“ChuffCamp 2009 – el campeón” by Miguel Arringones
Two months ago we rescued a slightly-soiled Miguel from the cesspit of the Honduran Web startup scene and transferred him to a Mexican prison in Ciudad Juarez. We gave him an underserved journalistic platform, removed our iPod Touch from his batty and restarted his heart with a badly administered shot of homemade adrenalin and sambuca; and then he betrayed us. We received this confession last night instead of his piece covering the technology event of the century : ChuffCamp09.
But yet I am here. In a Mexican jail writing for TechChuff; an empty tin of butter beans on my desk and an unused VIP invite to Robert Scoble’s Leather Disco Night in my shirt pocket. I look down at my notepad. I am writing about ChuffCamp in exchange for some clean underwear and a 3G connection. I wish I were dead.
But still this week I watched ChuffChump live-streamed in our prison common room. As I stood in the throng of fellow inmates, as I strained to listen to the nervous pitches, the retweetable mentor soundbites, and barely-audible wind-breaking by journalists, a simple man next to me was beaten to death with a purple sock full of Yahoo! stress-balls. That man’s name was Jerry Yang and his time was over. This was a sign.
So what of this ChuffCamp and this new generation of smooth-skinned nubile contestants competing for the £50,000 prize? It was I who would pick the winner. A winner whose pants would stiffen slightly at the thought of their names blazoned in TechChuff’s headlines everyday. Who would be this victor? Upon whom would we rest our hopes for a new dawn, the brave new world with touchscreens and url shorteners for all? Who would bring running water and streaming music services to the villages in Africa? Who would save us?
I contemplated my decision last night as I smoked a black Russian cigarette that I bought from a fellow inmate, a Slovak gun-running Social Media Expert. I bought that single, delicious cigarette for 200 units of Warcraft Gold. In today’s prison, my home, the virtual currency is the virtual currency. And as I thought about my options, thinking about cunt.ly, goatse.cx, quimmr and spinvox in the dark recesses of my mind, I decided there would be only one winner. Me.
On this pad, this pad I write this article, I wrote. I wrote a letter to TechChuff. I wrote on behalf of a handsome Mexican prince. A prince, whose five million peso fortune had been captured by his evil uncle and held in a dungeon. A fortune which could only be retrieved by a crack team in a daring mission. A daring mission costing £50,000 and a crack team featuring me.
TechChuff sent us the money. TechChuff sent it all. I sit here writing this article with a crumpled PayPal receipt for £50,000 in my trouser pocket and a smile on my toothless face. There was no fortune. There was no prince. There was no winner.
And when I am finished, there will be no more TechChuff.