Wednesday, July 25, 2007

OSCON 9: Keynotes

Nathan Torkington is opening the conference by discussing how open source ethics are spilling over into the fight for transparency and openness in other areas: democracy in places like Guatemala and Florida, open hardware, our own bodies...

Then he introduced "Chairman Tim" (O'Reilly) who is giving a talk on The O'Reilly Radar.

I ran into Guido in the foyer. He showed up last night in time for some low key hobnobbing. Today he gets a field trip to Google's vast new (already functioning) data center in The Dalles. I'm going to a farewell lunch for a staffer at my office.

He and I both know Russ Nelson, also here, and whom I was recently asking after on Quaker-P (an elist).

Does Congress need a version control system? "Free as in freedom" is embodied in the tools. He's talking about how we change culture by changing its tools, OpenID and Ubuntu's Launchpad being cases in point.

There's a race between "closers" and "openers" in many arenas (political and otherwise), with tools making a real difference as to who wins, recalling Bucky's "design science" precepts: let's focus on tools that make tools; don't change people, change their environment.

Open source success factors: free as in beer, redistributable, designed for extensibility, network effects, platform. Web 2.0: systems that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.

Nat is back, pointing us to a broker for charities, suggesting we beat the total raised by the recent Rails conference.

Now James Reinders of Intel is on stage, the same guy I tuned in yesterday in the Ubuntu conference. His subject, as before, is parallelism. Intel is releasing Threading Building Blocks as an open source project. Clever: Reinders, posing as a director of marketing, starts selling TBB for $299, so this open source geek (Dirk Hohndel , also Intel) comes up on stage and interrupts, no suit, saying how Intel wants to be a part of the open source revolution.

TBB is actually open source as of this week, web site live as of yesterday, although there's still a commercial version (you're buying support).

On this same issue of parallelism and concurrency, our next speaker is Simon Peyton Jones, of Microsoft Research (Cambridge). This is the guy who led the Haskell tutorial on Monday. Instead of locking, let's make blocks atomic, an idea borrowed from the data base people. A transactional memory enforces all or nothing commits, with blocking (retries) and choice.

Now Tim O'Reilly is interviewing Mark Shuttleworth about Ubuntu. The genius of open source is in smoothing collaboration, coordinating developers.

The Q&A focused on the meaning of free in the age of network effects, the possible impact of cheap laptops. The freedom to easily get your data back out of a system was mentioned several times as key.

ciao V!