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More Than Open Data at the 2004 OSCON

O'Reilly Open Source Convention sparks ?open thinking? (August 06, 2004)

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 include:

- 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 model-driven development
- 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."

Additional Resources:

For complete conference details, visit:

Press coverage, blogs, MP3s of keynote presentations, photos, and news from the convention can be found at:

Session presentation slides can be viewed at:

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

About O'Reilly
O'Reilly Media, Inc. is the premier information source for leading-edge computer technologies. The company's books, conferences, and web sites bring to light the knowledge of technology innovators. O'Reilly books, known for the animals on their covers, occupy a treasured place on the shelves of the developers building the next generation of software. O'Reilly conferences and summits bring alpha geeks and forward-thinking business leaders together to shape the revolutionary ideas that spark new industries. From the Internet to XML, open source, .NET, Java, and web services, O'Reilly puts technologies on the map. For more information:

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