Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wednesday at OSCON (a little late in posting)

The most interesting session (from a comedic standpoint) was Measuring Open Source Popularity by Luke Wellington from Hitwise. He started with the quote: “Hi, my name is Luke and I am a data addict”; however, it was quickly apparent that he was not able to effectively present his data. Michael Tiemann even suggested that he read some books by presentation guru Edward Tufte ... Ouch.

My favorite moment of the day was when Matt Asay referred to himself as a naive little waif (accompanied by an interesting waif-like little dance across the stage) to describe his early sales experiences thinking that if he set a fair price that big customers would not want big discounts. Matt had 9 lessons learned from doing business in open source. A few of my favorites included 2) Friends (downloads) are nice. Cash (customers) is critical. Make Both. 4) Think “user community,” not “developer community” and 9) Be permeable (open and acknowledge mistakes).

I always like to keep track of what is on Tim O'Reilly's Radar. This year, a few of these include Firefox as a platform, Voip / Asterisk, Ubunto, and O'Reilly Labs.

Scott Yara from Greenplum had an interesting open source and rock & roll comparison encouraging people to not to jump in because open source is popular, but to start a project to make something great (do you want to be as popular as The Backstreet Boys or as good as Jimi Hendrix?)

Anil Dash from Six apart talked about how the key to web 2.0 is connecting to people that you care about through blogs and about how people can find niche communities to connect with co-workers, peers to help anybody get connected.

R0ml gave Part III of his Semasiology of Open Source (semasiology = study of the change in the meaning of words over time). It was highly entertaining, which made it impossible to take notes on it!

Probably the best session of the day was How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People by Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian W. Fitzpatrick. They talked about how attention and focus are your scarcest resources – you must protect them (esp when dealing with poisonous people). These poisonous people can take the form of trolls that actively disrupt the community or perfectionists and process obsessed people who unintentionally derail forward progress (talk forever & never finish anything). The had a few suggestions: understand the threat, fortify against it by building a healthy community, identify poisonous people & look for warning signs, deal with infection / maintain calm & stand your ground.

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