My experience at Open Souce Festival 2012

I had heard about the Open Source Festival, but frankly, I was skeptical.  As a computer professional, what could this Festival have to offer that I could not find out myself?  I attended, and I discovered — quite a lot, actually.

The Festival wasn’t simply a demonstration of different open source applications, like I thought.  While most of the sessions did discuss particular uses of various apps, and demonstrated features of them, it was not like a tutorial.  It was more like "what can various open source apps do for you?"  Many of the sessions compared open source to other apps, either commercial or specialty, and discussed why they reached the conclusion they did.  While they all provided benefits and advantages to using open source, most of them also discussed limitations or setbacks along the learning curve.  The Festival wasn’t designed to promote open source use, or highlight success stories.  Instead, it took a practical and functional view of open source, allowing the participant to determine for himself or herself whether open source would be appropriate.

Most of the speakers were very professional, although some obviously needed to prepare more.  There was definitely an overabundance of one company (kitware) represented.  The organizers should do a better job next year of distributing the presentations, to allow presentations from the academic side, business side, institutional (like libraries) side, and community side.

Robert Ekblaw, PhD student
Department of Informatics, College of Computing and Information
University at Albany, State University of New York

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