I tend to spend probably more effort than I should telling people “Go to a FOSS4G Meeting”.
I made my……(think..think… 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) fifth North American Event. Six if you count Boston – but that was International but lets count it – so six.
I think this might be a record for me with consecutive conference attendance. I’m a bit burned out on conferences currently. Usually gis conferences are more of the same – except a FOSS4GNA event isn’t. You never know what’s going to happen. If you make enough of these you become part of the group and to be honest – I could sit in a central area and just talk to people for 3 days. Which I did a lot of….more than I will admit. We talk life, projects, and software.
FOSS4GNA tends to skip around the country – this year it was in San Diego. Which was funny because when I said “Hey I’m going to San Diego people would immediately blurt out ‘OMG You’re going to the conference‘”. Well – no. Not that one – I’m going to the fun one. Jeff Johnson hosted at the Marina Village Conference Center. It was actually a better facility than I gave it credit for at first. It was spread out so you had to be outside. What you ended up doing while walking from one talk to another was stopping and going “Hey I’m in Southern California”. You would at some point stop and sit and not worry about things. Jeff had food trucks swinging by the conference center during breaks – you just wander out and get something. Food was plentiful. Every night there was a social of some sort. You get more done at the socials and over food and drink than you do anything else.
I drifted into more LIDAR talks than normal. I’m a bit blown away at PDAL – I don’t use it for work (yet) but I do play around with it in my spare time. The work going into it and the use cases around it are exciting. I’ve been working with Geoserver more and I went to talks on the new releases that are coming.I bounced into a few QGIS talks. I sat and talked to a lot of people – some that I knew and some that I didn’t. It’s nice hearing what people are doing with FOSS4G software and why people are there. I ran into 3 people from the Southeastern US – and that was nice. I’m not alone in this area screaming into the void.
I did my talk on Henry County’s 911 Server and had some great conversations with people after it was over. It’s nice to see other municipalities drifting into the open source software realm.
I enjoy hearing Paul Ramsey’s Keynotes. He tends to look at the economic side of what we do – that’s an important thing for me. Especially because I make my living doing this and I’m always trying to give back. The synopsis of his talk: Open Source Geo is at it’s “Mid Life” with about 20 years of development. At mid life you sit around and look and there’s not much money for FOSS4G development. There’s plenty in implementation because we are all about selling solutions. If you want to check out the slides – here they are.Â What if you took your normal maintenance costs from your commercial software and threw it at an Open Source Project? Maybe hired a developer?
So – I know probably not the best conference summary but it’s hard to summarize the people. That’s really my main attraction to this conference. I can walk into a room of 500 and see people I know and miss people that aren’t there. I can catch up with friends – people are the most important part of this whole thing for me.
What about next year? Next year is the international conference in Calgary….
….and you should go. I’m going to do my best to get there. Why? People. Come join the community of Free and Open Source Software Community. If you missed out on FOSS4GNA 2019 you missed a good time. If you can’t make 2020 in Calgary keep your eyes open for the next FOSS4G-NA in 2021.