Monday, July 28, 2008

OSCON 2008: Wrap Up

So I've returned from Portland after all of the OSCON activities. The conference was good, but I definitely didn't feel like it was a good as in years past. The keynotes were OK, but there weren't any that were spectacular. I hit a few sessions that were bombs, but I didn't get to one that rocked. Many were good, but nothing off the charts.

Hadoop was big on Thursday. Derek Gottfrid of the New York Times talked about how they used Hadoop and Amazon EC2 to process tons of data. Derek's presentation style is great, which mate the talk entertaining. Some folks from Yahoo were also getting into the nitty gritty details of how the whole thing works too.

The MySQL Proxy talk was good. It seems like a pretty handy tool for performance tuning and all sorts of SQL trickery.

The last talk that stood out to me was Selectricity. The project is a both a site to run elections as well as the software you can use to run elections where ever you want. One point that Benjamin Mako Hill made that I thought was interesting is that most election research goes into government elections... and these are the least likely to change. By building a tool to allow folks to conduct elections for simple things (what movie to see, who will lead the coffee club, etc.) using methods different from plurality, it's a good way to sneak in alternative voting methods to the masses. That way if people get familar with Condercet when voting for the next American Idol, they may be more likely to push for election reform in government elections.

I'm not sure if I'll hit OSCON again next year. I like going because it's nice to get an overview of a lot of different techologies, as opposed to something like Rails Conf. But things did feel pretty shallow this year.

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