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Geeks to hold open-source campout

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For a couple of years, Tim O'Reilly has been bringing together some of the smartest people in technology for a weekend campout of thinking, talking, brainstorming and beer drinking.

Because of the A-list names--such as Google co-founder Larry Page and Technorati founder Dave Sifry--and the level of discourse involved, the trip, known as Foo Camp (for Friends of O'Reilly), has become one of the must-get invites among the geek set.

But when the event convenes again this weekend near the Sebastopol, Calif., offices of O'Reilly & Associates, O'Reilly's publishing company, a number of people who have attended previously or who would like to be on hand won't have gotten invitations.

That's why some of them have gotten together to organize what they're calling Bar Camp and referring to as an open-source alternative to Foo Camp. Bar Camp is a play on the word "foobar," a common programming variable.

Impressively, Andy Smith and his fellow organizers put together their camping outing--which will be held this weekend at the Palo Alto, Calif., offices of a geek-friendly company called SocialText--in seven days. They hope to give anyone who wants to come a chance to be around likeminded people and, perhaps, come up with some great new ideas.

"It's sort of like the place for a bunch of geeks to get together and work together and try to create something exciting by being in close proximity to each other," said Smith, a programmer for a social-browsing technology company called Flock. "A lot of us wish we could go to Foo Camp. We always thought it was a great idea, so we wanted to model something after it."

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