Thursday morning, the conference is more than half way over. It’s once again time for some keynotes. They opened with an open content video from REM. I don’t know why. It wasn’t very good.
Our first speaker this morning is Keith Bergelt of the Open Invention Network, speaking about Open Invention Network and Its Role in Open Source and Linux. He’s speaking about patents and intellectual property in Open Source, the realities of it today and where he sees it going tomorrow. He’s big on the buzzwords, and this is not the right audience for it. In fact, a game of Buzzword Bingo has already broken out in the IRC channel.
In summary, “Blah blah patent blah blah buzzword blah blah we care blah blah.”
Oh wait, he droned his way to a point. One of the things the Open Invention Network does, and I should have known because I’ve seen this before, is to buy up patents and keep Open Source safe from them. At least, until their funding dries up and they turn to their patent portfolios to squeeze money out of everyone.
I seem cynical this morning. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep. Or maybe the first keynote today is boring. The back-channel conversation on IRC is actually quite entertaining, though. I need to whip up a quick IRC log file analyzer to correlate IRC traffic to keynote speaker. Then I can use it as a tool to rate speakers.
The pain is finally over, and the program chair has caught buzzworditis from the last speaker. Next up is Peter H. Salus to speak to us about Anniversaries. I’m told by Nat Torkington that Peter is an Unix historian. He’s started off by showing us a picture of the first transistor, which is about 20cm and a bit more than that around. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in 60 years—how many iPhones can fit in the same volume?
Anniversaries, in this case, are major milestones in computer history. The first electronic computer; the first time-sharing system; the first Unix paper by Ritchie and Thompson; the GNU project. One of the interesting things to learn is that history repeats itself. Back in the days of ARPANET, there was an issue involving the exhaustion of address space on the network. Short-sighted problems like that would never happen today, right?
I enjoyed this keynote speech, but probably because I really enjoy history.
Next up, Supporting the Open Web with David Recordon of Six Apart. It’s not just the open nature of the software or the platform that matters, but the openness of the data. Without open data, the Open Web can’t work. Interoperability and open specifications are vital to moving forward with the technology. The Web must be accessible, not just available on one device or another.
The majority of the talk is dedicated to talking about the various organizations doing work to keep everything free and open, including the Open Source Initiative, Creative Commons, and the Apache Foundation. There are also quite a few people donating a lot of their time to help.
He’s announcing the formation of the Open Web Foundation. They don’t necessarily want to form their own foundation, but they have had little luck finding an existing one to do what they’ve asked.
The Open Web Foundation will focus on four areas: incubation, licensing, copyright, and community. Many companies, such as Google and Yahoo have already shown support for this new foundation.
Following David is Danese Cooper of the Open Source Initiative and Intel Corporation to speak about Why Whinging Doesn’t Work. A catchy title, and she introduced her talk with a funny video of a choir of Finnish women singing about all of the complaints they have (search YouTube for “complaints choir“).
She’s making a very good point. There are so few women in Open Source. Geek are often intimidated by women and women are so often objectified. It’s true, there is a huge gender imbalance in the geek community. Of all the geeks I know, I can name very few women. I’m having a daughter soon, and you know what, she’s going to learn to code.
However, the feminist angle is merely a way of personally relating to the main point of her talk. People complain. I do it, you do it, the guy sitting next to you does it. But whinging doesn’t help. Mostly, all whinging does is beget more whinging. That energy used to complain needs to be channeled into something constructive.
For seven years, Danese was the only female member of the Open Source Initiative’s board. Now 30% of the board members are female. Progress.
Finally, Nathan Torkington, former OSCON program chair and recently of He Hononga Software, Limited and his keynote, fork() && exec(): Spawning the Next Generation of Hackers. Thank goodness, this talk is not about geeks having sex.
I’ve been looking forward to this keynote for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve missed hearing Nat speak this year. Second, I’m expecting my first child in a couple of months. Not only that, two other members of my local Linux User Group are either recent or expecting fathers. Suddenly, topics involving children are much more interesting to me.
Nat recently moved his family back to New Zealand. One of the things he does now is to help teach children about computing. In his school district, the computing infrastructure was awful—and used Windows. So he got a handful of Macs and became the Bastard Operator from Hell for his kids’ school. Then he started teaching the schoolchildren. Quickly, he discovered that the teachers needed teaching as well.
One more thing he wanted to do was to teach programming. He feels it’s a very important skill. But it has to be done right. Avoid the frustration that so many of us experience with computing and programming, but something consistent, easy-to-learn, but still powerful. Nat’s introduced Scratch. The kids loved it.
- Lectures suck (you have two minutes to say what you want)
- The gender gap is not what you think (girls are smarter and more focused than boys)
- Keyboards are a challenge
- Not a lot of experience with math
- Robots are lame
So please, volunteer in schools. Perhaps remove Windows and bring the joy of Linux to their lives. Find, or create, good courseware, such as Scratch. Post it on your blog, so everyone can find it. Finally, don’t profit. Do this for the good of the children, our future generation of geeks.
With that, we’re off to the expo hall for the break.
[tags]oscon, oscon08, oscon2008[/tags]