MashupCamp – Do we deserve it to come back?

MashupCamp Ireland. David Berlind, Doug Gold and everyone else (apologies I don’t know your names yet folks) have put a wonderful International event together and they honoured Ireland by bringing it here. The turnout has been healthy enough and hopefully we’ll see more people on Monday. Maybe even more Irish people because from what I’ve seen there’s been more International people than locals here.

MashupCamp is a very important event with some high-powered people from the biggest companies in the world showing how to make new services and products using their APIs. Mashup Camp could have chosen anywhere in Europe and they chose Dublin. It’s nice to see people from these tech companies fly in to share a lot of information with everyone that turns up.

I would have expected to see more of the people that go to the various Open Coffees to turn up, or more of the Paddy’s Valley people, especially as they’re getting pitching training tomorrow. I.B.M. had a great presence and Microsoft have been there at every single talk over the weekend, mixing and networking and even writing summaries of some of the talks. No official Google presence to show people how to use their APIs yet they have some of the most used APIs about. Good to see an unofficial presence though.

I also would have expected the likes of Enterprise Ireland to have had a large presence or any presence at the event. They’re a sponsor too. Out of interest how many Enterprise Ireland D.A.s rang tech companies on their books and told them about MashupCamp? S.F.A. I reckon. I gave the organisers a small bit of help getting the word out yet the locals here in Ireland should have been clawing to get to Mashup Camp without having to be begged and prodded. Universities should have been aware of the event and telling their students get here and should have gone themselves. E.I. and their grant drawing clients should have been there in force. Any tech startup should have been at the event to mix with the “big boys” and just see how they work and learn about the way they work.

For me, I see MashupCamp as being like a multi-national company wanting to come here and set up. The same way politicians, councils, chambers’ of commerce and I.D.A./E.I. fall over themselves to court these big companies, so should they do the same for events like Mashup Camp. If E.I. and Unis and all the others cannot see a few steps ahead and that Mashup Camp creates the potential for new jobs and enterprises then we really are sunk. We’ve been given a fantastic opportunity with MashupCamp and I don’t think we’ve honoured it enough by the lack of support from the tech community in Ireland. We need way more events like this in Ireland from people more experienced than us but if they come looking at having events here, what can we show to them for us to deserve it? Remember, they can go to India or China where they’ll be treated like gods. Or London or Berlin where they’ll pack many halls and probably make a profit.

Despite all of this I hope to see enough good feedback from the event that the organisers will come back again and maybe next time we can see a queue of Irish people wanting to get in. Well done MashupCamp organisers! Thanks for the event so far. It’s great.

30 Responses to “MashupCamp – Do we deserve it to come back?”

  1. Well, since I don’t live in Dublin, I’d have needed three nights in a hotel and a peaktime return rail ticket.

    So I’m not there because I’d be looking at four hundred notes, plus the eating and the beer.

    I’d have quite liked to be there. But not that bloody much.

  2. Had I known John H. needed a floor to sleep on, I would have made arrangements to get to a weekend session of Mashup Camp. And John’s right–these things cost time and money and when you cannot shovel the real cost towards someone who will pay your expenses, it often means cutting into your Christmas money stash.

    The OpenCoffee community needs to link up some joint promotions because there’s a trusted audience extending from each of the OpenCoffee communities that would have helped the numbers.

    I also think Mash-up Camp would benefit through the presence of mashed-up celebrities or through the presence of a special guest who would have attracted a broader interest on the ground.

  3. walter says:

    I would have loved to have been there. Alas, ursula was working abroad and I was minding the little ones. I do hope they have another event.

  4. uvox says:

    I think you’re missing the real raison d’etre of Mashup Camp – the Unconferencing part. So far the keynote speeches and University part have offered little different from any other conference – full of vendor product push (to wit: Microsoft with PopFly/Sliverlight. There’s too much AOL and IBM. The Unconferencing sessions however provide for real transfer of learning.

  5. Alexia says:

    @Bernie Lots of folks could only make a day of the camp but I think they met a lot of movers and shakers in the Mashup biz. A chance they will work hard to replicate in Dublin unless MashupCamp returns. These people seemed to have enjoyed the day. And count it as worthwhile. One involved in the OpenCoffee movement around the country ought to be able to justify the small price of attending the event and the bus ticket to get there, right?

  6. Damien says:

    @unvox I think you’re missing the main points of this post actually. I’m saying that more Irish people need to go. I’m not talking down the structure of MashupCamp. There has not been enough local support for this event. Where’s the 100,000 welcomes?

  7. uvox says:

    Well, it was announced on RTE radio primetime which sounds like pretty good advertising to me. Sounds like you went to Camp with the wrong expectations. Perhaps as a non-innovator, non-coder, that’s only to be expected. It’s no “We Do Be Needin’ The Jobs, Sor” by proxy event. Try the other myriad of conferences. Yahoo,, AOL, Microsoft, etc, are already in Ireland. Let’s keep the politicians, bloggers, and other pseuds out of it.

  8. Niall Kitson says:

    Some advance publicity would have been nice. In an office of 4 tech titles and a high-profile website it turned out I was the only editor who knew about the event and even then it was through this blog. It’s not like press releases are hard to put together.

  9. Des Traynor says:

    I was at MashUp Camp, and really enjoyed it. Met some interesting people, and learned some cool stuff. I was particularly impressed with the potential of PopFly, and the IBM talks demoed some really interesting technology.

    I agree with your sentiment Damien, it’s one thing to talk about being really into this stuff, it’s another to show up. Few can argue that 25 euro really put them off(especially given that it wasn’t required), most likely people prefer to lie in on the weekends. I should state though, that I saw 4 or 5 regulars from the Dublin Open Coffee Club there, which isn’t that bad given there are only about 20 in total that show up.

    It was a shame about the WiFi outage during Marthas talk. That was the only irritation for me, otherwise the “un-conference” was better organised and ran than many of the €300+ conferences I’ve been to.


  10. danger says:

    You got me thinking about why not so many Irish it companies showed up:

    They ran a serious conference with 2/3 days on the weekend? Seems a bit ridiculous no? Why would someone go to something work related at a weekend? People do things at the weekend…extra curricular things… things so that on monday their brain is somewhat reset and ready for another week.

    3 days worth of any developers time equals: thousands of euro worth of billable time.

    So the question is would mashup camp be worth that? And don’t answer with, “well you could unconference with the CEO of X and start off a deal worth billions” …I thought mashup camp was for developers? Not the deal makers and breakers! It sounds great for someone such as yourself, where meeting/greeting IS your business. But what about developer X from company Y? That’s all lost on him.

    In terms of learning, maybe this is harsh, but from a purely technical point of view I’m wondering what it is I’d pick up there that I couldn’t get from a quick search or two and a bit of messing around? (And without the selling slant too) No doubt it would be fun/interesting… but that’s no justification when you are talking 3 days of developer time. – Good developers don’t need hands-on instruction and talks – imagine if they did? They’d cost thousands and thousands a year just to keep them going. I’d fire anyone who needed that kind of nonsense all the time. Companies specifically look for people who don’t need to go on training courses; people with the initiative and intelligence to figure things out themselves.

    It’s certainly an interesting question. And probably my comments could be applied to any type of conference.

    Conference cost vs. real tangible benefit = probability of attendance

    The exact circumstances in which a company might justify going to mashup camp:

    1. They had recently identified a need to quickly understand third party APIs, either to build one themselves, or to leverage existing ones
    2. They heard about mashup camp and had not yet done extensive research on the tech involved, so it was agreed that mashupcamp would be a good way to kick start the whole process
    3. They could convince a developer/developers to give up their weekend
    4. Send developer, promising him 2 days holidays in return

    Am I way off the mark?

  11. Des Traynor says:

    @danger , I can only speak for myself, but I went by myself, not on behalf of, or under instruction by my company. Sure I didn’t need to attend to learn how the tools work, but it is nice to be able to ask people on the project how to do certain things, to meet them , have a chat about where it’s going all that sorta stuff. Yes, it’s all achievable online, but sometimes it’s nice to talk to the people.

    I’m interested in new technologies. When I finish a day at work, I still read about new stuff when I get home. I still dick around with Javascript trying to get fancy effects work, I still read technologies. Maybe I’m lucky in that one of my main hobbies is also my job.

    Your answer is spot on, if the question was “Why didn’t companies send their employees”, which is fair enough.

  12. An issue of time (mostly) and money for me too. With Paddy’s Valley coming up I’m already stretched money wise and with a tax return deadline approaching on Friday I’m completely stretched time wise. When you’re living ‘down the country’ it’s not easy to make the commitment to Dublin based events.

    Pity really as I would have loved to be there. If it’s on same time and place next year I’m sure to actually do my tax return on time, for once.

  13. Paul Walsh says:

    @danger – “3 days worth of any developers time equals: thousands of euro worth of billable time.”

    If this is true then you’re assuming those developers work for themselves as freelance consultants. If this is true then they should get off their arses to continuously improve their proposition by uptraining and networking – yes, at weekends.

    My answer to someone who said they were unable to make OpenCoffee during a working morning in London; “this event is not for you and you’re not the right person to attend if you’re unable to set your own schedule”.

    Sorry to be harsh, but rarely do you see something like this at the weekend, so when it happens, people should embrace it, instead of complaining. If it was during the week, you’d have people complain that it doesn’t suit those that have to make their thousands.

    No event will appeal to everyone all of the time.

    I don’t know what it is about Irish/Dublin people – they just don’t care much for networking events.

    Networking events is not only about learning stuff. It’s not only about meeting new people either. It’s about building relationships with people you already know. Building relationships is extremely important if you wish to a) enjoy what you do to the full and b) optimise your own full potential whilst helping others (which brings you back to a).

  14. Damien says:

    @danger I think there’s the rub right there. If someone goes to something because it is “work related” then everyone’s time is wasted. People and companies should have been going to this because it could very well inspire them to do something new like building a new product or introduce them to new technologies which could make their business far more productive.

    That’s the trouble with so many Irish companies and tech people. They’re interested in getting by, not doing well or becoming a power player. If you measure a weekend in terms of developing hours do you measure how much it saves in R&D. Dennis Deery worked this weekend for clients AND built a fantastic mashup too. It nearly killed him but now he’s gotten great recognition from a whole load of big companies and people that work in the Mashup area worldwide.

    There’s plenty who are very happy in their world to work 9 to 5 Monday to Friday and switch everything off outside of their hours. I don’t know many people that are a success with this rationale and when you trying to do something in the 24/7 tech world you’ll be surpassed by someone from India or the Valley with that kind of work ethic.

  15. Aidan Finn says:

    I had signed up for the original dates but couldn’t make the rescheduled dates due to personal commitments. I would have liked to attend, more for the networking and the camp part than the university part.

    I think there were plenty of developers who simply didn’t know about the event. They only place I heard about it were on a few blogs – in fact the only promotion of the event I noticed was on a few Irish blogs. I’m not trying to knock the effort you and others put into promoting the event but the Irish blogging comminity is pretty small and there are plenty of developers who don’t bother reading Irish blogs. (I don’t think RTE news is targeted to developers either). I’m guessing there are probably a lot of people who didn’t know about it.

    Another thing to consider is that there are different kinds of developers. For many people programming is just a day-job and they will only go to a conference if their company is paying them to go. If you want to target these guys then you probably need to market to big companies and charge an exhorbitant registration fee.

    Then there are people who are passionate about this stuff – these are people you find programming in their spare time, releasing software for free, going to user-groups etc. These are the kind of people who would most likely go to this kind of event if they knew about it.

    If the target audience is developers then the best way to promote it is through the various technical forums. E.g. there are java, python, ruby, php and linux user groups in Ireland all with their own mailing lists and forums. There are computer societies and internet societies in all the major universities and colleges. The computer science departments in the universities have internal mailing lists that can usually be accessed through people in the departments. For similar events in the future maybe these could be targeted more.

  16. I work 8-5 Monday to Friday, and when the kids have gone to bed we both sit down and work some more. But weekends are, for the most part, off-limits.

    I’m glad I made it – if only for today. Speedgeeking was a great way to catch up and we brought the Intruders cameras around with us – loved Dennis Deery’s mashup.

  17. Damien says:

    It wasn’t BarCamp Galway Aidan, the PR was far more than a single blog post. The press release was sent to 75 news orgs. I’ve also seen mention of it on a few Irish Developer mailing lists. All Enterprise Boards were mailed about it. Many colleges too. Shame that EI didn’t promote it or many of the sponsors, though I hear that it was their HQs that did the sponsoring, not the local ones.

  18. Paul Walsh says:

    Look if I can get an email from my EI DA then it must have been promoted to death. Anyone who wasn’t aware, aren’t keep their finger on the right pulse.

    @Conn – you’re right to spend time with your kids!! As I said, not all events are for everyone all of the time.

    Doing something at the weekend is very good for those who can’t get away during the working week. Almost every W3C meeting I attend starts during the weekend and I usually have to get there by plane. I do this because I care about standards but also because it’s very good for my business in the long term.

    Then you have those who simply don’t know what’s good for their business. Whilst making a quid today is good, it might be better to make 50 cent in order to make a tenner next week.

  19. Alexia says:

    I find it strange that tech people are supposedly out of the news loop. Tech people are generally the guys with their pulses of what’s happening. We are a literate and numerate bunch of folks. I can haz writing skillz. News, media – do we not consume like everyone else?

    As for giving personal time away at the weekend to go MashupCamp – I see it as an investment. I’m not looking to create my own startup. I saw the weekend as a way of opening my tech horizons, talking to people with skills alien to my own. I saw it as a investment in my tech education. I also booked holiday time off to go today. And I don’t regret doing it. The weekend was a great opportunity for Dublin’s devs, designers, business people and hobbyists to get in a room and exchange ideas. If you don’t see this as a valuable investment, then you really are not serious about the web.

  20. Damien says:

    One thing too. People seem to be coming on here defending why they personally were not there. That’s not the point. Readers of this blog are a teeny tiny subset of the Irish tech scene and non-tech scene. If every tech blogger went there’d certainly have been a way better representation but then it’d be like a BarCamp reunion. There are 1000s of people who could have benefited from this had their companies and themselves been proactive.

    Out of interest Aidan, since you knew this was on, did you email details about it to the many mailing lists you were on?

  21. danger says:

    @Paul Walsh

    If this is true then you’re assuming those developers work for themselves as freelance consultants. If this is true then they should get off their arses to continuously improve their proposition by uptraining and networking – yes, at weekends.

    I’m not assuming that at all. I’m talking about a company who have clients/customers, so development time is measured as effort – the time it takes to do something. So lets say it takes 3 days to implement some extra server and client side validation for an ecommerce solution, that’s 3 x €1000 a day. So that’s €3000 in billable as an actual invoice.

    I was just pointing out that from a certain mindset, particularly one that isn’t starting up, or very small, or in need of sales leads… they might well approach it using bottom-line, money-talks type attitudes like the above. In which case the unconferencing benefits, the passion… it isn’t necessarily something you can sell to these people, but I’d also suggest that there is a marketing strategy for events for this kind of mindset…but I guess the million dollar question is nailing that down. [I’d hazard to say it certainly is NOT doing it at the weekend.] So I was simply hashing all that out. I’d agree entirely with you that if someone IS a freelance consultant, a contractor etc. related to the area… then if they’re not interested in an event like this then they are of course only damaging themselves.

    We’ve identified definite types of people who AREN’T part of that: People like Des Traynor, who have a passionate interest in the area. That’s fantastic. No one is knocking that.

    We’re also seeing another type, ‘the would like to but can’t afford it.’ – Which comes right back to the issue of whether there should be more support – entrepreneurs can easily be on a shoe-string, so it’s a whole other conversation to identify what can be done to help them get access to incredibly beneficial resources like this.


    That’s the trouble with so many Irish companies and tech people. They’re interested in getting by, not doing well or becoming a power player.

    That’s just not true! The CEOs of these companies aren’t interested in getting by… they’re interested in money. Cha – ching! The SME sector in Ireland has really supercharged tech companies, going at it like bunnies in their own niches. – Mobile, online, everywhere… I know we need to encourage more entrepreneurship etc. but we’re talking about tech companies that exist in this discussion.

    What’s doing well + a power player? I consider a power player a profitable company that makes loads of cash. What do you consider it? You can’t say that because a huge proportion doesn’t go to mashup camp, and subscribe to your same ethos, that ‘they all just don’t get it.’ Are you really really far ahead of the grade curve? Nope, it’s just part of your ‘doing well’ and ‘power player’ to get to these camps. And that’s not a bad thing. But i’m positing it’s not Irish tech companies ethos at all.

    Companies are motivated by money. It’s how to get to that beating heart. It’s how to get to that beating heart and motivate it into getting to your conference. So that you can sell the product to them, be it your standards proposal, your api, or maybe just yourself.

    And so the cycle goes on!

    Hey! Could I speak at a conference on the problems with conferences? Is there a conference about conferences? 🙂

  22. Aidan Finn says:

    Damien. No, I didn’t. To be honest, it never occurred to me. Once I knew I couldn’t attend I didn’t think about it again until this weekend when I saw the chatter about it online.

  23. Paul Walsh says:

    @danger – how can you associate cost for a weekend activity for a ‘company’? Companies don’t factor in weekends when scoping projects – at least not the ones who know how to time manage and treat their staff properly.

    Some people can’t make it, fine. But why come here and defend why ‘some’ people can’t make it? Damien was simply making the point that not enough people get off their fat arses to put the effort in, so they can better themselves and their proposition.

    The networking scene in Dublin sucks, full stop. Even the Firefox Ireland party that I hosted where Segala paid for an entire night, only attracted about 60 people – some great people I may add, but a very small number compared to an 11th hour meetup that I could arrange in London.

  24. Damien says:

    @Aidan and I’m sure it was the case with many more too on those lists and I think it’s just down to the lifestyle here of being more laidback or something or people don’t feel the need to be the ones giving out the news.

  25. Paul Walsh says:

    @danger – BTW, you couldn’t be further from the truth if you think entrepreneurs are motivated by money.

    Companies need to generate revenue but this doesn’t always mean pitching for a project during 9 to 5 on Monday to Friday. This belief is the issue I aim to raise (which you do quite well for me, but for the wrong reason). For example and not for the benefit of selling my services!… one of my companies has generated more than 5m since 2002 and 100% of the work has come from referral. That’s purposely without trying sell or build the business as we build ‘trust’ and a long-term business proposition.

    It’s about ‘people’, not about chasing the buck.

    Chase the buck if you want to make a quick one. Change your attitude and approach if you want to make it long term whilst adding real value.

  26. @paulwalsh You cannot compare like-for-like Dublin-to-London when measuring bums on seats as your deliverable. The sheer population difference blows the comparison. You have to measure MashUp camps and other unconferences by established numbers. In my experience, if you break into triple digits, you’re attracting people from outside a region. Attract more than 300 people and you have achieved a cross-over event. Many big ticket conferences, held on weekdays in Dublin, attract more than 300 people each. But that’s about the top level many planners expect to accommodate. Besides, once you get above 150 people, it’s tough to really meet people outside your normal social circle for more than a casual chat.

  27. Paul Walsh says:

    @Bernie, obviously I’m not comparing numbers as that would be a little silly 😉 I’m comparing enthusiasm, willingness to help others yada yada yada.

    The first event I attended in Dublin since leaving 9 years ago was the Firefox Ireland launch party that I hosted. It got so much attention that Mozilla got in touch and asked if they could supply lots of merchandise (which they did). However the turnout wasn’t great (about 60) and I noticed right away that people are very shy when it comes to introducing themselves and simply getting to know others.

    Look at the number of huge companies that are based in Dublin… Microsoft asked if I’d run an event for them after they attended my last Curry 2.0. Why? well because there isn’t much else happening – not because my dinner meetup was anything extraordinary.

    There are a few people who are very keen for it to happen, but the vast majority in Dublin are like poker players – holding their cards closely to their chest in fear of giving something away.

    Here’s an example now that I’m on a role, I met an old AOL colleague at a reunion and when I asked what he did, he wouldn’t tell me in fear of ‘everyone knowing his business’ – some people can imagine how I reacted. Needless to say he was very embarrassed and owned up to being an investor. I mean, WTF?!

  28. steve white says:

    it get numbers because it overhyped, your not doing yourself a favour by over hyping things, thats not enough clear profit and solid business opportunities at the msh up conference

  29. […] went pretty well with a large international attendance with some of us Irish turning up as well (maybe not in the numbers we should have!). I find the whole area of mashups very interesting it is and will be one of the key areas for the […]

  30. John Herren says:

    I think we’d me more than honored to hold camp in Dublin in the future. It was a real delight for me.

    I think Dave Berlind made it quite obvious that his team is looking for feedback as to the right days and times to hold the conference to accommodate as many people as possible next go round.

    Mashup Camp works regardless of the number of attendees, because if you find there’s nothing there to excite you, you can create an ad hoc forum to find like-minded people. It’s never let me down in that regard.