Today I'm travelling to Belgium to take my part in the orgy of elitist conspiracy that is O'Reilly's European Foo Camp and open source convention. I've elected to undertake the journey by train.
It is difficult to overemphasize how magnificent a thing the Eurostar service is. Were it left to our drab and utilitarian government alone, such a thing would never exist.
Instead, in two and a half hours of clean, comfortable carriages and more than tolerable coffee I will be in Brussels, just a short tram ride away from my hotel. With the increasing difficulty and odiousness of air travel, things could hardly be more of a contrast.
The price seems to me insanely cheap. My journey to Brussels and back costs under £60, less than my journey down to London from York in the first place.
It almost makes you wish for the heady days of the Major government's flirtation with Europe. Life seemed simpler then. (We even had a prime minister who understood cricket, but that's another story.)
Foo Camp is an event where O'Reilly Media invite a bunch of people to create an ad-hoc conference. For O'Reilly, it's a great way to take the pulse of earlier-than-thou early adopters and mad inventors, which in turn feeds their business. For the invitees, it's a great way to meet others, put your ideas out there, and get your mind expanded. For those outside the fold, exclusion has taken on an importance far out of proportion to its actual significance, which appears sadly inevitable.
Although I was present at the US Foo a few weeks ago, illness meant I missed the bulk of it while recovering in a darkened room. So, I'm looking forward this time to playing a bigger part.
One of the themes I'm seeing developing, and for which we intend to focus on at XTech 2007, is that of the increasing connectivity and blurring of distinction between the web and the world. Things to watch include Second Life, Thinglink, mobile, geotagging, ubiquitous computing.
I'm also looking forward to hearing the low-down on Railsconf Europe from those who went. Sadly pressure of time meant I couldn't go, but the write-ups I've been seeing make it sound like an excellent event, and a great progression from the Chicago one.