August 6, 2004
More Than Open Data at the 2004 O'Reilly Open Source Convention
Sebastopol, CA--An intriguing theme permeated the 2004 O'Reilly Open
Source Convention (aka OSCON) in Portland, Oregon last week: "open
thinking." The process by which projects are vetted and improved through
group effort is spreading beyond software and into areas such as
cartography and bioscience--welcome affirmation of the open source way for
the 2,000 convention participants.
"We've unleashed enormous technological changes, but where are they
going?" asked O'Reilly Media, Inc. CEO Tim O'Reilly. "What are the paths
by which technology moves from the cutting edge of science, through hacker
culture, and eventually into the mainstream? One of the lessons of open
source is that the project with the best community adoption characteristics
wins. Open source has found its natural communities, and is now reaching
out to new ones."
This was the busiest convention--in terms of attendance and programming--
in three years, underscoring the fact that open source and free software
continues to be adopted by mainstream enterprise, from Apple, IBM,
Microsoft, and Novell to Sun, Hewlett-Packard, and Ticketmaster. "We're
at an interesting stage with open source," observed convention program chair
Nathan Torkington. "The programmers who make it all possible are still going
strong, stronger than ever--they have Perl, Python, Mono, Java, Apache, and
dozens of other platform pieces to build on."
In addition to keynotes, tutorials, and sessions lead by innovators such
as Freeman and George Dyson, Bdale Garbee, Robert Lefkowitz, Milton Ngan,
and David Rumsey, evening events kept the conversations rolling into the
wee hours, punctuated by receptions and sponsored parties. A moot court,
organized by UC Berkeley's Pam Samuelson and Pamela Jones of Groklaw,
aired the legal issues of the Linux/SCO case. Perl legends Larry Wall and
Damian Conway and "Hackers and Painters" author Paul Graham all spoke
during the traditional Tuesday Night Extravaganza. NASA's Jeff Norris gave
a presentation on how open source is powering the Mars Rover mission. In
addition, attendees packed the sold-out exhibit hall during its two-day
run; organized birds-of-a-feather sessions on topics like Plone, poker,
human creativity, and e-voting; and wrapped up the convention with a field
trip to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
OSCON continues to be a forum for important announcements. Some of the
organizations and businesses getting the word out at the convention
BEA announced the expansion of its developer site, dev2dev
O'Reilly previewed "Make," its magazine of do-it-yourself tech projects
which debuts in January 2005
MySQL AB announced that it will team up with O'Reilly to present the
2005 MySQL Users Conference
M1Global introduced a set of free and open source software relating to
ActiveState released Komodo 3.0
"Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves, which is very gratifying,"
concluded Torkington. "We're going to do everything we can to make next
year even bigger and better."
For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the
convention, contact Andrew Calvo at (707) 827-7176, or
For more information on open source-related issues, visit onlamp.com.
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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