Technology

OSCON: Arguably the Best Conference of the Year

17 Jul 2014 12:33pm, by

OSCON is almost here and, I have to say, it is one of the best conferences of the year. Perhaps I should rephrase this: OSCON is the best of the big technology conferences. There are a number of awesome smaller conferences: Defrag, Gluecon and others. There are also conferences that relate to open source projects: Gophercon, Hadoop World, etc. And then there are the vendor shows, which, with some exceptions, are generally one-dimensional. I am at the Esri User Conference right now, and it is one of the best vendor shows I have attended. AWS re:Invent ranks high on my list, too.

Here’s why I like OSCON so much:

  • OSCON is in my hometown of Portland, Or. and happens at that time of the year when the sun shines, the sky is blue, and I can actually ride my bike at night in shorts and a t-shirt.
  • It’s the geekiest of events.
  • It attracts the smartest technology people in the world.
  • It’s all about open source and the wonders it offers.
  • The keynotes are awesome. This year’s keynotes include talks by Tim Bray, the famous programmer and entrepreneur; Cat Allman, a Google Open Source Program Manager; Rachel Nabors, an interaction developer and cartoonist; as well as Simon Wardley, a well-known researcher and “geneticist with a love of mathematics and a fascination in economics.”
  • The sessions are numerous. I was just looking at the database and data stores track and came across this: Using Elasticsearch to monitor your drone project. Yes, that’s awesome. Other tracks include sessions for cloud, eduction and business. Here’s one about Mapbox and the future of open mapping. OSCON is the one event with a track dedicated to the geek lifestyle. Philip Lindsay, for example, will do an intro to Arduino. Edward Finkler will discuss open-sourcing mental illness.
  • There’s an Open Cloud Day, which is usually bent toward vendors, but there are a lot of new topics to discuss these days, such as the Docker story, CoreOS, Ansible, Salt Stack and other open source efforts.

I asked O’Reilly Media Senior Editor Simon St. Laurent about the themes expected to be discussed at OSCON. He said cloud and mobile are still very new to developers.  That may seem like old news to people in the heart of San Francisco, but the concepts and practices of these two themes are still unexplored by most people. Here’s why, as I wrote in a post today about Amazon’s move up the stack.

Laurent told me in an interview last week that developers are building on new types of devices but using cloud services to build what is required, so there are all sorts of overlapping issues.

The CPU, memory allocation and communication requirements of mobile devices require new understandings about what really makes sense to develop on these hardware technologies.

For example, there is a resurgence in functional programming languages. Go, Haskell and Scala all enjoy a growing popularity, which is evident in the OSCON program with sessions on topics such as “Functional Thinking.”

Hope to see you in Portland next week.

Flickr image via Creative Commons by Julian Cash

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