The web failed to let me know about this one before it happened, but last week The first ever FAILCON event took place, where 400 people met to talk about and learn from failure (hat tip: Lynn). The only other thing like it I can think of is failcamp, which didn’t get the buzz it deserved.
From the nice writeup on Wired, it appears the event went well and hopefully there will be more events like this, or perhaps even other well known events will adopt a “Learning from failure” track. If you can get high profile folks like those who spoke at FAILCON to talk about failure, it makes it easier for everyone else to do it as well.
At FOO camp, most years Joshua Schachter runs a little session called ‘That Sucked’, where anyone who wants to can tell a story about something going horribly wrong, and it’s always a fun and popular session (I remember one year Paul Graham told a story of a bug in his code that caused an old plotter style printer to fling it’s printing head off it’s rails and fly across the room).
In many cases I bet people learn more from hearing people they respect talk about their mistakes, than hearing people tell perfectly fake, boring, takeaway free stories of things going perfectly well (e.g. lies).