The O’Reilly Open Source Convention, affectionately known as Summer Camp for Geeks, is over. I’m sitting in Gustav’s Pub & Grill in PDX, somewhat enjoying a German sausage trio and really enjoying the free wifi. I have a couple of hours until my flight boards, so I’m taking the opportunity to grab a bite to eat and write up my summary of OSCON.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of the tutorials or the sessions this year. Even with 15 parallel tracks, I sometimes found it difficult to find a session that held more interest for me than the hallway track. Other times, the sheer number of tracks left me flipping coins to determine which session to attend. I hope that next year the organizers of OSCON (though I don’t expect Allison reads my blog) either reduce the number of parallel tracks, or do a better job scheduling those tracks. I realize it must be a difficult job, but if everyone attending could select the sessions that interest them beforehand, I think it could work.
Last year, I jokingly referred to OSCON as DamianCon(way), after the seemingly endless number of tutorials, sessions, and keynotes he had presented. Unfortunately, this year he wasn’t even in attendance. A lot of people were disappointed to find that Randal Schwartz wasn’t in attendance either. With the absence of two of OSCON’s major celebrities and the news of Nat Torkington stepping down as OSCON program chair, a friend pondered if this meant OSCON had jumped the shark. This quickly led that same friend to ponder if the phrase, “jumped the shark,” had itself jumped the shark.
Still, OSCON isn’t wholly about the tutorials or the sessions. It’s about the people. It’s about seeing friends from around the world (Brad, Dan, Dylan), and meeting new ones (Alasdair, Josh, Kevin), and spending a week together. A week of learning and socializing. That’s the real reason I come to OSCON. After my yearly dose of geek, I return to work refreshed, with more creativity and productivity than when I left. So OSCON is still worth attending, I think, even if it wasn’t as good as we always seem to remember (and I’m sure we’ll all repeat the sentiment next year).
I can’t wait to come back next year.