Preimpressions of the P2P conference

by Andy Oram

They tell me that the Westin St. Francis is San Francisco's most elegant hotel. Its formality does not fit the image of the people I've been dealing with in the P2P world over the past six months, many of whom are scruffy graduate students. In fact, some are even undergraduate students (although these tend to be less scruffy than the graduate students). But I am being unfair to my beloved authors and august companions, some of whom are well-regarded experts in computing.


I'm honored with a corner room on the 11th story, from which I can see the corner rooms of two neighboring 11-story buildings. The room is small and there's a special electricity surcharge on the bill to make outsiders share the pain with Californians.


Still, the twisty staircases, opera-house presentation space, and dim hallways (which make the hotel a perfect setting for a 1930s-style mystery movie) should provide a congenial setting for all the novel ideas that will emerge over the next three days. I am psyched to hear new things. At least twice a week for the past several months, somebody somewhere has sent me an article that provides a perspective I haven't yet seen on the wide-ranging P2P phenomenon.


An example of what we don't need comes from a book called Meta-Capitalism, which I saw heavily marketed in the airport. The authors' thesis is that we are entering a stage of accelerated capitalism (wasn't the orignal version destructive enough?) during which successful companies decapitalize and divest themselves of productive facilities. So who the hell will have the capital and the productive facilities? Unsuccessful companies? Let no one at this conference fall into such babble. Check this space for something more significant tomorrow.