kit blake on 4 Sep 2000 22:42:10 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Incubated in Paris

Incubated in Paris

The planning took place remotely, via a mailing list and web pages. It
went fast - a suggestion became a conference within weeks. We call this
rapid deployment.

The 'we' is a group of people, distributed across Europe, who use an
Internet development platform called Zope ( It's open
source, constantly upgraded by a worldwide community. Steering the
endeavor is Paul Everitt (CEO of Digital Creations, the inventors of Zope)
who was visiting France for a vacation. That was the catalyst.

Some people showed up the night before, and a café near Châtelet was the
designated gathering place. I ran into Alastair in the hotel, whom I know
from the 'ZopeTag' at LinuxTag 2000 in Stuttgart. The hotel was full of
Zope people because, of all the places listed on the agenda page, it had a
website. We went to Café Oz at the appointed time but found no one. Being
a gorgeous day - Paris was in full summer bloom - we went for a walk and
relaxed in a local square, watching the play of people and color. I had a
mobile number of one of the guys so I called, "Hi Ralf, my name is
Kit...."  "Hi! I saw your name on the list, there's a whole group of us
coming to the café, after we finish some last details at the location...."  
Time for an espresso. A while later my phone went off, and a girl said,
"Hi, I'm Noa, I got your number from the EuroZope list, I'm at the café,
but I don't see any geeks here...."  And so the gathering took shape.
Within an hour a dozen people had introduced themselves, strangers by face
but known by email. The atmosphere was at once relaxed and exciting.

The Parisian organizers were dynamic types, French cool, totally up to
speed. They even had nametags ready, so everybody filled them out,
manually adding the spherized Z of the Zope logo. Dinnertime, and the
decision was made to split into two groups. Kamon and Maik stayed behind
with one contingent, keeping the process running for latecomers. Tariq
asked, "Should we do something fast, or have a real dinner?"  "Food is
important." He steered us through the busy streets, choosing a bistro
amidst the plethora. "This is a good one." Classic Paris, tiny tables,
full of characters, with crackerjack waiters, blurs of efficiency in
motion. I watched him order wine, a rapid exchange of half sentences. It
took maybe 8 seconds. Bon appétit. The wine and steak tartar were
delicious. Payment was with a chip card, via a wireless device for keying
in your PIN code.

Back to the café. The group was growing, overflowing the table.
Multi-threaded discussions were buzzing in a variety of languages. Later
the entire entourage went for a tour of important sights: the Seine, the
best ice cream shop in Paris (on Ile St. Louis), the incredibly still
Place des Vosges. Paris is remarkable at night, everything is beautifully

The morning brought another resplendent day. Coffee and a croissant,
checkout, then a quick walk through République to the conference. The
location was a new incubator company, Republic Alley
(, which has housed itself in an odd
structure. It was once a covered market, but is now a chaotic combination
of fashion sweatshops and micro-industries. Seems to be permanently Under
Construction. The incubator offices were stylish, with bold colors and
smart signage. Our room was packed, the turnout was tremendous, 60+
people, some ending up on the carpet, encircling the presentation table.

In the center of it all was Paul Everitt, in the flesh. Digital Creations
is in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA, so for most of the people, this was
the first sight of the man behind the name. He has a real presence.
Positive, focused, open, full of energy, he set the tone of the day. First
the organizers introduced themselves, then everybody did a 5 second intro.
Question: "Who is using Linux as a primary operating system?" Wow, over
50%. "Why is open source so successful in Europe?" No easy answer to that
one. Paul then did a quick history, and made some not-yet-official
announcements confirming the secure future of Zope. His presentation was
completely interactive. Somebody: "How do you describe Zope in one
sentence?"  "Rapid deployment of rich media for diverse audiences." The
next session delved into the platform architecture, and future development
plans. That heated things up. Paul knows when to recede into the
background, letting other people forge the thinking. (Later he said he had
one goal: to listen). It was an open discussion of open software, and I
think he learned a lot. I know we did, see Simon's detailed notes at:

Lunch at a sidewalk café was convivial, and by Mediterranean standards, short.
Back in the Alley, the focus shifted to EuroZope:
+ Ralf moderated a panel about Zope content management, requesting audience
   input for concepts and features
+ Chris presented his Sqishdot project
+ Maik showed ZDP-Tools, the Zope Documentation Project, which is mainly a
   European effort (
+ Kamon and Tariq presented their Poster project that steers Zope in the
   direction of a Content Management System
+ Yves-Eric (who come all the way from Japan) showed a solution for
   internationalizing Zope and multi-language sites
+ Bruno and Stéfane initiated follow-up actions

At the end of the day everyone felt that we'd come a long way. The
EuroZope initiative, born in Stuttgart, had been fully incubated in Paris.

Half of the people stayed for the post-process drink, and Tariq guided us
to the city's first cybercafé, a dramatic skylighted octagon, with tables
on the main floor and computers circling the balcony above. Our multiglot
buzz filled the space. After a beer or two, some said their goodbyes and
stepped out. Those remaining went to dinner, excellent cous-cous, animated
discussion, a bit more personal, "What do you do?"  The group dwindled
further, completing the cycle, including me, en route to Gare du Nord.

The plan includes a summit at Linux Expo, Amsterdam, January 23-24. Paul,
you too.

Stay tuned:
See Joachim's photos at:

Contact continues via the list:

Thanks to Maik Röder for invaluable contributions

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: