Open Web Camp

The Bay Area's (Almost) Free Web Developer Conference

History

[Photo: Guy Kawasaki] In the spring of 2008, Molly Holzschlag, then working for Opera, was in search of a location to host a Web Standards Bar Camp in the Bay Area. John Foliot, who was working at Stanford University, was able to secure a few lecture halls on campus, and the first Open Web Camp was held in July of that year.
The event was advertised as follows:

OpenWebCamp is aimed at spreading knowledge about how to make the Web standards-compliant, giving people universal access to the best possible Internet experience regardless of platform, device capability or network quality. The content of this “unconference” will be based on standards, development, design, browsers, solutions, problems, rants, vision, techniques, politics, policies, patents, W3C, open standards for apps versus proprietary platforms, and whatever else you’d like it to be.

Approximately 125 people showed up for that first event, including our featured guest Guy Kawasaki. While the numbers were low, it was none-the-less deemed a success.

OpenWebCamp II

Early the next year (2009), John, Molly and Thomas Ford (also an Opera employee at the time) were having dinner one night and the idea of organizing a second Open Web Camp came up. After some discussion, it was decided that a curated speakers list would have more value, and the three of them set out to organize Open Web Camp II. It was also the first year that sponsors were approached to offset the cost of the event, and each attendee was given a t-shirt and lunch – a tradition that lives on today.

Open Web Camp II was held on Saturday, July 17, 2010, and featured 12 sessions ranging from emergent HTML5 techniques to mobile development, and featured a joint session from Victor Tsaran and Todd Kloots (Yahoo!) that introduced the accessibility features of YUI3. The “mainstreaming” of web accessibility sessions at Open Web Camp has remained a strong component of each years event ever since. The full list of speakers was:
[Photo: Estelle Weyl]

  • Ben Adida
  • John Allsopp
  • Tantek Çelik
  • Dirk Ginader
  • Matt Henry
  • Molly E. Holzschlag
  • Todd Kloots
  • Joseph R. Lewis
  • Charles McCathieNevile
  • Nicole Sullivan
  • Victor Tsaran
  • Estelle Weyl

Along with these speakers, a number of Bar Camp style sessions were also part of the schedule, where a few Bay Area engineers had an opportunity to introduce some of the work they were working on at the time.

Open Web Camp III

[Photo: OpenWebCamp III Banner]
After the success of the second year, it was obvious that Open Web Camp was filling a need, and sufficient positive feedback encouraged the core team of John, Thomas and Molly to take on a third Open Web Camp in the summer of 2011.

That year also saw the introduction of the current Open Web Camp logo (designed by Bay Area Graphic artist Cindy Li), as well as the elimination of the open Ba rCamp sessions. It was also the first time that speakers from outside of the Bay Area were solicited and featured as part of the line up. (Some readers will note that both Charles McCathieNevile and John Alsopp are also not Bay Area residents – however their travel plans were such that they were able to join us at the earlier events). Open Web Camp III was held on Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Open Web Camp III’s speaker list was:

  • Tantek Çelik
  • Christian Heilmann
  • Faruk Ateş
  • Bebo White
  • Tab Atkins Jr.
  • Jason Costa
  • Matt Harris
  • Estelle Weyl
  • Dirk Ginader
  • Glenda Sims
  • Charles McCathieNevile
  • Tony Guntharp
  • Kitt Hodsden
  • Victor Tsaran
  • Tiffany Brown
  • Charlton Barreto
  • Joseph R. Lewis
  • Tomomi Imura
  • Hadi Nahari
  • John Worley
  • Molly Holzschlag

Open Web Camp III was also the year that cemented the laid-back and collegial tone of Open Web Camps since the very first year. Sadly, it would also prove to be the final year at Stanford University.
[Photo Collage: attendees at OpenWebCamp III]

Open Web Camp IV

[Photo: OpenWebCamp IV Registration Table at PayPal]
2012 introduced new challenges for Open Web Camp. John Foliot had left Stanford University, and with that the loss of the no-cost lecture halls that had allowed Open Web Camp to remain cost-free. Fortunately, after a number of emails and telephone calls around the Bay Area, a new home for Open Web Camp was found through the generous contributions of PayPal, who opened their doors of the San Jose based PayPal Town Hall.

As well, a problem that was identified at Open Web Camp III was partially addressed that year with the introduction of a nominal “honesty tax” (donations) as part of the event registration. This was born out of the frustration caused by limited capacity for attendees coupled with the fact that – because it was a free event – people would sign up and then not show up, resulting in over-runs on the t-shirts, and ordering too much food, not to mention having to turn away people during the registration period only to have empty seats on the day of the event. (All profits after expenses were donated to a local San Jose food bank).

Open Web Camp IV was held on Saturday, July 14th, 2012

The speakers at Open Web Camp IV were:

  • Bill Scott
  • Jonathan Snook
  • Chris Wilson
  • Tantek Çelik
  • Glenda Watson Hyatt
  • Kimberly Blessing
  • Ben Ward
  • Estelle Weyl
  • Dirk Ginader
  • Glenda Sims
  • Denis Boudreau
  • Dave Freeman
  • Peter Lubbers
  • Oswald Campesato
  • Hadley Beeman
  • Kitt Hodsden
  • Victor Tsaran
  • Luz Caballero

[Photo Collage: Candid shots from Open Web Camp IV]

Open Web Camp V

Open Web Camp V was held on July 13th, 2013 and was the largest Open Web Camp to date, featuring 24 sessions across four lecture halls.

Speakers that year were:

  • Jared Smith
  • Ted Drake
  • Nicholas C. Zakas
  • Molly Holzschlag
  • Bill Scott
  • Estelle Weyl
  • Bebo White
  • Chaals McCathieNeville
  • Dirk Ginader
  • Tomomi Imura
  • Doug Schepers
  • Benoit Marchant
  • Glenda Sims
  • Gerardo Capiel
  • Kitt Hodsden
  • Jenifer Hanen
  • Jina Bolton
  • Victor Tsaran
  • Ann Burkett
  • Oswald Campesato
  • Meadhbh Hamrick
  • Elle Waters
  • Vlad Filippov
  • Denis Boudreau
  • Mike Taylor

Open Web Camp VI

The sixth edition of Open Web Camp was held on Saturday, July 12th. Slightly smaller in scale this year (due to limitations on room availability at Paypal that summer), the conference still drew over 300 developers and designers for the day. Open Web Camp VI also saw another first; all of the sessions presented that day were video-recorded by New Circle, with captioning provided by 3PlayMedia. The videos can be found at https://thenewcircle.com/s/post/1621/open_web_camp_vi_videos.

Speakers at Open Web Camp VI were:

  • Chaals McCathieNeville
  • Derek Featherstone
  • Dirk Ginader
  • Katie Haritos-Shea
  • Dylan Wilbanks
  • Karl Groves
  • Benoit Marchant
  • Jakob Heuser
  • Meadhbh Hamrick
  • Kevin Nilson
  • Ryan Choi
  • Joshua Woodward