OpenTech 2005 roundup

by Sam Smith

Related link:

Last weekend saw a "very British" conference - the href=""> Open Tech. Aimed at
people who enjoy spending their Saturday travelling to West London and listening to people talk
with passion about what they're working on.

Over the course of the day, a wide href="">variety of sessions were
presented. From
Danny O'Brien's updated and entertaining Living Life in Public talk (following on from Life
Hacks), to presentations on software and culture, and exploding thigns from James

The headline event was the official launch of the href="">
developer network; giving anyone the chance to remix BBC content in a free
and open fashion. Followed up by Jeremy Zawodny
talking on "why the future is open, or should be".

Also in the day was the announcement of "Free Culture UK" - the
evangelist??? companion to Creative Commons UK. The building of systems and
structures around the CC movement in the UK is gaining pace; especially as
the BBC Creative Archive moves forwards to illustrate the potential.The
" href="
05/">ipod shuffle shuffle
" (take 4 ipod shuffles+owners and give a random owner
a random shuffle) was the talk of the event for a couple of hours, with
audience reaction being a mixture of shock and amusement ( href="">mostly).

One eagerly awaited (and packed) session was a panel discussion entitled
"where's the British
?". Covering what groups currently exist, what they
do and what past groups did, and should there be a British EFF? With the
weight of support from the room, shortly after that session ended, a signup
board to let you add your name to donate a fiver a
month as supporting
appeared on pledgebank (The site where
you can say "I'll do X, but only if Y people will too", from those nice people at href="">MySociety). href="">More href="">details.
Less than a week after the idea was announced, 500 people have pledged their support and money.
You can too...

BBC Research & Development were showing off href="">Dirac, their "free as in
totally" video codec, Kamaelia their simple,
concurrent, networking infrastructure; and other groups with innovations such as a href="">PVR capable of
recording all digital TV stations for a week
. With an enlightening talk,
running demos and the prescence of a number of engineers to discuss their
work, this was one of the more dynamic, and popular, technical stands. Of
particular interest was a printed document ( href="">PDF) being given out by
entitled "Grand challenges in Online
". Taking one challenge per
page, it provides an inspiring overview of an issue, why it matters, and
what BBC R&D is doing to meet that challenge. It's very significant reading
and provides some indication of what issues may need solving for large
scale online distribution, and all the tangentially related problems from
heavy infrastructure to software on the desk. It's href="">worth reading.

All in all, a very successful day, with two href="">launches, one
potential big project
and href="">several href="
, and a number of smaller ones coming out of it. href="">Recordings of most sessions are
now online if you want to hear what happened.

Other writeups from href="">Ewan
, Dave Cross, and the full
list on technorati and photos on href="">flickr.

Dave Green and Etienne
deserve a special mention for the vast
amount of work that they did on the event; and thanks to everyone who
helped in any way, large or small, with the event.

For my regular reader, "This Month (or two) in BSD" will return in
September after a summer break - July and August
will be covered together.