CamWorld Turns Ten

Ten years ago today I sat down at my trusty Apple PowerMac 7100 (66 Mhz), fired up a text editor and wrote the very first entry of this weblog. It said simply, “Life is a constant challenge.

There was no further explanation, no diatribe about the turmoil my life was in at the time, no links to web design and HTML resources elsewhere on the web, no opinion about politics, no product reviews or endorsements. It was simply a cheap rhetorical statement thrown out into the growing thing which soon acquired a name: the blogosphere.

Here we are, ten years and hundreds of millions of blogs later — some of use still blog regularly, offering our insights, our voices and opinions about anything and everything. Others like myself, have stopped their regular blogging and only contribute when they really have something worthwhile to say. Part of me misses it but I also recognize that my personal and professional lives have become so busy that one of the sacrifices I’ve had to make is the health of this blog.

For the past yen years my blog has been one of the constants in my adult life. It has been there through the thick and the thin. Early in my career it was there when I was the first person to ever get fired over a blog. It was there when I took my first dot-com job and when I moved to NYC. It was there when I moved to Little Rock, AR to work for the Wesley Clark 2004 presidential campaign and it was there when I met my wife (through a Craigslist personals ad no less).

My blog does not get updated much anymore and I need to renew my commitment to keeping it fresh. My new job (more about this soon) and my increasingly busy personal life are taking their toll on CamWorld. My wife and I are expecting our first baby soon (due October 1) and everyone with kids keeps telling me I have no idea what I’ve signed up for. Never one to back down to a challenge I smile and say, “Sure sure, piece of cake.” Remind me of this post in November and I may think differently!

The bottom line is my blog continues to be a large and important part of my life, more so my past than the present. Who knows what the future may hold. Here’s to ten more years of blogging!

Last Blog Standing

Sorry for the lack of updates. The past few months have been spent finishing my consulting work and preparing to take on a new job (more about this in tomorrow’s blog post). Funny how as soon as I accept a job offer the number of opportunities explodes. In the past 3 weeks I’ve had six recruiters contact me, three startups and two former employers — all of which I’ve turned down or ignored because I’ve landed at a place I hope to make a big difference in a big way.

I’m also very happy to get back into a regular schedule with a regular paycheck; something I haven’t had for more than 4 years. I also have an easy commute to lower Manhattan by train or bike which is worth a lot more than most people give it credit for. After seven years in NYC I’m finally sick and tired of the masses of people who ride the trains with their loud voices (teenagers), shitty headphones that leak bad iTunes (hip hop fans), and their nasty smelly food and body odors.

Note: CamWorld turns 10 years old on June 11. For that anniversary, I’m working on a blog retrospective piece that outlines where we began so many years ago, where’ve been and where we are going in the next 10 years.

Confabb Introduces Social Networking

The development team at Confabb has been busy these past few months. Today, we are announcing a whole bunch of new features. Here is an excerpt from a press release:

New Logged-in Homepage
Log in and check out ‘your new homepage.’ Above “your conferences” is the new “your network,” a bird’s-eye view of bulleting board messages from within your network (more on that below), your online Confabb connections and any messages sent to you by those within the Confabb community. Click on “My Account” to see the full range of search and connection possibilities. Post your own messages for everyone to see on “your bulletin board,” which will be broadcast globally or have a one-on-one discussion with other Confabb members. You can also see what others are talking about and invite new people, either from within or outside of Confabb, to join your network.

Buddy Lists/or My Connections

Just as you keep a list of people with whom you correspond daily, the “My Connections” tab is your gateway to the personal contacts you’ve made within the Confabb community – people with whom you’ve connected before and want to stay in touch going forward. This is your personal network; friends, colleagues and other contacts whose whereabouts and doings you want to follow as they prepare for the event. Attendees can view the list of other conference participants, check out their profiles, and invite them into their personal network.

Bulletin Boards

Confabb gives all of its community members their own personal blog, or bulletin board with which they can share their thoughts, opinions on the issues and experiences. This is the community member’s space; it’s intensely individual, consisting of the member’s content and comments from their readers. People can also read the musings of others within their network by clicking on the “Bulleting Board Posts” within “My Network” tab, which shows what others within their network are saying too. Each board – the individual blog and the personal network bulletin board” are completely searchable by the major search engines. You will build traffic from within the community as well as anyone from around the globe with an interest in what you have to say!

Personal Messaging

This is the Confabb community’s private email service. We respect everyone’s right to privacy so messaging within the community is handled by us; simply use the “contact” link to jot a note to the person of your choice and we’ll send the message to the email they’ve registered within our system. Responses are handled by us as well so your information is never revealed unless you choose to do that outside of the community.

I’m very pleased to see how Confabb has grown over the past few months. It validates my decision to take a back seat in December to try and earn some money (everybody’s gotta pay the bills) while the business development guys and the developers worked on the next phase of Confabb. I’m confident the team we have in place can continue to execute and grow Confabb in new ways.

We’re up to over 22,000 conferences and adding them at nearly 4000 per month. I still need to write about how we made the decision to go with manual data entry of conferences rather than automated web scraping. It was a hotly-debated issue but I feel we made the right decision. Granted, if we had the resources of someone like Yahoo, Google or Microsoft we’d probably have made a different decision.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at April 16, 2007 11:29 AM

April is Autism Awareness Month

michaelIf you watch any daytime TV or caught Nightline the other night you’ll know that April is Autism Awareness Month. Recently there has been a big activism push towards edcuating the public about autism and creating a larger awareness about what autism is and isn’t.

When I met my wife a few years ago she mentioned to me that she had a nephew who is autistic. I didn’t know what to expect. Over time, as we visited her brother’s family for the holidays and family events I learned more and more about little Michael and his struggle in this confusing world. I watched him grow into the amazing little boy he is. He is now the star of an Autism Speaks video that uses the music of John Ondrasik of the band Five for Fighting. Every time this video is watched, a donation is made to the Autism Speaks charity. This is made possible via Revver’s revenue-sharing approach that give up to 68% of the video’s ad revenue to charity.

If you care about activism and educating the world about autism, please go watch this video now. If you’re really moved please consider donating money. Thousands of children like Michael are counting on it.


Ten Years of Blogging and an Announcement

Congrats to Dave Winer on ten long years of blogging. I’ve long given him credit for inspiring me to start writing CamWorld way back in the heady days of 1997.

Sometimes I wish we could go back 10 years and push a big [red] “reset” button [that doesn’t do anything]. I know there are things I would have done differently. Dave and I have had our spats over the years and have often not seen eye to eye. Usually we simply agree to disagree and go on with the love/hate relationship that has grown into a business partnership, among other things. Dave was one of the first investors in my most recent startup, Confabb. I was very happy that he saw the value in what we are trying to do because I’ve always respected his ideas, his leadership and his way of thinking.

These days I’m busy with my blog and online community consulting; almost too busy. I’m looking around for a full-time job in New York that can offer me decent benefits and a respectable salary. My reasons for this are many. The first is that I’m really tired of consulting and need a more stable income. My startup doesn’t provide it nor can I afford the health benefits through organizations like Freelancers Union. The second reason is that the CamWorld clan will soon number three. That’s right; my wife and I are having a little baby girl somewhere on or around October 1. This is somewhat bittersweet since we tried last year and lost the baby at 16 weeks. All signs and test results this time point to a very healthy baby so we’re getting excited. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. And our toes.

CamWorld will turn 10 years old on June 11, 1997. Maybe by then I will have my new site design done (it’s been sitting inside of a Photoshop file since about Feb 2006).

Posted by Cameron Barrett at April 2, 2007 07:46 PM


An Update! Wow, an Update!

For all of you who thought I had crawled under a rock and died, I have news for you. I’m not dead! Really.

Later this afternoon I’m flying out to California for a series of job interviews with an unnamed company (I can assure you that you’ve heard of them). If they go well, my wife and I will be relocating to the west coast or what I like to think of as EarthquakeLand, which in some ways is just like TerroristWorld here on the east coast. We’ll be around until late on Monday, so if you want to meet up for lunch or brunch over the weekend, shoot me an email or text my cell phone (mobile [at], or Twitter me at username camworld.

I’m also interested in learning about which neighborhoods in the Bay Area are the best to live in. We’re going to drive around Berkeley and its surrounding towns and get some of the local realtors to show us places, but it’d be a good idea to know what’s good and what’s bad before we go.

In other news…

Confabb, the startup I co-founded last year is hosting the site for the annual Personal Democracy Forum conference. They’re taking advantage of all the social networking and conference management tools we built into the web application. It’s exciting to see our hard work pay off.

David Dell has joined Confabb as our CEO. I’m excited to see someone with so much experience building companies join our little startup. It validates the idea I had a few years ago for a centralized conference community which resulted in Confabb. I feel that my idea is now in good hands with people like David a the helm.

I’ve been doing a lot of Drupal consulting lately. I am continually amazed at how robust and powerful this community platform is. The largest Drupal site I run is, which gets about 20,000 unique visitors per day. I’m now building a Drupal-powered site for a film and video company that wants to build a large online community for the creative professionals industry. It’s a fun project that I am hoping will turn into a huge success for them since that particular market is underserved as far as robust online communities go.

Stay tuned in the next month or two for more exciting news and announcements. This year is going to be full of surprises, excitement and new learning experiences.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at March 14, 2007 12:50 PM

Cam’s TV News Debut


About a month ago I received an email from a TV news producer who wanted to interview me for a segment about online florists who scam people. Long-time readers should be aware of my extensive write-up about my experience with the ultra-scammy, based out of Vancouver, Canada.

On January 30, a freelance TV news crew showed up at my apartment in Brooklyn and shot about 30 minutes of footage of me at my computer, talking on the phone, etc. The end result (Quicktime | WMV) is not bad and I realized they used only a few seconds of material from what turned out to be more than two hours of setup, filiming and equipment breakdown.

I pretty much flubbed my interview portion but they managed to pull out a few quotes that sound OK after the editor had put everything together. The interesting thing was every question had to be paraphrased back to the producer in the form of an answer. You can’t just answer “Yes” or “No” since any soundbites pulled out for editing would then be out of context. You needed to answer something like, “No, I would not use an online florist that is not based in my city.” It sounds easy but in practice is pretty hard. If this had been live, the entire thing would have been a wash, but you get several shots at answering the question and by the 3rd or 4th take you sound OK, if not a little bit scripted.

It was an interesting experience, though I’m not sure if I would do it again. I think maybe I would be more comfortable the next time now that I know and understand the process better.


New Year, New Beginnings

The year of 2006 was an interesting and challenging one. I married my wonderful wife Bonnie in January, poured my spare time into a startup over the summer and then launched it in November. This year promises new beginnings. After a 6-month hiatus from blogging I’m working on a CamWorld redesign and want to start blogging more regularly again. To be honest, I’ve missed it. There is something therapeutic about telling the world what you think and why; whether it’s about the horrendous job the Bush Administration has done leading this country for the past six years or about why Paris Hilton needs to just shut her pie-hole, close her legs and go away.

Dave Winer calls blogging the “unedited voice of a person” which is exactly correct. This echoes my defintion of blogs written back in 1999:

You see, CamWorld is about me. It’s about who I am, what I know, and what I think […] CamWorld is a peek into the subconsciousness that makes me tick. […] CamWorld is an experiment in self-expression. And that experiment is not over. […] Weblogs, however, are designed for an audience. They have a voice. They have a personality. Simply put, they are an interactive extension of who you are.

We know now that blogs are not going away. Increasingly, they play an important role in teaching the media that every person has a voice and the right to broadcast that voice. If enough of those voices are united, they are a force to be reckoned with. Freedom of speech is one of the founding principles of this great country, despite what the Bush Administration might wish to believe otherwise. Calling dissenters and those who disagree with them “unpatriotic” and passing laws that take away our civil rights is a step backwards. Let’s hope that 2007 is a better year for the retention of our civil liberties and gets us one more step closer to the day our country can put the Bush Administration behind us and begin healing the damage they have done.

I have a busy year planned for 2007. The wife and I are working on our first little tax break for 2007, but no luck so far. I’m working in a more stable income bracket (for NYC) and am finally tackling the debt I took on when working for the Democratic political campaigns in 2003-2004. Being in debt for so long really sucks but I see it as my own personal sacrifice for the effort to get rid of a President who is so wrong for this country it’s not even funny; no not funny at all, tragic and disturbing really.

Stay tuned for the new CamWorld design, which will have some neat new features. I hope to have it done later this week.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at January 1, 2007 05:36 PM

My Year in Cities, 2006

Here are the cities I visited in 2006 in chronological order, via Kottke. Qualifier: one or more nights spent in each place.

  • St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
  • St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Austin, TX
  • Verona, NY
  • Atlantic City, NJ
  • Portland, OR
  • Warrenton, VA
  • Youngstown, OH
  • Mt. Pleasant, MI

Posted by Cameron Barrett at December 28, 2006 02:14 PM