Back from LCA!

After a long series of flights this weekend, I’m finally home from my trip to linux.conf.au.

My time in Australia kicked off with AdaCamp in Melbourne over the weekend, which was fantastic and which I’ll give its own post in the coming days. I find conferences to be very intense and can never seem to find the time to blog while I’m there. I’m impressed with those who manage to pull it off.

LCA was a fantastic conference. I greatly enjoyed meeting people and catching up with old friends. It was great to be able to talk about GNOME with everyone. Many people didn’t know about extensions.gnome.org and others hadn’t actually seen GNOME3 and were impressed when I showed them my laptop. (And happily quite a number went away excited to try it.)

I gave two talks at the conference. The first was at the Business of Open Source Miniconf on Monday which was organized by Martin Michlmayr, where I talked about the nuts and bolts of nonprofit law. Since the talk was outside the United States, I kept the discussion mostly on a conceptual level, focusing on issues like governance and common pitfalls for nonprofit management. Usually I worry that these kinds of talks are very boring but perhaps this approach was better, as this time the audience seemed really engaged. I was the last talk of the day, and the Q&A session lasted well past the scheduled end time. Unfortunately, the talk wasn’t recorded but I’d be happy to send the slides on to anyone who is interested.

The keynote I gave on Thursday was my medical devices talk but longer and with more of a focus on GNOME – the thrust of the talk being that software has become critical to our lives and to our society and that since free and open source software is safer over time, we must make it usable so that we can build a bridge to ordinary users. I loved being able to talk about GNOME’s accessibility campaign in this context too. I hope that folks who listened to the talk will give to the campaign so we can make real headway on accessibility.

I was totally overwhelmed with the responses to my keynote. The twitter stream was amazing, but I especially loved the fact that folks were saying that they now want to hack on GNOME after my talk. GNOME developers should be proud about what they’re doing. They’re really making the world a better place. I’m so glad to be able to represent and support the community.

This point was underscored by Jacob Applebaum in his keynote (which was amazing but I think hasn’t been posted yet). He of course talked about security, our governments and ways that we can protect ourself against surveillance. He made great points and I learned quite a lot from his talk. In his conclusion, Jake made several calls for action, including hacking on GNOME (I was particularly proud that he quoted me as saying “the Guh in GNOME is for freedom”). He suggested we build Tor as a default into our desktop to promote more secure web use, and I think that’s a really fabulous idea. One of the problems that we have with improving security generally is getting ordinary people to understand why it’s important and how to implement it. GNOME could be the perfect place for this, as our community understands these issues and is skilled at making beautiful software that is accessible and easy to use.

It may be silly, but thanks to Jake and also Paul Fenwick who got all the crickets out of my room the night before my talk so I could prep and sleep!

I also met with a few reporters and will link to other articles if they wind up getting published.

Kudos to the LCA2012 team, especially Josh Stewart and Kathy Reid. The conference was well organized, interesting and fun. Thanks for bringing me to Australia!

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