace to Burning Man.

So what do marketers and tech geeks have in common with half-naked neo-tribal bohemians in the desert?

Alive, originally uploaded by Thomas Hawk.

These are communities of interest, practice, proximity and values.

These communities live in a hybrid virtual- and place-based geography. They are hyper-creative and produce some phenomenal artifacts of human ingenuity and culture. They are open, in that the barrier to entry is not a membership fee or a geographic line in the sand or a common ethnicity. The barrier to entry is creative citizenship, and you are either a citizen and a participant or you are not, based on your individual relationship to that community’s interests, practices, proximity and values.

They are communities with both global and local dimensions. And they are self-organizing at an increasingly rapid rate, in the most unexpected places. (more after the jump)

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