The buzz of KiwiFoo: some of my takeaways

I had the privilege of spending the weekend with lots of great energising, exciting people doing great stuff in New Zealand at KiwiFoo 2009 (aka Baa Camp).

Run in an unconference style, the topics were wide and varied and included a variety of topics such as the opportunities of Real-time data, the Economy, Section 92A, Cloud Computing, Sustainability, Broadband, Building Communities, Working globally from New Zealand, OpenID, Utility 2.0 and the list goes on.

There were so many exciting sessions that one of the biggest challenges was working out what to go to. The conversations during, in-between and after the sessions went early into the morning on both Friday and Saturday nights and were packed with great intellectual discussion and debate.

Some of my takeaways (respecting the FrieNDA rules i.e."what goes on tour, stays on tour") included:

Working globally from New Zealand
  • If we can work out how to work well remotely then this can help to keep smart young people in New Zealand.
  • Different people have different work preferences.
  • Working in a distributed environment does not suit everybody, some people prefer to work on their own, some can't work on their own.
  • Face-to-face relationships are great and being able to have a beer with somebody should not be underestimated in terms of building up relationships.
  • Low office politics is a huge help if working remotely and/or having somebody on the inside to represent your views and keep you informed what's going on.
  • Regular interactions (e.g. via voice conference, weekly updates of what's happened / what's next) are good.
  • Trust and Reputation are key to having good working relationships.
  • The Opensource community is an example of distributed working that has worked many times, and there are lessons that can be learnt from this.
Building communities
  • "Crossing the Chasm" by Geofferey Moore was recommended as an excellent read.
  • The team building the community should have people of different people types (i.e. Big thinkers, Detail people etc.)
  • A Newcomers forum is good to give people comfort in how to interact and not feel that they may be breaking rules and regulations.
  • Dunbar's Number and Maslow's hierarchy of needs are worth checking out.
  • Experience points / Karma systems can be good for allowing people to have extra privileges (such as kicking people off communities)
  • Measurement of community success should including looking from the outside in and from people within.
Utility 2.0
  • Check out Powershop for an example of Utility 2.0 in action for Electricity in New Zealand.
  • Enables consumers to have choice, swap easily between providers, potentially use multiple, flexible payments such as buying in advance etc.
  • Putting consumers at the heart of the business.
Real-time data
  • XMPP is a great protocol for this space.
  • Customers need to be able to determine what level of granularity of information they want to share with people/applications.
  • User overload of data and being able to set thresholds needs to be addressed. i.e. when is it okay to be notified and how?
  • A key question to think about is "What would real-time versions of existing products look like?"
  • An example of a good use of real-time data is that if it is raining 15km away and then starts 10km away, it might be a good idea to inform you to bring the washing in. (Hattip to Rob)
  • Pachube is like YouTube for data and worth checking out.
4 million leaders
  • New Zealand has an opportunity to be the beacon of light for a powerful small country.
  • is a great place to find solutions to issues facing New Zealanders.

  • Consider the impact of what you are doing to the environment. Is what you are doing sustainable to our planet if everybody was to do it forever?
  • Check out
  • Grow More - this is something anybody can do and very easily.
  • Buy Less - do you really need a new cellphone or ipod? consider the impact to the environment of the waste.
  • Food miles.
  • Tele-commuting.
  • Open source design could be good for products that last.

New Zealand has a huge opportunity on the world stage and KiwiFoo has renewed my confidence that every one in New Zealand can make a difference.


  1. Hi Simon - thanks for the mention. Our home blog is probably more useful for people wanting to follow our efforts at a sustainable life.


  2. Thanks for that John. I've updated the post.


  3. Great notes, thanks for that. You went to several of the sessions I wanted to go to but couldn't. Must write up some more notes from my sessions!

    On real time data: I've been thinking about leveraging XMPP and particularly ejabberd for some time now, but more recently noticed AMPQ and RabbitMQ and suspect that might be a more elegant solution for pushing lots of bits around at high speed.

  4. Hi Seth,

    You might be interested in checking out what Fire eagle released post me writing this post in terms of how and why they are using XMPP

    I also had a look at RabbitMQ late last year and it looked like a nice opensource message queue solution.

    The Real-time data space looks like it will be very interesting.


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