Foo Camp 2004

I just got back from Foo Camp up in Sebastopol. I had a blast, and want to thank Tim O’Reilly and Marc Hedlund for the invite. The intellectual firepower there was amazing, and everyone was really friendly and open. Here are some pictures of the weekend by Mark Frauenfelder. I always love meeting Bloglines users and getting their feedback, and I was pleased to find that many of the attendees were indeed already Bloglines users.
Unlike many conferences, we actually got stuff done. Two things, in fact. First is the Feed Mesh idea, which is basically a federation of large RSS companies sharing blog update pings. The idea is to reduce the need for someone like Bloglines to poll a given feed on a regular basis. If we can reliably get notifications of when a given feed has been updated, we won’t need to poll it constantly. This will reduce the server/bandwidth load on feed providers.
The second idea that we came up with is the Vary ETag proposal. When an aggregator requests a feed, generally either the entire feed (usually 15 items) is returned, or nothing is returned (if the feed hasn’t changed). Generally, one item is added or updated in a feed, so when all 15 are returned, it’s a waste of bandwidth. This proposal introduces a way for servers to implement a change that would allow them to only serve up the new or updated items. And here’s the most important part of this proposal: the servers can do this with no changes required on the client side. If Blogger were to implement this, for example, they’d see an immediate savings in bandwidth. Same with any of the other large blog hosting sites. There have been other proposals, but they all require changes on the client side, which I consider to be a non-starter.
Later, there was a session on designing the next-generation feed reader. Of course feed readers haven’t been around long enough to start talking about a ‘next-generation’, but several good ideas came out of this session as well. The session ended up being a bit Bloglines-specific, but I’m certainly not complaining. 🙂
Finally, this was the first time I’ve slept in a cubical since probably 1998. But this time it was for fun and not for work. And this time I had a comfortable inflatable bed.
What a fantastic weekend.