Tuesday Jul 22, 2008

Un-Booth at OSCON

One of the perennial problems of sponsoring an open source conference is that the organisers always seem to want the sponsorship to pay for an exhibition booth. Exhibition booths need furnishing and decorating. They need things to exhibit. They need staffing. Most of this would be fine at a traditional exhibition, but at an open source conference there aren't many people attending to choose things to buy and thus the sales staff aren't keen to do all the above.

So what should we do with that booth? An approach we first tried at FISL a few years ago was to stop treating it as a selling space and start treating it as a social space. This year at OSCON in Portland we've decided to open up and dedicate our booth to hosting a micro-unconference. We've set it up with whiteboards, tables, electrical outlets and fresh coffee. And if having a place to veg isn't enough, we've invited all comers to deliver lightning talks throughout the two days. There are still a few slots on the agenda if you want to deliver a talk, but the quality of the speakers already listed is high (check out Monty's talk on Maria for example).

By the way, the legendary (or is that "mythical") Sun FOSS Party is back again this year, 8pm in the parking garage at the Doubletree hotel on Wednesday (July 23). Loads of cool diversions and I gather there is plenty more to drink this year than last. All welcome.

Wednesday Jul 25, 2007

Redefining Open Source?

Portland at Dawn

There was a panel today at OSCON on Who gets to decide what open source means and it reminded me of experiences at Sun when I started in my current role. I kept meeting with marketing folks who thought "open source" was purely descriptive, and that they could define it any way that suited them. Each time I'd tell them no, that's not what Sun does, Sun only calls things "open source" when they are licensed using licenses approved by the Open Source Initiative as complying with the Open Source (License) Definition.

It's true that there's more to open source than that, but the overwhelming consensus of what Eben Moglen called the "republic of open source" is that a conforming license is a baseline requirement. They'd argue for a while, but in the end it always came down to this: if open source didn't mean something already, you'd not want to use the phrase for marketing. I didn't let the marketeers mess with it and neither should you.

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Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.

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