I attended TorCampDemoCamp5 this week, my first DemoCamp and a great opportunity to see some new stuff, meet some new people and catch up with some acquaintances. The popularity of this forum is amazing: there were probably 130+ people there, some of them sitting on the steps of the lecture hall since there weren’t enough seats for all.

Best quote of the evening, from one of the presenters (sorry, can’t remember who at this point) when asked why he had developed the code in Rails, responded “It was like this code wanted to be written in Rails”, which evoked some laughter and a round of applause.

The most interesting presentation (to me) was DabbleDB — unfortunately not yet available — that did some of the coolest stuff with structured data that I’ve seen in a long time, like dynamic normalization and some really intelligent typecasting including calendaring based on data range fields. It’s not often that data manipulation can make me raise my eyebrows and declare it as cool (otherwise, this blog would be called Column 1 instead of Column 2), but this actually provides a potential path to putting some structure around and sharing all of that data that’s currently sitting in spreadsheets. You can read an independent review of DabbleDB here, watch a seven-minute demo (highly recommended, and similar to what was shown at DemoCamp) or a 40-minute presentation, or check out their blog. Written in Smalltalk, a language that I haven’t even thought about in years.

Also of interest was Unspace’s datagrid, a very Web 2.0 way of capturing and presenting formatted data.

Unfortunately, I had to head home and finish my taxes instead of heading off to the pub with the group afterwards, but I did have a chance to meet face-to-face with Markus Strohmaier, a Column 2 reader from Austria who is now in Toronto for post-doc research in his field of business process-oriented knowledge management. He initially alerted me to the BPOKI track at the International Conference on Knowledge Management.

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