I’m really looking forward to this year’s OSCON because I think we finally nailed a few things that were troublesome in the past:
(1) We have a Java track that holds its own beside the other language tracks. Because my origins are in dynamic languages I didn’t have the depth of contacts in the Java world that I did in Perl, Python, etc. We brought in the big guns this year (Geir Magnusson, Craig Russell) and they pushed good speakers and subjects within the program committee. Looking at it, I think we’ve succeeded in pulling together talks that not only have immediate practical knowledge but they also teach you new ways of thinking about problems. By that I mean there’s not just topics like Spring and Tapestry, but also an intriguing offering from Peter von der Ahé and a session on debugging real world memory leaks that should make you think twice about how you program as well as debug.
(2) A Linux track that has weight. I’ve slowly drifted from the systems world to the web world in the last decade, and OSCON’s content came with me. This year we have Kristen C. Accardi and Kathy Robertson on the program committee and they worked hard to bring in people like Arjan van de Ven on low power programming, Sarah Bailey on USB coding, and the brilliant Dave Jones pulling apart sucky userland code.
(3) Parallel programming topics to make you think. I’ve argued before that I think we all need to be watching this area, and I asked the program committee to find particularly good talks on clustering, parallel programming techniques, and what we can learn from functional languages. I have the brilliant Simon Peyton Jones on Haskell’s nested data parallelism, some experimental work on automatic parallelization with GCC, even exploiting multicore capabilities from Python.
(4) A whole track devoted to sessions that think about and encourage focus on the user. We’ve traditionally been a code-focused event, as the open source world was code-focused. We’re retaining the code but we’re pulling back a bit to show the context in which the code lives: community, design, and accessibility are all covered in the People track. Look for Jono Bacon on how the Ubuntu community works, Amy Hoy on simple practical ways to focus your efforts on users, Adam Keys with some People Hacks, Dawn Foster and Danese Cooper on Art of Community, and more.
I’m excited by the good stuff we’ve crammed in–and there’s still plenty of Ruby, Python, Database, Perl, and so on goodness. We still have a few spaces and I am actively cramming more in. Look for a new open source database tool with its eyes on FileMaker, a session on some interesting not-yet-released technology from A Large Internet Company, and an open source 3d printer that’ll blow your mind. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some plane tickets to Portland …
PS: the registration folks tell me that the early registration period ends June 4 and prices will go up then. Early bird gets the discounted OSCON worm!