UTOSC Wrap-up

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Utah Open Source Conference in Sandy, UT (just south of Salt Lake City). Now that I’m caught up on sleep, Fedora $stuff, and have new-house-things all squared away, it’s time to pull all these notes from the trip into one final wrap-up blog post.  Some of you may have seen my liveblog post of quaid’s keynote – here’s a bit more on just a few of the other things I caught while there:

  • My session on OM NOM (open marketing, not obscured marketing!): Well, yes, I had to be there, what with being scheduled to talk and all 😉 I had a decently sized crowd, including Jake Edge of LWN fame, who had also given a talk on Marketing the previous day, and I did my best to rearrange a bit of my content so as to not completely re-say the things he had said.
  • Ryan Rix’s Campus Ambassadors BoF: We had two people show up, which, really, is better than no people showing up. 🙂 Came away with a few good points: First, CA is not just about getting students to show up at meetings. It’s also about getting students the information *they need* to be able to talk to faculty about why Fedora, and more generally, open source is important in today’s edjamakation world.  Second: Also discussed how to get people motivated and involved. One of the attendees talked a bit about how getting people involved or able to start a club can sometimes just be a matter of money, particularly if the student needs to pony up – and that help may be needed there, either coming directly from Fedora or, in some cases, some Universities have funds available to help pay for those types of things.  We also talked quite a bit about the similarities of talking to students and talking to small and medium businesses (SMBs, for those of you playing the TLA game out there) about the truths and myths of open source, and whether or not those things can be cross-referenced at all.  I think it would be really interesting to have a small Ambassador group focus on talking to those types of businesses at conferences to show them the advantages open source can provide them with… you know, in my copious spare time, well, someday 🙂
  • Business Models for Open Source: Attended this really interesting session (I also got a free book out of it, “Copycats,” for pitching in my $.08 cents, more on that in a second) about the different models people are using for making money in open source.  Talked about the shift to how we’re in a “gift economy” – between FOSS, craigslist, wikipedia, and the blogosphere, people are really sort of coming to expect “free” in a lot of places.  Obviously, there are tons of models out there – freemium, using advertising, cross-subsidies, zero marginal cost, plus things like selling support, selling professional services, utilizing dual-licensing scenarios, etc. We also had a fun “interactive” session where the presenter talked about a FOSS software scenario and what the best type of licensing and money-making process might be – I argued for fully open source (vs closed source, open core, dual licensing, etc.) since, really, if you don’t do it fully open, SOMEONE ELSE WILL, and their move will destroy your business model.  Be a leader and be open FIRST.
  • Caught jsmith‘s keynote on Swimming Upstream.  One of the biggest things I saw was that “Sometimes in open source, we spend more time talking about what the community could be doing rather than DOING things.” Saw lots of hands go up when he asked about who is using or has used Fedora (yay!). He also fielded a number of interesting questions, including things like, “What are the prime motivators in the Fedora community for making people stay?” and “What do you, as FPL, get evaluated on by your boss? What does Red Hat get out of the Fedora Project?”
  • Caught Ignite Salt Lake in one of the evenings – a very fun event. I had also hoped to catch part of LaunchUp, but they ran far behind in time and I had to ditch out just as they were getting started to go support Ryan at the Campus Ambassadors BOF.
  • Fedora BoF – Larry led a great Fedora Birds of a Feather session, and we had a lot of Fedora folks show up to help out.  We had a number of people come who use Fedora, which was great to see, and some folks helped out a guy with mysterious problems on his system, which is awesome.
  • I sadly missed both quaid‘s and lcafiero’s classroom sessions, but I did get to spend some time with their lovely daughters at the booth during that time, and they always impress me with just HOW MUCH THEY KNOW about Fedora, and their enthusiasm in talking to people about it.   I also missed their session on “Ultimate Randomness: Girls in Open Source,” but manned the booth so their excellent parents could see them in action. I hope to catch this session or at least see them present at (shameless plug) FUDCon:Tempe in January.
  • Also caught Howard Tayler’s keynote on “Imitating Success and Identifying Failure.”  He’s a writer / cartoonist type, does content on the intarwebz as his full-time job.  He decided his “point of needing to admit failure” would be if he and his family had to live 2 months in a row off credit cards.  They almost got there, but managed through, and things are good now – he avoided failure, but was ready to can the whole notion of working for himself if he got to that point.  He also recommended a book called “The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable” which I intend to read when I get 3 seconds and get through the rest of my stack of must-read-this books.
  • Caught a session on GNUcash, which I am hoping to transition the sig0 to from a FREAKIN SPREADSHEET for his money-tracking, budget-beating ways.  It uses double-entry accounting, which is awesome, and seems very easy to use thus far.

All in all – an awesome event, and kudos of course to Clint Savage, who was this year’s executive director of the conference, as well as a Fedora Ambassador.  Ryan and I enjoyed our 12 hour ride home – I drove him through Zion National Park en route and he’d never been there, and it is totally impressive, so I’m glad he got the chance to see it.  The booth went well too – though we ran out of 64-bit install DVDs multiple times (I had some stashed in my car, so I brought those out, and we ran out of those, too!). They’re very popular, and I hope we take that into account when we order media next time around.

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