ApacheCon is like being a field of locusts. You can almost hear the swarm of
chewing away at the future. There is no buisness model, no project plan, no marketing campaign. Just a hordes and hordes of dudes (though interestingly this year there were substantially more women than last) going – “Hum, I wonder what might happen if I hacked this thing together with that thing… cool, that makes me smile, that was neat.” over and over again. These are the people that take pens apart, that put light bulbs inside of other things just because they can.

Doc Searls gave a very nice talk at ApacheCon. Doc obviously has spent much of his life helping firms figure out how to tell their story so that it will go down the gullet of the media machine reasonably smoothly. Like everybody else he’s noticing that bottleneck like so many others is suffering a firestorm of disintermediation.

So on the one hand you could see him seeking a way to frame the story of what is going on here (what is the story of this open source thing) into the frameworks that his craft knows will make it an appetizing dish to place out on the buffet table where that the passing journalists will heap a helping onto their plate. One part hero. One problem, preferably dress in a war metaphore. A respoution – presumably open source. While on the hand noticing that that question is becoming increasingly uninteresting.

On the otherhand you could see he was in the midst of the puzzling out what would rise from those ashes. It was this puzzling that was delightful to observe because he is a very smart guy and he knows all the current memes with a degree of insight that’s rare. So it was just a joy to watch him reach into his bag of memes and pull one out and turn it over in his hands, say something wise about how it does or doesn’t fit what he was observing in the conference and then set it down, respectfully, and pull out another one.

For example he drew out the blogging meme. He had a wonderful slide where screen snapshots of dozens of blogs written by folks in his audience (a nice touch that) piled up on the screen. A pretty way to show the disintermediation of the traditional media. A compeling way to make clear that even the question “what is the story” is just possibly the wrong question when it’s clear that hundreds of voices are now all speaking at once telling what ever random story they might happen to want to tell.

I guess the blogs reflect that some of the locust’s are mumbling outloud as they chew.

He touched on the DYI IT meme. The end-to-end meme and it’s friend disintermediation and the many volunteers standing by offering to become the intermediary. He touched on the IP enclosure movement meme. etc. etc.

A very nice talk and in a way a very ironic one because Open Source has an undercurrent of shifting power from marketing to engineering, from the PR department alway back to the technologists in R&D. No. Not to R&D; further toward the technologists in the field.

So Doc’s presence, the PR marketing maven, in this crowd has a curious irony to it. It’s as if just as they were loading the Golgafrincham’s B-ship a few of the wisest and cleverest passengers paused and wandered back into the crowd. Thinking as they went: “My, this needs some more thought; something odd going on here.” I’m glad he came.

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