punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

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Open Source Panel at Balticon

The Open Source panel I did at Balticon last weekend was about as successful as the FanTek ones I have done, which is great news. I wasn't sure how Balticon folks felt about computers, but was delighted that they were as excited about Open Source as I was. Sadly, my meeting space was a boardroom, which was a bunch of us around a table, but I managed well. I ran out of handouts, and I'll post an online version here shortly.

People seemed to be really interested in the security aspect of it, which was great, but had a side note I didn't mention. I met Eric S. Raymond in the elevator earlier that day, and he seemed a bit miffed that Greg Wright didn't invite him to any of the panels. I was surprised, too, since I knew Eric is a regular Balticon attendee, and well known in the hacker community. Eric is an "observer-participant anthropologist" in the Internet hacker culture and his research has helped explain the decentralized open-source model of software development. His own software projects include Fetchmail (one of the Internet's most widely-used email transport programs), he's one of the original programmers for Emacs (the most complicated and flexible editor ever), and founder of the Open Source Initiative. He would positively dwarf me at an Open Source panel, and I would be honored and humbled to work with him. Weird thing is I knew him for YEARS before I knew he did all this stuff, and only because I saw him on the Discovery Channel thing on hackers did I go, "Eric? You hide hackers in your basement? THAT Eric?" When I asked him about the Discovery Channel, he and his wife (?) said to me, "Yeah, and they didn't give us a copy, either, we just keep hearing about how great it was from everyone else." I think next year, I am going to open extend the invitation to Greg Wright, because I'm sure he wouldn't mind to get Eric to come along and talk. He's going to be at Balticon, anyway, so why not?

But the panel was a great way to get rid of all my older Knoppix disks, too, so next year, I am burning more. I also got told I missed mentioning "Scribus," which is an Open Source DTP program. I had looked at it before, but since I never have used it, I forgot about it and didn't put it in my handout (which I had to keep to one page, anyway).

See the rest of my Balticon review here.
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