Report from SCaLE 7x

DSC_0079
Awesome booth volunteers Noel and Erez!

In the elevator this morning, a person asked me if I was with the SCaLE conference. He started by saying that he was really happy that we (the people attending the conference) were there, and that he hoped for Linux to be successful. And then he said, “I’m a linux supporter, but I’m a windows captive.”

Because I work every day with free software, I lose touch with people who feel trapped by their operating system. That moment in the elevator reminded me that not everyone is as lucky as I am!

This is my second year attending SCaLE. I’m just as excited as I was last year about the number of end users, systems administrators, and enthusiastic supporters of free and open source software. During Joe Brockmeier’s keynote, he asked the crowd to raise their hands if they were already contributing to an open source project, and less than 1/3 of the crowd raised their hands. Other conferences I attend seem to attract mostly people who are already contributors. I’m very happy to see SCaLE having a wider reach.

My favorite event was definitely the PostgreSQL LAPUG birds of a feather session on Saturday evening. We filled the room and had to fetch chairs from outside! Josh Berkus and Magnus Hagander provided some great slides that I used for a quick tour through new SQL programming, administrative and security features in the upcoming release of 8.4. This presentation was basically a tag team effort between myself and Josh.

More than 3/4 of the people had never attended a PostgreSQL user group meeting before, and I hope to hear that they all subscribe to the mailing list and attend some meetings!

We had great traffic at the Postgres booth. There were a surprising number of people who asked about migrating from MSSQL to Postgres. Fortunately, we had at least one person with a fair amount of Windows experience at the booth (Thanks, John!). I also was grateful that many people stopped by with follow up questions about the filesystems I/O talk I gave. I really felt like it was well received, and I hope that we end up with a few new recruits to our testing.

Great show! And now I’m off to relax downstairs before I work a downtime this evening :)

Stormy Peters: Money, developers and creativity

DSC_0028.JPG

Sunday’s keynote at SCaLE was given by Stormy Peters. She talked about open source, business contributions and the social and financial economies driving development.

Three of her research questions were:

  • What is the initial motivation that encourages people to contribute?
  • How do companies pay for open source contributions? (and what’s the effect?)
  • How do companies change projects when they join?

DSC_0029.JPG

Her conclusion was that the developer community needs to teach businesses how to do things right for the community. We can’t wait for businesses to figure it out on their own. The call to action was a good one, but it seemed to leave some audience members scratching their heads. One audience member asked, “How do we do that?”

A few interesting figures she mentioned:

  • 1/3 of all developers believe that software should be free
  • Average number of open source projects a developer works on: 5
  • 40% of open source developers are paid to contribute
  • 10-20% are paid but their bosses don’t know it – that probably was a joke ;)

One quote that stuck with me was: “Typically people have been divided between left and right brain [professions].” I don’t agree. I think you only have to look briefly at the history of science to see that creativity (“right brain”) and reason (“left brain”) have often gone together.

The developer community just like many others – regular people who want to be useful, and inspired by their work. Creativity may not be asked for in a person’s work. But people invent, dream and create regardless of whether their profession requires it.