Open Source convention: Beyond mashups, beyond Ajax

by Andy Oram

Twin conferences have been taking place at the convention center in Portland, Oregon this week: the O'Reilly Open Source convention and Ubuntu Live (also partly sponsored by O'Reilly). As we ramp up at OSCon, evidence of the drive toward openness in society continues to roll in.

Senator Dick Durbin has announced an online forum about broadband policy that started last night. Today's news that iPhone sales are disappointing provides one illustration of the importance of this issue. While the device is overpriced, I have no doubt that a key drag on its uptake is the slow network AT&T has devoted to it. This would have been considered ludicrous in East Asia.

US Government, as we all know, is fleeing from openness as fast as its so-called leaders can run. At Tim O'Reilly's open source briefing yesterday, open source advocate and version control expert Karl Fogel presented a case for recording and releasing all communications that go into making laws. Apparently the New York Times picked up Tim's blog on the subject.

The briefing also presented open web APIs, open source hardware, and other examples of how the open source movement has spilled over its origins in free software. The most popular free software packages are still infrastructure: operating systems, languages and language tools, system administration packages, and so forth. But there's no doubt that everybody is evolving in response to this powerful model for encouraging creativity.