Sunday, October 05, 2008

What the f_ck is wrong with

Ahh. I made a rather long post about my dissatisfaction with, and then killed it. There's no point. Obviously the organizers are in no mood for criticism, and we open source hordes are only welcome if you actually "contribute". Which is, code, by the way. Nothing else counts. Sure, that's gonna take me out - I'm no great open source contributor - I'm just somebody who uses it effectively, send in occasional bug reports and patches, and talk about it reasonably coherently - which means I'm not welcome at the latest avatar of

Which is sad - because it played such an important role in my fascination with foss. Now, somehow, all the announcements come across as arrogant, elitist, and nothing but an elaborate circle-jerk. There. I said it. I have no compulsion to make my annual pilgrimage to, either as a speaker or part of the audience (oh, I forgot, there is no 'audience' now - only hackers coding on whatever they think is cool). Now, I fail to see how this can be beneficial to me - I can meet plenty of Rails coders online, and I can collaborate with them happily. And I get a fairly clear idea about who's involved with Rails by just looking at the mailing list and reading people's blogs. If I want to meet Rails people, I would go to some sort of RailsConf. Because those are the only people I can hack along with.

Now, why would I go to a general-purpose foss conference like To learn about other projects. To check out the cool stuff happening outside of my little world. To listen to people talk about the stuff they are acheiving. I can always get into technical stuff later if I'm sufficiently interested. If a bunch of yobbos are sitting around hacking on some esoteric module without me really understanding the scope of the project itself, what chance do I stand in gaining anything there?  Am I supposed to bug the busily-hacking people to stop and explain me everything? I'm sure they would point me online. Of course I won't be of much use to the group unless I polish my fundamentals a bit.

So this is all getting a bit self-contradictory. They are trying to achieve the results of a specialist conference at a general purpose one? Why do people who are experts in something come to a general purpose conference and hack with their own kind? They have other platforms to do so. Easiest being, the web. The whole point in me being interested in something like as opposed to a random Ruby/Rails conference is to check out what _others_ are doing. Not to indulge in some futile exercise of intellectual masturbation with only a few others who have an inkling of what you're talking about.

What is truly astounding is the organizers' inability to accept any sort of criticism at all. Come on, guys, nobody's perfect. We don't expect you to be. That's why we are trying to help. You try to discuss something even remotely non-superficial about the direction of the conference in the mailing list, you get proverbial blank stares. Either it's too late in the day to discuss this, or the person is trying low-brow tactics to damage C'mon people, give the paranoia a break. Nobody is trying to steal your little conference from you. We care because we can see the potential for it being so much more. We feel that you're limiting it's scope by bringing all this contribution bullshit. There are better venues for that. Also, if it's so late in the day to change direction, how come nobody asked us for honest feedback last time around? Ah. Wait. You're too busy showing off how chummy you all are, how we're not part of the elite inner cirlce of devotees, and how everything went swimmingly well.

Now, I won't be too surprised if somebody comes along here and says I'm bitter because I wasn't invited into the inner-cirlce. At which, I would laugh pityingly and probably show my middle finger. What is truly frustrating is personal attacks by some of the organizers and attributing ill-will to people who are only trying to help and question the direction the conference is taking. It's like nobody is allowed to question the direction set by the holy circle-jerking crowd of Good luck folks, tell me how it goes. I'll be shooting air with my coder buddies on random IRCs. That will probably be more productive than spending 3/4 days and a lot of travel money on stroking your egos.


Anonymous said...

I used to attend foss events too. One of the important ingredients missing in current events, is promoting Foss culture in the general public. Especialy in educational institutions at the grass roots level; something which proprietary software companies are aggresively targeting through road shows, marketing etc. If we can not instill a sense of Foss culture in the young ones there isnt much of a future in the long term. Hacker culture is great, but it, needs to be promoted beyond "inner circles" etc. for society to benefit in a broader perspective.

Vamsee said...

Hi Arun, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I stopped caring about a long time ago. I didn't even bother to look at the site this time around. As I've always said, if you create enough general awareness, one or two of them will eventually contribute. Calling a conference contributors-only is sad, because it is more exclusionary than really helpful.

But I guess it's okay. They are free to set their agenda. There will be smaller, regional foss events which will take up the mantle sooner or later. If they want to slip slowly into irrelevance, its' their choice.