Signals from OSCON 2015

From Pluto flybys to open source in the enterprise to engineering the future, here are key highlights from OSCON 2015.

Experts and advocates from across the open source world assembled in Portland, Ore., this week for OSCON 2015. Below you’ll find a handful of keynotes and interviews from the event that we found particularly notable.

Cracking open the IoT

In an interview at OSCON, Alasdair Allan, director at Babilim Light Industries, talked about the data coming out of the New Horizons Pluto flyby, the future of “personal space programs,” and the significance of Bluetooth LE to the Internet of Things:

Now that all the smartphones have Bluetooth LE — or at least the modern ones, there is a very easy way to produce low-power devices (wearables, embedded sensors) that anyone can access with a smartphone. … It’s a real lever to drive the Internet of Things forward, and you’re seeing a lot of the progress in the Internet of Things, a lot of the innovation, is happening — especially in Kickstarter — around BLE devices.

Open source is good for the company

James Pearce, head of open source at Facebook, discussed the how/why/what of Facebook’s embrace of open source. As to they “why,” he outlined three reasons:

  • Open source accelerates innovation: “By sharing our code and our stack, and in some cases even our hardware designs, we think that other companies and individuals are just able to move faster. And far from this being a competitive threat, we actually find that the value of this accrues back to us.”
  • We write better software: “At a deeper, more architectural level, if we know that a project is going to be open source from the start, we just build it better.”
  • We share our challenges: “These are challenges of speed, challenges of complexity, and challenges of scale. It also attracts the interest of people who might want to come and work on some of those problems. We know that this recruiting angle works: 3/4 of our new engineers say that our open source program positively affected their decision to join the company.”

The future is arriving quickly

Paul Fenwick, managing director of Perl Training Australia, talked about designing and engineering for the future-future:

“I want you to think about the technologies and things you might be working on as if we were 10,000 years in the future. The reason is that I want you to think about how your technology might be used for good, how it might not be used for good, and the reasons for each of those — are there reasons why your technology may not be able to achieve the best it can for humanity? … 10,000 years is a lot of time to change the world, and we need these long-term plans. I can assure you that the future will be awesome, but only if we engineer it to be so.”

Keep good architecture

Martin Fowler, chief scientist at ThoughtWorks, talked about the importance of software architecture, what it means and why we should care about it:

It’s particularly relevant now as we push more and more toward continuous delivery, continuous deployment, features updated over the Internet all the time. That degree of being able to respond to change becomes important. That’s the economic reason why software architecture is important, because if we don’t keep good architecture, we are, in the end, deceiving our customers — in fact, stealing from our customers — because we’re slowing down their ability to compete.

You can see more keynotes and interviews in our OSCON 2015 playlist.

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