The panelists included mashup entrepreneurs Yobie Benjamin, Andres Ferrate, and Taylor McKnight combined with local valley VC, Jeff Clavier. Insightful and timely, the conversation confirmed the value of the new camp format which now includes this type of panel discussion.
The rest of the day was dominated by the “Best Mashup” competitions. Many of the sponsors, including my company, RadWebTech, offered prizes for the best mashup showing off the sponsors products or technology. And, the conference itself offered a Mac Book Pro for the best overall Mashup.
One sponsor, the Elfenworks Foundation, wasn’t a solutions provider at all, rather they sought to encourage their cause through the sponsoring of a mashup contest. It was an inspired and compelling way to increase the visibility of an important issue: social justice and domestic poverty.
Contestants were split into two groups to present their works in one of two reverse speed-geeking sessions. In this format, the entrants displayed the fruit of their labors on high-top tables while the other 300+ participants went from table to table in 8-minute spurts with Dave the whistle guy blowing his woo-woo machine in between.
Lunch and the keynote speech from legendary Tim O’Reilly separated the two sessions. Tim fired up the crowd with his data-centric view of the world – a concept well received by the mashup community – and ended on the theme of data portability – a timely topic uniquely tied to my own efforts in the DataPortability organization.
Through the contribution of TechWeb and the sponsors of MashupCamp, my company RadWebTech included, the entire event is provided to all attendees free of charge. Entrance into the mashup contests likewise only requires the desire to participate.
Entries ranged from story-board presentations, to commercial-grade applications, as well as mashup creations birthed from all-night programming sessions. Several were actually (or wannabe) commercial products taking advantage of the free venue to display their wares. Geeks are often socially challenged but they’re not dumb, and needless to say none of these conference trespassers won.
The real stars shined in the bleary eyes of exhausted mashup developers that somehow found the energy to speed-geek their creations with enthusiasm. The top entries that caught my attention included a variant on tag clouds, a compelling way to search and view videos, a plug-in that brought mashup capabilities to any web page, and several mobile-based solutions.
Many of the mashups demonstrated integration with wikis and other social elements, back-end data sources, and even the semantic web – all brought together through the use of tools provided by several of the solutions providers/sponsors, including: Mozenda, WetPaint, and Calais.
My company’s product, DistroMash, was used by contestants as a mashup container that was then rendered on the Scrapplet presentation platform (another of RadWebTech’s products).
After all the presentations were completed, and the final woo-woo from Dave’s horn was heard, conference participants were asked to “vote” for their favorite mashup and best solutions provider. The voting was accomplished by ignoring your mother’s warnings not to take wooden nickels. Each participant was provided an actual wooden nickel for best mashup and another for best solutions provider – and they were a highly sought currency by both contestants and providers.
After tallying the vote (counting of the nickels), the great hall hosted the final get together award ceremony and cocktail party. Dave held the stage as he went through the recognitions. The tables of beer and wine were just out of reach and teased the crowd as they were wholly off limits until the last award was presented.
Best overall mashup went to Dean Mao for his Firefox plug-in that mashed up the world. Each sponsor selected their winner and presented prizes ranging from hard drives and other equipment to cold hard cash.
The winner of RadWebTech’s best Mashup using DistroMash was a team of interns from SAP, Martin Czuchra and Jennifer Baldwin:
“We aimed to create awareness of poverty issues in a user's neighborhood by showing such elements on a map. We aggregated RSS feeds with Yahoo Pipes and also added geotagging with Yahoo Pipes. We then plotted this information on Google Maps. Finally we created the web application with DistroMash adding a feed reader, the map and a visualization from gapminder.”
Before I presented them with their brand new Playstation 3 and deluxe SOCOM (with blue-tooth headset!), I got to thank everyone for their participation and point out that the new generation, represented by these two young interns, wasn’t replacing our generation – they were expanding the world of mashups that included all generations.
After the obligatory pictures, I asked how they were going to share their award and suggested alternating Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other weekend joint custody.
Finally, the recognitions and congratulations were finished and the drinking began – but not without one last twist to the Mashup theme. The good folks from Calais introduced balsa wood airplane kits to the crowd and challenged them to mash them up for a flying contest (no cash prizes this time).
Beer, geeks, and gliders. ‘nough said.
Congrats to all who attended this spectacular event, thanks to TechWeb, David Berlind, Greg, Angela, and Elizabeth, and to all of the sponsors who contributed. I can’t wait until the next one. I’ve already mashed it up on my calendar.
Click here to see all of my pics from the conference.
[this was the last in a three part series about MashupCamp, fall 2008]