Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Open Everything NYC Recap

I attended Open Everything NYC on Saturday. For those who do not know, Open Everything is an "un-conference" which is a conference where the participants run the show. There are several open sessions, and a few keynotes.

Some of the open session topics were on education, Open Source Software licensing, and even relationships! The Open Relationships talk was really interesting. I find it amusing how many people wind up creating alter egos to prevent employers from finding out things about them.

(Some of) the keynote speakers were amazing:

Schuyler Erle, a guy who wrote some code for UNICEF, utilized text messaging as a means to track distribution of Bed Nets to prevent malaria via a web application, among other things. If you want to research this it's all on the wiki.

Robert Steele, a former spy (yes a spy!) whose talk in my opinion was pretty much utterly useless! I saw diagrams which were well.. horrid. His talk had ZERO flow planning, it seemed to be a bunch of conspiracies, one after the other. Let alone the fact the guy is abrasive. After his talk, I went up to him to let him know that his site (which he linked in his talk), was down; his response was condescending and RUDE. I turned to some people behind me as I was leaving, and said that there was no way I could have summarized anything that guy said (I was writing notes for the wiki); they agreed. The consensus on Robert Steele was pretty universal: Conspiracy nutjob.

The final speaker, Leslie Hawthorne, a woman I have a lot of respect for gave a talk that was short, sweet, and to the point. She disussed how open source software development can be used in a common sense way to solve complex problems we face. OpenMRS, solving the problem of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the developing world; Sahana for the disaster relief management in areas devastated by floods and such. Amazing talk! Best part, she did not use any slides!

John Britton, the conference organizer gave the closing talk, and he took notes as to what should change next time. Longer open sessions etc came up. Additionally, we found out: it's possible to do this ongoing, I'd REALLY enjoy that. I met some freaking awesome people.

We were to screen RIP: "A REMIX MANIFESTO" at McFaddens Bar and Pub by the UN, but the owner didn't allow us to do it; which was stupid. We wound up sitting around half price drinks/appetizers and had some good conversations and fun.

Overall, I had fun and would do it again. I went into this not knowing what to expect.

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