The Revolution will be Demo-ized

Go to David Crow’s post to read the good news about a possible future home for BarCampToronto/TorCamp/DemoCamp at MaRS. Leave your comments on David’s post and make your voice heard. And yes, sponsorships are welcome. All the better to keep the conversations going over post-Demo drinks. Contact David or let me know if you would be interested in offering sponsorship. One rule: no exclusivity and no quid pro quo other than your name being attached to the event. The community is not for sale, but all are welcome to contribute what they can.

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Married Inc.

Get to know married entrepreneurs, DemoCampers, bloggers and now mesh conference panelists John and Malgosia Green of Nuvvo. I met John at the Nuvvo demo at DemoCamp3, and found him to be very sharp. Malgosia brings with her a stellar reputation courtesy of our mutual friend, David Glue. Now check out their blog, Married Inc., which is really cute with the back and forth speech bubbles.

Wait a minute! Speech bubbles!? That’s my schtick! Strange coincidence? Their first blog post was March 13th, Remarkk!’s first Hello World was March 16th. Stranger still. Is DemoCamp a Dreamcatcher for synchronicity? Some Jungian dipping into the collective unconscious? There may indeed be magic beneath DemoCamp’s geek exterior.

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DemoCamp4 – it’s alive!

What a fantastic night at DemoCamp. The biggest room ever, in MaRS super high-tech collaboration centre, was pretty much filled up with 150 hungry DemoCampers. Many thanks to MaRS for supporting the community and providing their amazing facility. There is a feeling of a happening in the room. Most importantly, the community is meeting each other and creative sparks are flying all over the place.

We had some really great demos, including DemoCamp favourites Idee with visual search and several newcomers. Semacode is doing interesting things with camera-phone readable 3D 2D matrix barcodes that automatically link to URLs via your mobile’s wireless internet connection. I can imagine many interesting applications in the advertising space for their approach. Questionville is exploring social knowledge through public ranking of answers. Outmailer is exploring the latest releases of Ruby on Rails to stay on top of agile lightweight coding. The importance of Ruby is just becoming clear to me as a non-coding strategy nerd. The development efficiency demonstrates the radical reduction in the barriers to entry that Ruby brings to any web software product space.

We really have to start making clear that DemoCamp is first and foremost about technology and creativity; sharing techniques and ideas as demonstrated by and for the community. It is not the Canadian Venture Forum, and it shouldn’t become so. The depths of this critical difference were made abundantly clear when our regular recovering-VC participant asked a ridiculous question about business model of a fabulously obsessed hacker who is breaking into proprietary cheap disposable digital cameras. Huh? It’s a hack! Why do it? Because you can! The creative instinct is a strange and wonderful beast, and it should be respected however it manifests itself. Reverse engineering is an act of creative destruction and can be a source of innovation.

I’d like to comment about Josh’s Tag-Engine, but I don’t understand it. It looks like he put a lot of work into it, but I wasn’t getting the point. Something about templates for content development, but again I’m no coder. Strategy nerds should stick to what they know.

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Why I love Joe Clark (not that one, the other one)

I love my city, Toronto. The diversity, the creative vitality, the food, the people. Toronto to me feels like a place about to happen. But that’s also one of my complaints about the place, it seems like it’s perpetually about to happen, but it seems to fade just when it’s dreams appear closest to being realized. Toronto people are notoriously conflict averse, and criticism is often done in muted tones behind closed doors instead of in your face. Torontonians (and english Canadians generally) are the kings and queens of passive aggressiveness. This culture works against producing self-evident, vocal and proud greatness in many domains.

Then there’s Joe Clark. Joe Clark is a self-confessed curmudgeon and can be a total bitch sometimes. I had the pleasure of his critique at the first TorCamp event in the fall. He’s a tough critic, but smart, and totally not shy with his opinions. His critique was valid, well articulated and welcome. He’s an antidote to Toronto blandness, where crotchetiness is a lost art amongst all the polite civility. Joe Clark is Salieri in search of a worthy Mozart to be his foil. I don’t know if he’s found him yet, but apparently he’s taking issue with the mesh conference from a number of angles.

His points about a group that includes two journalist-bloggers inviting more journalist-bloggers to a conference about Web 2.0 may be valid. It’s a bit “inside the beltway” kind of stuff. To my mind blogging is a critical phenomenon of Web 2.0 (i.e. “The Social Web“) and worthy of particular emphasis by people that know their stuff. I won’t take a position on Clark’s web standards rant, being unqualified in these matters.

My recommendation to the mesh organizers is to listen to his criticism, because he probably has a point. But don’t get bent out of shape about. He’s just looking for Mozart, as are we all.

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The Remarkable Leila Boujnane of Idée Inc.

Leila came to U of T to talk about her real-world startup war stories to Business of Software students. I coach 4 teams of these students, who are fantastic. They come up with technology product ideas, develop business plans and have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of experienced investors at semester’s end. They are bright, enthusiastic and asked Leila some great questions during Q&A.

My favourite moment was in answer to a question about disclosing your idea to prospective customers or partners who could decide to build it themselves. Leila’s point (to paraphrase) was that disclosure paranoia is B.S. because the idea is worthless without the team to execute it. If somebody can execute the idea better then you’re not the people who should do it, and you should get out of the way. Go all the way or go home. And if the idea isn’t remarkable, then don’t even bother. Loved it.

I saw Leila demo Idée’s visual search tool at TorCamp1 and was impressed with the power, the thoughtful execution and the beautiful user experience. A truly remarkable and successful product and company. Inspiring to the students, but also to me and others. In the context of the conversations we’ve been having about the community supporting each other and demanding bigger thinking and better ideas, I really believe we also need to highlight and celebrate our successes. We don’t brag enough about Idée and Bubbleshare and others in the community that are models of success. When Remarkk! sees something remarkable, we call it the way we see it.

So, DemoCampers, show us something worth talking about.

Power Lunch with Albert Lai of Bubbleshare

Ok, TorCamp über-startup meister (and host of DemoCamp1.0) Albert Lai of Bubbleshare has some ‘splaining to do. Via Robert Scoble, a report of a Power Lunch with Scoble, Michael Arrington, Lynda Weinman and Bill-freaking Gates!?

Holy crap. Does that mean the rest of us schmucks are two degrees of separation from the richest man in the world? If you had lunch with Bill, what’s the one question you would ask?

I love the Bubbleshare blog integration tool. Check it: