So apparently this weekend Google, Nature, and O’Reilly Media are hosting a ‘Science Foo Camp’ at Google’s Silicon Valley HQ. O’Reilly has held a few tech-oriented Foo Camps over the last few years, and apparently the list of invitees has always provoked some debate — if you’re not invited, you’re either not important enough, or you’ve somehow pissed off the O’Reilly cabal (like RSS inventor and all-round curmudgeonly presence Dave Winer). Like the tech events, SciFoo is invite-only, and is also run under a rather draconian set of disclosure rules about what participants can report about each other’s identities. In the supposedly open world of science, this seems a bit wrong-headed.
(I sheepishly admit this criticism is at least partially a rationalization of my jealousy over not having been invited….)
Still, it’s probably good to have more dialog amongst scientists, and before they become crusty, white-haired members of learned societies. I know from personal experience that I hardly ever speak to members of other departments in my own University, so ‘camp’ is probably a good way to get us talking (some of us really can look up from our shoe-gazing when encouraged properly).
A few participants have outed themselves, in particular Cosmic Variance’s Mark Trodden and the author of Nascent, Nature’s own web-publishing blog. The topics, ranging from the lognormal distribution to technology to the sociology and politics of science, seem like fascinating conversation-starters (that, I assume, is the ultimate aspiration of a meeting like this). Ongoing coverage is being tracked on Nature’s science aggregator, Connotea.