Tim O’Reilly reminds me a lot of Jeremy Raths. You probably don’t know Jeremy, and if you do you probably don’t know who Tim O’Reilly is, but the connection’s there.

Went to the keynotes today, of course. Lawrence Lessig gave a good speech dealing with the message he’s been trying to get out there for a couple years now: quoting JC Watts on his experiences in Washington, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.” On what organizations like Disney, RIAA, MPAA, etc. are doing to copyright and our ability to innovate and build on the past — we never been more controlled — 6 years later we are still explaining. We are losing. The debate is still framed in these corporations’ terms, and they are re-architecting “cyberspace” to destroy creativity and innovation. Lessig’s been ragging on the techies and the open source community for a long time now, this is his next to last speech. Kinda of a shame, but he needs to move on. And we need to start listening and doing something about it.

If you haven’t read what he’s written, do. I will loan you his books if you’d like, although I now have to reread his latest. This is not just an American problem. OK it is, but “we” are exporting the problem, because we aren’t resisting it. Our freedom to create is being eroded actively attacked and we do nothing.

It wasn’t until he was about halfway through his speech that I saw the brilliance of the juxtaposition of both Lessig and Richard Stallman as keynotes. I’d never connected their messages until today. When it comes to “digital rights management” and the battle over copyright, we are fighting for our freedom, which is what RMS has been doing all along.

I won’t get too deeply into RMS’s speech. Same message he’s had all along, you can find it at FSF. And read Free As In Freedom, his biography.

I had forgotten until this morning that my excitement about OSCON wasn’t just about the training. That was a selling point and made it easier to justify out-of-state travel with my cash-strapped employer, and since this is certainly the best training around for me it’s well worth it and I’m learning a lot. But it’s not the only reason I wanted to come here. I got email yesterday from a coworker wishing me “chance to meet interesting people, hear some great presentations, learn some new things, be challenged and have a sense of being re-energized.”

Re-energized. Yeah. I’m not here just because I use open source software like Perl, PHP, Apache, MySQL and want to know how to do so better. I’m also here because I believe in open source and free-as-in-freedom software. I believe in the idea. It’s a political as well as a technical thing for me. Part of what’s really cool about projects like Mozilla, Jabber, GNU/Linux, Apache is not just that they are solid, free-as-in-beer software, but that they are free, open frameworks that let developers build and share really cool tools that they need. Look at how many really cool things are being built on top of Mozilla. Look at all the really amazing things that people are building with Jabber. Or GNU/Linux. I am here, and Lessig’s and RMS’s points today resonate strongly with me, because we still have the freedom to do so. This freedom is in danger.

So yeah, it’s energizing to be here, especially now that I’ve remember that this is part of why I came. Last week was from hell, so to take the time to engage these ideas, to “network” with people working on lots of cool stuff…this is wonderful.

OK. more random notes.

One strange thing. In a water- and electricity-strapped state like California, I’m surprised that the hotel doesn’t have a program for re-using towels. Some hotels suggest that guests leave their towel on the floor if they need it replaced, hanging if they want to continue using it. I certainly don’t need a fresh towel every day, it’s wasteful: it takes a lot of water, chemicals, and energy to clean all these towels every day. So it irks me to find that my towels are replaced every day. I suppose that I could decline to have the room cleaned. Still.

I’m having trouble following all the blogs. Best list I’ve found is Aaron Swartz’s, if you’re curious. Fortunately Mozilla lets you bookmark a group of tabs, so I can open all the OSCON blogs at once. At least all the ones I know about.

Still haven’t set up blosxom, not sure I will. I thought that it’d help with live blogging of conference sessions and keynotes, but I’ve found that if I start taking notes I lose track of some key elements. Fortunately Aaron’s a helluva typist (seriously! I’m sitting next to him right now and he’s amazing), so if you want to know what Lessig or RMS said this morning, you can go there. I’m sure that Technetcast will have audio, too. And some MP3’s are posted at randomfoo.net. Must look into how he’s doing this, esd piped to lame. Hm.

Went though and talked with some vendors. Sun’s here with their little Cobalt cube, which looks cool but I am so not a hardware guy. Did talk with someone from OpenOffice.org. I was looking for a MacOS X build, but the CDs aren’t here now but will be later. I’ll need to get X (as in XFree86) installed first anyway. Or maybe it’ll be on the CD… We talked a while about organizations switching to OpenOffice. I’ve been hoping to do this at MnSCU, although it would more than likely be StarOffice, but I don’t ever expect that we will. People couldn’t handle switching from WordPerfect to Word, I don’t expect that switching to OpenOffice would go down too well. Sheesh. The person I talked to suggested hitting their lists, where they have a lot of people with experience in making the switch in their organization. She also said that large companies are starting to switch, so the “no one of consequence is doing this” argument is going away.

My interest in making the switch is twofold:

  1. Good fiscal management. It’s free. There will be retraining costs, though, so I’m not sure what sort of ROI you really get here. ‘Course, there’s retraining for MS Office updates, too.
  2. Web content management system. I’ve talked about this before and will again. Because it’s native file format is XML, OpenOffice can be integrated into some sort of CMS, allowing people to use now-familiar word processor to create and edit content.
  3. I have to admit this: I think it’s cool. OpenOffice is good software. Try it.

Guess that’s threefold.

I haven’t been doing a lot in the evenings. Last night I was at the Internet Quiz Show, tonight I’ll prolly be at Whose Source Is It Anyway? None of this leaves a lot of time to go explore the area. I’m gonna have to do a lot on Thursday night.

Note to self, and to Stacy if you’re reading: look at CVS and SourceCast. And Subversion.

I just got email from my brother that reminds me: today’s my birthday! I turn 31 today. Whaddya know. I always forget that stuff.