Perhaps it was this idea of decentralisation that got Tim O'Reilly to put his publishing company in Sebastopol in the first place - and certainly they do a great job of publishing books by scattered authors.
However, if you're going to visit O'Reilly there, you need to make at least a day of it — from my house in San Jose I can get to Boston by air in about the same time it takes me to drive to Sebastopol — so Tim making a virtue from a necessity, and organising a camp there was a brilliant move. One of the strengths of Foo is that it brings in people from further afield than the Bay Area.
Conversely, being based here means that there are lots of events going on, and Bar was an example of what that clustering can do.
Which brings me back to Markoff's What the Dormouse Said, whose thesis is that it was the combination of the chip companies, Stanford, and the SF counterculture that built the computing world we live in now. They needed the physical proximity then, and going to PARC to hear from Doug Englebart and Larry Tesler about those days was fascinating.And yet, the collaboration tools they dreamed of then are now coming to fruition, in the way that I can contact friends in both camps, and others worldwide from my computer or sidekick.
I managed to get a live broadcast up from Bar camp so far-flung friends could watch and react via IRC, but attempts to get video out of Foo camp were stymied by their NAT and router. Global textual collaboration has been here for a while; adding video and audio is still a work in progress.