FOSS4G 2017

Aug 21, 2017 | FOSS4G, GIS, OSGEO, QGIS, Rambling

I’ve been sitting here for 2 hours trying to decide how to tackle this conference wrap-up on FOSS4G 2017. I’ve written and deleted and re-written and deleted it yet again.

Lets try this – I hate conferences. Mostly. I don’t hate the FOSS4G ones. I love them. It may sound like I’m about to take a trip into gushing over a conference and the attendees and the people that put it on. I will just a little.

I seek out different these days for conferences. My first GIS conferences was in 1996. I flew out to Palm Springs for my First ESRI users conference. There were about 3 thousand people there. I talked to a lot of people. Goofed off. Went to technical sessions. Learned quite a bit and came back. I did two more of these in the 2000’s and to be honest I can’t remember much about them and I’ll blame that on a decade’s worth of living vs the conferences being terrible.  I’ve almost stopped going to state conferences. After 25 years I’ve almost seen it all on that level. Not that I’m some sort of “geo-genius” – to the contrary I’m not that smart. I just want different out of my conferences.

I started slowly getting involved in FOSS4G (Free and open source Software for Geospatial) back in 2013 and finally had my chance to attend an international conference – the one in Boston last week. So why even go? Randy you said you were tired of conferences. I am. I’m not tired of Community. That’s one of the things I’ve really been lacking. That’s the one thing I found in the QGIS crowd and the PostGIS crowd. Community – Plus I get to meet the people that build the software. Plus I get to carry on conversations with those people and come back and go “Oh boy – I got to meet……”

There were something like 1150+ people at this conference. 44 of the 50 States were represented. 48 countries were represented. They were able to pull in a massive pile of Sponsors. Who you ask…..IBM…..Carto….Mapzen…..Boundless……You know -  companies that work with open source software in some capacity. Even ESRI was there. What? Weird right? Trimble was there. Names you recognize from other places.

It’s the cool thing about this group of people – you can sit and talk to everyone. A one sentence Nutshell of what I did?

  • I had the chance to hassle Lene Fischer – and she hassled me back.
  • R? There were a lot of talks on R. I have go to pick up some R knowledge as that was mentioned a lot at this conference.
  • PostGIS? That’s my favorite thing these days. I sneaked up behind Regine Obe and hugged her.
  • I even had the chance to help a PHD Candidate work his way through a spatial problem. We just sort of randomly met at the conference. That actually happens a lot. You meet someone. Start a conversation. Then you start working on a problem.

Confession – I was on the Workshop Committee. I did do a workshop. Which – this sounds more impressive than it is – but I did get to teach at Harvard. Which sounds awesome and Harvard is a pretty cool place to see.

The kicker on this conference (and as I’m reading back this is getting way too long) that in order to pull it off you’ve go tot have a community of people willing to do it. Boston stepped up. They were able to land Richard Stallman to come and talk. Below – Michael Terner and Richard Stallman (I’ll let you pick who is who).

The ESRI Conference had a theme which was something along the lines of “The Science of Where” which I swore they’ve used before. If you tagged this one with a theme it should be “The Warmth of Community”. I’ll be babbling more on this conference over the next week. I’ve cleaned out my suitcase. I’ve been washing clothes – and I’ve been trying to get caught up.

My hats off to you Boston. I hope to come back at some point. Dar Es Salaam you have me wondering if I can make it over.




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