Thursday, 19 July 2012

OSCON Day One

So, my first day at my very first OSCON.  I have to say that when Ben and Martijn told me I had to do OSCON, that it was one of the conferences to go to, I was sceptical - not because I thought it would be rubbish, but because I have enjoyed all the conferences I've been to for different reasons.

But I'm really impressed so far.

The program is packed with great topics and speakers, and so many things I want to see that clash with each other.  It's frustrating, and all the sessions get in the way of all that networking stuff!

The people are so friendly.  They smile at you randomly in the corridor.  They talk to you for no reason.  As a Londoner it comes as a bit of a shock to the system.  And it's nice!  Great conversations with different people.

The venue is set up for these encounters with plenty of places to sit with the laptop or mingle or meet and sit with people at lunchtime.

The exhibition area is not a total waste of time!  The booths are full of educated people not selling me "solutions" that I have no power to implement in my company, but engaging me in conversation about things that interest me as a developer.  Many of these are even useful for my day job - who knew!

Some of the sessions are being streamed so if you're not here, I highly recommend that - from what I've seen so far the quality of the video is good and it's the next best thing to actually being here.

I'm inspired, actually.  It's clear to me that Open Source is key to our industry.  Not just because of the technologies that have been created that help power some of our most successful companies.  But because with only the love of the thing you're doing to motivate the developers, community / cooperation / people / soft-fluffy-stuff is fundamental to success.  Talks here have highlighted to me that there are lessons that money-making companies can learn from this community around how to motivate your developers.  There are even lessons I have learnt today around how to improve relationships in my personal life.

Why isn't this community the poster child for our industry?  Why isn't this the entry point for everyone interested in development?  I know we say (even I've said it myself) that contributing to a project is a great way to advance your career, especially if you're junior.  But we can also showcase some of the really interesting stuff about being a developer by using the open source community - communication, cooperation, and working on cool stuff.

Why is it that even within our industry, the open source community is seen as being niche, and difficult to get into?

2 comments:

  1. "Why is it that even within our industry, the open source community is seen as being niche, and difficult to get into?"

    Is it? I'm not so sure. In which way would it be a niche?
    And believe it's rather easy to get into open souce - assuming by getting into you mean becoming involved with a project. You participate actively on the mailing list, you supply patches and sooner or later you'll be a commiter.

    Phuhhh, I envy you for all the conferences you (can) go to B-)

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    Replies
    1. Well... it's entirely possible that it's my ignorance, but the for the first 10 years of my career I saw open source as being something hard to get into that needed you to be really good, or really interested. Even if you work in places where programming is not "just a job", it's not that common that you'll be encouraged to join an open source project by your friends and colleagues. It is more common within user groups, but it's surprising how many enthusiastic developers aren't even aware of the existence of user groups.

      Just my 2p's worth.

      And yes, I am lucky to go to a bunch of conferences - I definitely don't take it for granted yet! It's worth the trauma of standing up and talking to people just to get to experience the conference.

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