Reflections on HAX Camp

Reflections on HAX Camp

I spent the last 2 days in a whirlwind trip driving down to Durham, North Carolina to meet up with a motley crew of web developers and talk all things web components at HAX Camp. I came away with my mind reeling and trying to stay above water on all the interesting stuff I was seeing and hearing in hopes of taking something tangible away. But let me back up for a second and explain why I would end up at an event like that, much less why Reclaim Hosting would be interested in sponsoring such a thing.

I met Bryan Ollendyke and Michael Potter in January of this year at the BYU API Workshop and was immediately struck with the cutting edge work they were doing there. It was fast, loose, and out of control and reminded me so much of how DTLT worked in that they weren't getting bogged down by politics and instead going against the grain and making things work in spite of it all. Here you had a group of people that were not only building their own alternative to the LMS, they were also building advanced tools for the faculty they served and then sharing them openly in an attempt to enact greater cultural change for other institutions. Jim has a great post at that talks more about why this group captured our interest but I wanted to outline some thoughts here specifically around the event itself since I had the opportunity to drive down and attend.

If you happen to follow Bryan on Twitter for any length of time you'll realize he talks a lot. Loudly. Emphatically. Bryan is not only an excellent developer, he is a champion of the group he gets to work with (reminds me a lot of another character I know that has been a constant champion of the people he works with) and after the past two days I see why. Nikki MK is an incredible developer with a keen eye towards making all the work they do accessible to the widest audience possible. Michael Potter is doing sick work with Docker containers and web components to create microservices that meet a specific need (just check out the animated gif examples at And then you have people like Mike Green at Duke seeing what these people are developing and helping make an event like HAX Camp happen and you start to believe in real positive change.

I came to HAX Camp on behalf of Reclaim Hosting because we wanted to support the great work all these people are doing and think through ways we can make that available to a wider audience. One example to come out of that is modifying the GRAV installer we have to allow for the HAX editor as an optional replacement at time of install.

We will look to include that in every integration we can to demonstrate to people the power of an authoring experience that is not dependent on the software it inhabits. Bryan gave a talk during lunch on the first day that is worth watching in its entirety to understand the mission of what these folks are doing.

The phrase Jim used on his blog was "lightning in a bottle" and after the past two days I can only hope that PSU manages to keep this incredible group of passionate people happy (in other words fund their work and stay the fuck out of their way) because all I know is the web is better for having them in it. I/we/Reclaim remain big fans of the work being done that is the closest thing to the true web I grew up loving, and I'm excited to be a part of this growing tribe resisting the state of things today.