April 2, 2009

Upcoming Gig: Science Foo Camp (scifoo) 2009

Google Classic: Please Allow 30 Days for your Search ResultsIn my inbox this morning, an intriguing email from Timo Hannay, Tim O’Reilly and Chris DiBona:


We’d like to invite you to join us for Science Foo Camp (or “Sci Foo”), a unique, invitation-only gathering organized by Nature, O’Reilly Media, and Google, and hosted at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

Now in its fourth year, Sci Foo is achieving cult status among those with a passion for science and technology. Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek wrote of last year’s event:

“SciFoo is a conference like no other. It brings together a mad mix from the worlds of science, technology, and other branches of the ineffable Third Culture at the Google campus in Mountain View. Improvised, loose, massively parallel–it’s a happening. If you’re not overwhelmed by the rush of ideas then you’re not paying attention.”

As before, we will be inviting about 200 people from around the world who are doing groundbreaking work in diverse areas of science and technology. Participants will include not only researchers, but also writers, educators, artists, policy makers, investors, and other thought leaders.

The format is highly informal: all delegates are also presenters and demonstrators; the schedule is determined collaboratively on the first evening; and sessions continue to be organized and re-organized throughout the weekend. This creates a unique opportunity to explore topics that transcend traditional boundaries, and discussions are of a kind that happens at the best conferences during breaks and late into the night. Of course, there will also be time to have fun and relax at Google’s legendary campus.

Sci Foo 2009 will run from about 6pm on Friday, July 10 until after lunch on Sunday, July 12. Campers need to make their own way to and from the event, but Google will provide accommodation and meals, and there is no registration fee. For those who don’t have cars, there will also be free shuttle buses between the hotel and the Googleplex.

Please RSVP  etc

We hope to see you at the Googleplex in July!

Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media
Chris DiBona, Google
Timo Hannay, Nature

About Nature Publishing Group

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is dedicated to serving the information and communication needs of scientists and medics. NPG’s flagship title, Nature, first published in 1869, has now been joined by over 80 other titles, among them the Nature research journals, Nature Reviews, Nature Clinical Practice and a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. It also operates the leading scientific website, Nature.com, and a range of innovative online services, from databases to collaboration tools and podcasts.

About O’Reilly Media

O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O’Reilly has been a chronicler and catalyst of leading-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. Whether it’s delivered in print, online, or in person, everything O’Reilly produces reflects the company’s unshakeable belief in the power of information to spur innovation. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

About Google Inc.

Google’s Philosophy – Never settle for the best “The perfect search engine,” says Google co-founder Larry Page, “would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want.” Given the state of search technology today, that’s a far-reaching vision requiring research, development, and innovation to realize. Google is committed to blazing that trail. Though acknowledged as the world’s leading search technology company, Google’s goal is to provide a much higher level of service to all those who seek information, whether they’re at a desk in Boston, driving through Bonn, or strolling in Bangkok.

About Foo Camps

The “Foo Camp” meeting format has been pioneered by O’Reilly (see when geeks go camping). In this context, “Foo” originally stood for “Friends Of O’Reilly“, but it is also a meaningless ‘placeholder word’ commonly used by computer programmers, rather like the term ‘X’ in algebra. The success of O’Reilly’s original technology Foo Camps has stimulated a wide range of similar events, from Science Foo Camp to Disney’s Pooh Camp.

Obviously I’m thrilled to bits to receive such an email, I’ve been to scifoo once before and it was a fantastic mind-blowing experience. This time, I’m invited as a consolation prize for being a runner-up in the international science blogging challenge 2009 which challenged younger scientists to get a senior scientist to blog. I managed to convince Douglas Kell and David DeRoure to start blogs, so thanks are due to them for entering into the spirit of the competition. This year, the first prize was won by Russ Altman and Shirley Wu at Stanford University, congratulations Shirley and Russ, it will be good to compare scientific blogging notes with you both.

Now, it would have been good to win this prize, but the invite above is probably one of the best runner-up prizes I’ve ever had. Thanks are due to the competition judges Cameron Neylon, Peter Murray-Rust and Richard P. Grant for organising the competition. Thanks also to Tim O’Reilly, Timo Hannay and Chris DiBona, see you in the Googleplex!

[More commentary on this post over at friendfeed]


  1. Congratulations Duncan! You are a famous man. Well deserved fame, I must admit 🙂

    Comment by Mikel — April 2, 2009 @ 11:12 am | Reply

    • Thanks Mikel, I don’t want to be famous, I just want to be a Scientist!

      Comment by Duncan — April 2, 2009 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  2. Congrats! Hopefully we’ll have the chance to meet at BioBarCamp preceding SciFoo.

    Comment by Jim H — April 2, 2009 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

    • Hi Jim, that would be great, do you fancy organising it?

      Comment by Duncan — April 2, 2009 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Duncan, congratulations!

    try to convey the importance of the Semantic Web 😉

    Comment by Erick — April 2, 2009 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  4. Congrats, Duncan! Now I know at least one other person who entered the competition. 🙂 You got two scientists to blog, though – that’s awesome! Looking forward to meeting you at SciFoo for sure! Perhaps your locks will be long again by then?

    Comment by shwu — April 2, 2009 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  5. Awesome, have a great time! Can’t wait to hear what happens this year. I wonder how it will change as more people have experience with the foo format? I know I would go about things differently if I ever get a chance to go back. Congrats again.

    Comment by ben — April 2, 2009 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  6. @Erick I hope to do something about ontologies, but Google are pretty anti semantic web, see Google and the Semantic, Satanic and Romantic Web.

    @Shirley thanks! Looking forward to finally meeting you… I’ll see what I can do about the hair 🙂

    @Ben agree with you there, first visit is a shock to the system, second visit allows you to be better prepared. I’ll go armed (with powerpoint) and dangerous this time…

    Comment by Duncan — April 3, 2009 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  7. […] 2009 at 6:47 pm (Bioinformatics, Ontologies, Reasoning, conceptual modelling) (OBDA, Semantic Web) Duncan mentioned in a comment on his recent SciFoo invitation his “Google and the Semantic, Satanic, […]

    Pingback by Working towards WONDER Data « Keet blog — April 14, 2009 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  8. That’s fantastic – I’ll look forward to seeing your reportage of the event. I’ve met Chris DiBona at an open source workshop last year, and he’s a great guy. Even social scientists are pretty thoroughly impressed with associations to Nature and O’Reilly. At least, tech geek social scientists, that is…

    Comment by Andrea — June 18, 2009 @ 11:52 pm | Reply

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