July 31, 2008

OSCON .... and .....Pretty Pictures or Content?

Why not both?

What am I talking about? Well, I'll tell you. I've been speaking at OSCON for one company or another for about 9 years now, and have attended for about 10. I've dutifully given my talk, slapping up slides for each of them, and my evaluation scores have been consistently between 4 and 5 (our of five). Having run conferences and sat on numerous committees, this is a pretty great record and with the exception of one talk given in 1997 (?) at Linuxworld where I -totally- bombed, I generally score pretty consistently around 90%.

I change my 'stump' speech every year or so, to keep things fresh and keep myself from getting horrifically bored giving the talks, and also to accommodate the youtubing of my previous talks. Why would people come see me give the same talk in person as I given before and is available online, after all?

Anyhow, for this OSCON, I gave, with Leslie Hawthorn, the 'Google Open Source Update' which I describe as a status report of what we've done as a company over the last year. We do this each year at OSCON. One of my evaluation forms comments said it was "more like a report to management than a presentation" which is actually exactly what I was going for. A report to the community of developers so that they can undertand our open source work at Google. This also came off as bragging to one evaluator, but that's okay.

One thing I did different this year was not use slides (Leslie had some) as I didn't really see the point of flicking past numbers that I was speaking anyhow. But I was totally nicked for this, it brought down my average below 4 for the first time in years. So fine I will give the pretty slides next year :-) Maybe a graph or two, even. That'll show em!

OSCON was a decently good time. As usually I spent more time in the hall talking with friends, and colleagues, than going to talks, but that is the nature of conferences for me nowadays, which is good and bad. One person I actually talked with for more than 2 minutes for the first time was Mark Spencer of Digium, who I kind of bonded with. Turns out we had gone to the same ALS back in 1998 and we lamented the shows demise and movement to Oakland , which was one of the factors in its death.

ALS was a scrappy regional southern show, that was run in Atlanta by the ALE Lug. It attracted all kinds of folks in the southeast who you aren't as likely to run into in SF, Portland or New York conferences. The secret of tech conferences is that even marquee shows like OSCON have a heavy regional component to them, and so I've felt that there is a unserved need for a solid open source conference in the 'GNU' South.

Maybe Georgia Tech can revive ALS? One proposal was for Digium to move Astricon to Alabama, where Mark and his folks are based. This year, Astricon is in Phoenix, and conflicts with a Google Developer Day that I am committed to keynoting at, so I can't go. I really think that Asterisk is one of the most exciting things going on in oss development right now. It's hella disruptive and strikes at the heart of the telecom world.

Anyhow, the most important thing that happened at OSCON this year (Besides my amazing talk, clearly) was Brian Aker's release of Drizzle. That project, which is a return to the fast, small, and out of control roots of MySQL has serious legs and is a welcome departure from the more complicated, stored procedures, lots of locking, and harder to scale, road that MySQL seems to be going down.

For a taste, see "Oscon in 37 Minutes" a fun video that was put together as a kind of highlights reel for the conference.


Don Marti said...

Dude -- SCALE is the new ALS.

Chris DiBona said...

Yes, for the west coast, SCALE is ALSesque. But still nothing in the South.

Richard Querin said...

You obviously don't listen to Dave Yates' podcast at lottalinuxlinks.com. ;) He's lightly involved in the birth of a linuxfest in the southeast. Check out the wiki at http://www.southeastlinuxfest.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

georgia_tech_swagger said...

Chris!! You need to talk with us UCLUG'ers ( www.uclug.org ) ... we've been busy!


dave yates said...

We are working on it.
It's still early in the planning stages but things are happening. Stay tuned for the return of Linux to the GNU South.

Brenda said...

just put a photo of a kittenup on the projector, while you talk, and you'll be back at 5 again i'm sure.

Jose M Vidal said...

Just a bit to the North in South Carolina we just celebrated the first Palmetto Open Source Software Conference (POSSCON)


It was very well attended. We expect to more than double in size for next year (tentatively scheduled for March 2009).