I attended Open Everything in Madison, Wisconsin on April 18th, 2009… Here are my thoughts on the event.
Oh, first of all, if you are coming to my house, do not turn on Wood Drive, keep going another 1/2 mile and turn on Wood Street. This is very important! That said, Todd and Marie managed to get to my house, as did Gabe, and we ventured forth to Madison for the event. (KeVroN bailed on us for some unknown reason…)
Even though KeVroN the Madison expert bailed on us, we managed to find the venue fairly easily, and since it’s Madison, we had the choice of parking really far away for cheap, or paying to park at the venue. Since we had video equipment to lug, we choose to pay. Well, I choose to pay. I know I’m a whiner, but I really do like free parking.
So we got there pretty much right at 10AM while things were still in the “setting up” phase and we didn’t really miss anything. Once we got started we did the “go around the room and introduce yourself” thing. I already knew a lot of people from things like BarCamp, etc. but it was nice to see some new folks as well. There were maybe 25-30 people there, which I was a little disappointed in. I was really hoping to see more, but hey, what can you do? Not everyone is passionate about open.
Once we did the intros, we started putting session ideas on the grid. I put one up titled “Apple, OS X, Open?” and that was the first session of the day I attended.
It ended up being a discussion of Apple, how open (or closed) they are in their hardware, software, practices, and what it all means. Does the user experience suffer, or is it improved by Apple’s practices? What about Linux, or Microsoft/Windows? There are always free software folks, and fans of open who use Apple hardware and software, and I wanted to find out why. The answers I heard seemed to be “ease of use” and “it just works” which again, I lump into the “user experience” category.
For the next session Gabe and I set up to do a few video interviews with people. We ended up not getting to talk to many people, since we wanted to do sessions, as well as do interviews. It’s hard to do both in a 7 hour event.
When it was lunch time we ended up walking to State Street to get lunch, and tried to turn it into a PhotoWalk. I really wish food had been provided at the event. I know, I’m just a cheapskate who loves free food. But really, I would have pitched in the money if food could have been delivered as well. For the *Camp like events I’ve been involved with, we always try to provide a meal for participants. The reason for this is that it takes the burden off of people to figure out what the heck they are going to eat, and with who, and where… Keep people at the event, focused on what the topic is, not having to run around town finding food. I don’t want it to sound like I’m blaming anyone, as we didn’t have sponsors for the event, and the organizers and participants did provide a bunch of snacks and such, but lunch was a distraction from the event. Of course many venues have a “catering rule” which says if you want food at your event, you have to go through them, and with no money, that was not an option. The PhotoWalk part of it did not work well as we had to walk non-stop to State Street, stand in line at a busy Chipotle, get our food, and head back quickly. PhotoWalks need time to stop and shoot. (Lesson learned on that one!) So, just to summarize, lunch was just a minor hiccup, nothing that was detrimental to the event, but hey, it all worked out.
We ended up watching part of Rip: A Remix Manifesto while we ate lunch, which was really interesting. I really need to watch the whole thing because it brought up issues that sparked a lot of debate, and while I’m a fan of open, I’m also a really big fan of respecting the rights of artists. I come from the creative arts world, and have been a creator of art, music, photography, film, etc… and how people use things I’ve created is of concern to me. This is an issue I will definitely follow up on…
After lunch we did a session Blake proposed on the democratization of media, which started with the story of CNN, Ashton Kutcher, and Oprah, and their use of Twitter, and since Gabe and I were involved, turned slightly towards the “Twitter hates you” discussion, your rights, context, and other related issues. Good times…
The CMS Smackdown ended up being a tour of various sites/CMS’s and a lot of questions and opinions. Nothing groundbreaking, but it felt like everyone walked away learning something new, which is always cool…
Sadly, Gabe and I were late for the “Creative Commons: You’re Doing it Wrong” session (scheduling times got screwed up due to lunch) so we tried desperately to steer the conversation to Creative Commons, though it focused mainly on photography, and since we both have experience in the publishing world (the old paper version) we shared a bit, and tried to answer some questions. I also told the story of my Creative Commons license being violated, and what I did about it… I honestly could have seen a Creative Commons session like this go on for two hours…
Wrap up! That was it… we did some closing business, and then we packed it all up and headed out. The locals went out to dinner (I think) but we had Milwaukee waiting for us to return, so we did.
I’m not sure how much interest there would be in doing an Open Everything event in Milwaukee. I’m really surprised there were not more people in Madison for this… But hey, keep an eye open, and maybe an Open Everything event will happen near you.
(Oh, I really should have mentioned Doug Whitfield and Alnisa Allgood, who were instrumental in making this event happen. Thanks to both of them, and everyone else who made it happen.)