OSCON Tuesday Evening Extravaganza

Just got back from the OSCON “Tuesday Evening Extravaganza”. First, I'd like to congratulate Doc, who was the Google-O'Reilly Open Source Award winner in the “communication” category. Actually, congratulations are in order for all the winners, as each one was well deserved. Next up was the State of the Onion, by Larry Wall. The main focus of the speech, which was extremely good, was Perl 6. One thing Larry underscored though, was something that I could not agree with more. In fact, it's something I've said both in my blog and on LQ Radio recently. There is currently a bit too much duplication of effort in the Open Source community. It's something I am very cognoscente of with LQ. We never start a new project unless there currently isn't a similar project in place, or we think we can do it differently/better in a significant way, or we've tried to work with a project and they are not interested. In all other cases we prefer to work with and strengthen current projects. A good example would be that we will not even consider doing a Linux News site. There is nothing we could do that LWN, LXer, LinuxToday, Newsforge, etc. aren't already doing. What we will do (and have done) is help those sites where we can. I know it's tempting to start something yourself, and in some cases that really is the best option. It's not always the best option though. Don't be afraid to contribute to an existing project.
The last speech I'll cover is What Business Can Learn From Open Source, given by Paul Graham. This was absolutely fantastic. He covered so much and said so many good things that I can't do them justice by covering them here. If possible though, I'll try to get Paul on LQ Radio. The first point he made is that MSM is trying to downplay blogs and blogging by saying that the avergae blog is not very good. They're right there – most of the millions of blogs out there don't have compelling content. But, most of the blogs out there aren't ready by anyone outside the bloggers family and friends. The MSM doesn't have to compete with the average blog. They have to compete with the best of the blogs, which have incredibly well researched, compelling and original content. Content that is better than most of what you'll see in the MSM. And unlike the MSM, who can control the channel and therefore control what gets read, the really good blogs rise to the top because of the content, not because of the medium. He also draws a parallel with Open Source. Most people are not using Firefox because it's Open Source, they're using it because it's the best browser. A team of unpaid but passionate people were able to produce a better product than a team whose day job it was to write a browser. The same is true for most blogs. The content isn't for pay – it's what the person is legitimately and passionately interested in… and that is extremely hard to compete with. That sounds a lot like free markets, doesn't it?
I am really looking forward to the rest of OSCON, and will post updates as I get a chance.
–jeremy
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