Day 4 at foss.in

It is a chilly morning (note to myself: ensure frequent trips to Speaker’s Lounge to get that good coffee) and here I am at the LinuxChix Stall trying to compose a live blog between distractions of meeting and (re)meeting friends and of course Shreyas dragging me to Simon’s talk – now that was even more irrational. I had planned not to attend any talks today and sit down to hammer out an agenda for the Software Testing BoF which is scheduled for 1700 today (note for Tejas: dude you rocked y’day when you helped out with the BoF, do the same magic today). Is it only me or does everyone feel that the 750 seater is a really cosy and cold place to fall asleep. I hope I don’t start snoring in the middle of the talk which I think is about the bounty aka the Community Innovation Awards. There’s some very strummy music being played over the speakers and all I see on screen is a hell lot of graphics. I *so* need my coffee

Ok, this bit gets interesting –  being introduced by Atul as someone who “gets it” Simon seems to attempt putting the context of Free Software (FOSS) or more precisely the reason for existence in the backdrop of social topologies evolving through the agrarian and industrial revolutions. FOSS is just a means of expression of the global mesh that has been a fallout of the industrial revolution. That’s fairly interesting although a pity that he does not expound too much on that. That is something that you can generally relate to in the context of the “World is Flat” paradigm. He quotes a Gartner report stating “By 2012 70% of commercial software would contain FOSS bits” . Simon also touches a bit about how “we must learn to co-exist” by giving a few examples of conflict or possibilities of such, as well as touching upon license proliferation. “Sun should not think about the business it wants to do, but think more about the community” so as to ensure that it fits in with the community. License proliferation limits free software to originating companies by creating little isolated bubbles which limits innovation and forms a barrier to contributions. He estimates the need for Category Convergence in Free Software licenses. “Software Patents are bananas” and a vehicle that allow predatory behavior.  Corporate employees are more prone to file software patents as part of their corporate development. “Software Patents don’t help engineers to learn new skills”. Covenants better means to deal with software patents than grants. However, the optimal way would be to use Free Software licenses that deal with software patents more intelligently. Right now only “strong rich patrons” are the best defence against software patent trolls aka have a bear on your side to win the battle. Touching upon trademarks using Firefox as an example who used trademarks towards brand relevance.

Transparency is key to community but transparency != democracy but meritocracy. Distributed Authority is perhaps a good way to handle community. Not everyone is in a community for the same reason, people gather around a Free Software commons forming a coherent community with a defined aim : Co-developer community, Deployer-Developer Community and User Community is one of the ways of looking at a community. Standard rules of corporate development including remote development is not the way to engage with the community. Get up close and personal – shake hands. Posturing is != doing Open Source. Travesties and pretensions are dealt sternly with and a corporation which just wants to add the logo on their marketing PR.

In short, this time 1m $ distributed at community discretion is the Sun Open Source Community Innovation Awards.

A short note

A lot of people seem to think that Planet FLOSS India is “my” planet. Rest assured it is not. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you will find that the contact person is somewhat different. Feel free to mark a copy of the mail to me, but don’t go around mailing everybody as to why your feed was not added or why it was removed from the planet. That adds to the confusion and does not allow leverage.

Generally lazy day doing crazy things…

I am sure that the pictures would be up soon, but it was a nice day at the event doing practically nothing other than idling in and out of a few talks. Met up with old friends, checked some mail (generally office mail – whew !!) and IM-ed a bit. By the way, I have moved from Gaim/Pidgin as IM client to Empathy – allows me to do all that I want without being too intrusive. Some folks complain about apostrophe sign but I am not too sure what the issue is without a screenshot. Sitting at the LinuxChix.org.in stall it is a trivia as to how many folks shy away from taking their sticker – what’s with all that ? More detailed post later … feeling sleepy and I think the OO.o BoF we have in an hour’s time would be interesting in light of the OO.o Project Day.

The OpenOffice.org Party

Umm ok it was the Project Day 🙂 and we had the same hall as yesterday (Seminar Hall A – 120 seater). From the grand scale of what was to be a OO.o RegiCon (Regional Conference) to the Project Day it has been a fairly long road. The underlying notion of having a Project Day was to talk around the 3 dominant themes:

  • lower the barrier of entry to the project
  • get more contributors to access resources from the project
  • ideate about creating a “community” around the project in India

The last point is a kind of thorn_in_you_know_where especially when it comes to India. There is closed door (and often forked) contributions which do not see the light of upstream and more often than not, not much focus on the areas which can be called the infrastructure blocks of spellcheckers, dictionaries and the like. It is in this respect that I looked forward to the Documentation related talk from Frank Peters – that is an area that could do with some love especially when it comes to providing local language documentation. Additionally, getting an insight into areas like extensions, documentation, macros allows someone to choose what and where to contribute to.

A round of thanks to those who came a long way to be part of the Project Day, it was nice to meet old friends and make new ones. I had fun, and I hope that if we can manage the BoF tomorrow it would be fun as well.

We need to figure out why OpenOffice.org is not doing the Google Highly Open Participation Contest.

Another day, another Project Day

GNOME was part of the first batch of Project Days at foss.in/2007. If the delegate statistics were something to go by, application of the general rule of thumb would have expectations of around 60 people at the Project Day. Given that this was the first time we had Project Days no one really knew what to expect. So there we were with the goodies well before time at around 0830 and already there was a crowd of people waiting with that patient expectation to get into the venue. GNOME was slated in the 120 seater hall and the start was a bit of a let down. With the hall hardly 10% full, the speakers went outside to rustle up some potential attendees. By the time it was “the talk” on GNOME Art, the audience had increased to around 60% and soon we overshot the capacity of the hall and were averaging around 135-140 delegates in the hall. Post lunch talks did not have the expected downward spiral of delegates but more of a “sit on the stairs and listen” kind of attendance. Plenty of questions, some interesting exchanges and of course the usual glitches with the projector were also part of what happened. All said and done, by the time it was the last talk from Naba Kumar, I was pretty happy with the way things turned out. 120 seats are in fact probably the best capacity for a Project Day – neither too much, nor too little – allowing just the right kind of interaction which keeps the interest level going. A big round of thanks to the team who made this possible and the speakers, some of whom had come down from various places to make this happen. Rest aside, we’ll have it again next year.

Now … to sleep.