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Re: [Ambassadors] Event Report: Palmetto Open Source Software Conference



On Wed, 30 Jul 2008, David Nalley wrote:

Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2008 18:34:00 -0400
From: David Nalley <david gnsa us>
Reply-To: fedora-ambassadors-list redhat com
To: fedora-ambassadors-list redhat com
Subject: [Ambassadors] Event Report: Palmetto Open Source Software Conference

I attended POSSCon today - it's a first year - seemingly business
oriented event - more so than community oriented. I actually came
across the event accidentally, and signed up last minute. Parking was
about 1.5 blocks. from the event. When I got down to the building
there were 65 people waiting outside. I was impressed by the turnout -
as I sit inside the auditorium there are over 100 people here now. The
Keynote from the Blue Cross Blue Shield guy seemed to be spreading a
lot of FUD about the liability of using open source software. I
thought that was all over with?? Maybe I have just been desentized
after all the SCO stuff.
Next up was Greg DeKoenigsberg - he was a welcome relief - adding a
little humor and doing a base level presentation of what open source
means, and how and where it excels. The audience is really more IT and
business people and not really Linux or open source zealots, so this
level of talk was good.
After Greg was done we took a break and I setup an impromptu 'booth'
and talked to people about Fedora, and Linux, etc. I say impromptu
because there were no other booths, and one hadn't really been
planned. Greg had brought a stack of ~50 LiveCDs and DVDs for a
presentation I was planning on making in Greenville.  I initially
brought about 20 of the LiveCDs that Greg brought - within 5 minutes
they were gone along with the stack of business cards I had set out. I
retrieved more - and would guess that all 50 were gone with 30
minutes. I put my business cards up front and told people that if they
didn't receive a LiveCD that they should send me an email and I'd make
sure they received one.
A shocking number of people at this open source conference haven't
tried open source software to any depth - not even OpenOffice.org
Following this was a really basic demonstration of OpenOffice.org. The
presenter was a professor at the University of South Carolina who had
her students create end-user howtos for OpenOffice.org this past year.
I introduced myself to her and told her about the varied documentation
projects we had at the Fedora Project and told her that I'd be happy
to come down and introduce the Fedora Project to her students and see
if we couldn't have some of their projects help Fedora out. She seemed
receptive to this thought.
I also met a comp sci. professor from Benedict College who was
interested in Fedora and I told her I'd follow up with her and see if
we could at least introduce Fedora for them.
During lunch professors from two other universities talked to Greg
about incorporating Open Source into their Comp Sci programs and some
of those conversations seemed like they have potential for doing
interesting things, perhaps akin to Seneca College, though it's
probably far too soon to speculate.
The following session was from an IP lawyer - he seemed to lean
towards more FUD. Though he has 20+ years in IP law, I really missed
the EFF types or the Duke Law people.
The last presentation was from a Ruby developer who worked for the
state. His presentation was somewhat interesting and he revealed that
they are hosting a Ruby Conference. I told him I would see if schedule
allowed for Fedora to show up and talk.
The final event was a roundtable that had people from small and large
businesses answering questions about their open source deployments.
Someone asked the question if they encouraged their employees to
contribute to the open source software projects they used. One of the
panel members said that they would be upset if their employees were
working on things other than 'work'. I posited the view that
contributing back to the community was invaluable for the following
reasons:
1. It builds expertise like no training every will.
2. It potentially means that $feature_desired_by_company will be
implemented or implemented sooner. Being part of the community means
that they can help point the project in a direction they want.
I further argued that one of the panelists had said that they offer a
'disclaimer' to their customers that they are using Postgresql as
their RDBMS as they consider it a risk point. I offered that if they
were seeking to allay customer fears they'd 'force' one or more of
their employees to contribute so they could show their customers that
they know the product well enough that they contribute.
One of the business-types had the value dawn on him -  but said that
while some of these businesses may not be able to justify
'development' time they could certainly justify writing 'test cases'
and doing QA on projects they were using. Neither of us seemed warmly
received by the business types on the panel - but you could see light
bulbs going off around the room and it generated a number of
post-event conversations about getting involved in open source
projects. I have around half a dozen people to follow up with now.

It was a good turnout for a first year event. I wish it had been
better advertised, particularly outside of Columbia.
I also wished they had balanced end-users with community a bit more -
but I made a number of contacts that would probably have not shown up
to something much more geeky.

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Great report and good work!

Regards

Francesco Ugolini


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