Hacking Foo Camp

by Larry Chiang on December 12, 2009

Larry Chiang studies mentorship and is seeks real world education from thought leaders. Last month, Harvard Business School featured him in an article controversially titled, What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School“. If you liked How Star Fleet Academy is Like An MBA” and Learning to Love the Waitlist“, you’ll love this post: “How to Hack Foo Camp”.

TechCrunch editor, J. Michael Arrington, calls Foo Camp Shangari La for Geeks

By Larry Chiang

There are secret societies where smart birds of a feather get picked to learn together. One of them is called Foo camp and it happens in late August.

It is an honor to get selected. It changes careers. Selection is literally F.o.O., friends of O’Reilly.

Foo Camp = Think Tank 2.0.

Foo campers love to hack stuff. Foo campers also like to play a game called “Werewolf”. So here is a crash course in how to excell at the game Foo campers play all-night-long: Werewolf.

This below is for people already familiar with the basics. Villager, werewolf, seer and healer are the roles you get assigned and these are tips I picked up at the last two Foo Camps.

-1- Measure and Track Voting.

Werewolf can be a moment-to-moment see-saw of human emotion gashing open vulnerability and frailty. Gaze through the fog of werewolf to measure and track voting.

-2- Box Out The Moderator.

Over the course of one “night”, a villager gets sacked by the werewolves. If the moderator does not stand in the middle, information can be gathered.

Hope the Moderator Doesn’t Stand in The Middle.

-3- Watch the eyes of the people watching.

Werewolves during the day pretend to be villagers. Those werewolves lie all day long. The audience-people watching Werewolf players stare at the werewolves. There’s a reason watching poker live versus tape delay on TV is different.

-4- Evaluate When Seer and Healer can Out Themselves.

This is a werewolf trick. As a rule of thumb, you should never reveal yourself.

-5- Make a Pact with Your Neighbor

This is good for early round lynchings. in early rounds there is very little information so accuse everyone. Make a Machiavillian pact with your neighbor but could alienate you as an add-on panelist to Web 2.0 Summit.

-6- As Werewolves, kill the most veteran villager first.

There are smart villagers and dumb villagers. The veteran villagers that are smart too should be eliminated from the game asap… unless they work for O’Reilly in which case you pick them anyway..

-7- Fake Being the Seer as a Villager.

My interrogation mentor, John Reid would be great at this game. He not only elicits confessions, but also looks to encourage pre-confessions.

Werewolf is about false confessions and lying about being the seer can protect the true seer.

-8-  Fake Being the Seer as a Werewolf.

See the above point, but add 12 layers of complexity.

As a werewolf pretending to be a villager, pretending to be a seer, you have to be go so far into character complexity. If you’re good at this they qualify you to win an award called an Oscar.

Johnny Depp could be a werewolf pretending to be a villager, pretending to be a seer. The masterful actor in “Blow”
Plays the role of a drug dealer,
2nd pretends to be a father and sheds his business deals.
3rd emotes drug dealer into the core of the being viewed on the screen

Andy Kauffman did the same when he
1st impersonated a french person
2nd did an Elvis impersonation that was dead-on
3rd answered questions as the french person

Mortin Downey Jr did the same in Tropic Thunder
He played an Australian actor
Playing a black sargent
Playing a broken down Australian actor

Danger! Danger! Foo camper. Fake being a villager, as the seer when you’re a werewolf can get you lost in emotion or a new job in Holywood.

-9- Make a Pact with The Dead

After villagers die, claim you made a pact with them. Sometimes after a villagers gets lynched, their last words are extremely telling. Since the dead cannot defend themselves, they definitely can’t reject the existance of a pact or covenent you had with them.

-10- Take Advantage of the Sleep Deprived.

People play Werewolf well into the night. I love observing people under duress. Sleep deprivation is a time tested tool of interrogators since the Chinese water torture.

If you liked this, you may also check:



Larry’s book releases 09-09-09

This post was cranked out in about an hour so email me if you see a spelling or grammatical error(s)… larry@larrychiang com

Larry Chiang is the founder of Deep Underground Credit Knowledge 9 (Duck9). He hacked Fair Isaac’s FICO credit alogorithm and battles lies told by the credit industry such as Fair Isaac’s claim that the average FICO is 720.

Text or call him during office hours 11:11am or 11:11pm PST +/-11 minutes at 650-283-8008. If you email him, be sure to include your cell number in the subject line.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: