Birds of a Feather (computing)

In the world of computing, BoF (Birds of a Feather) can refer to:
* An informal discussion group. Unlike Special Interest Groups or Working groups, BoFs are informal and often formed in an ad-hoc manner. The acronym is used by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to denote initial meetings of members interested in a particular issue.
* A BoF session, an informal meet-up at conferences, where the attendees group together based on a shared interest and carry out discussions without any pre-planned agenda.

The first use of this term among computer specialists is uncertain, but it was employed during DECUS conferences and may have been used at SHARE user group meetings in the 1960s. [cite book | first=Mad | last=Macz | year=2002 | title=Internet Underground: The Way of the Hacker | publisher=PageFree Publishing, Inc | id=ISBN 1930252536 ]

BoFs can facilitate networking and partnership formation among subgroups, including functionally-oriented groups such as CEOs or geographically-oriented groups. [cite web | url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2001_March_13/ai_71627961 | title="Birds of a Feather" Sessions Highlight Revamped ISPCON Spring Conference | date=March 13 2001 | publisher=Business Wire | accessdate=2008-05-31] BoFs generally allow for more audience interaction than the panel discussions typically seen at conventions; the discussions are not completely unguided, though, as there is still a discussion leader. [cite web | url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2004_May_18/ai_n6032036 | title=Mac Users to Drive Discussions During Birds of a Feather Meetings at Macworld Conference & Expo | date=May 18 2004 | publisher=Business Wire | accessdate=2008-05-31]

The term is derived from the proverb, "Birds of a feather flock together.". (In old poetic English, "birds of a feather" means birds which have the same kind of feathers, so the proverb refers to the fact that birds congregate with birds of their own species.)

See also

* Unconference
* Open Space Technology

References

External links

* [http://www.ietf.org/ietf/1bof-procedures.txt Instructions for Requesting a BOF (Birds of a Feather) Session] at IETF.


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