Regional Events Rock

by Jon maddog Hall

October 13th is the first-ever Ontario Linux Fest. John Van Ostrand and Richard Weait, both long-time FOSS advocates, have gathered a great organizational team, and are modeling this after the long-running Ohio Linux Fest of last month.

I attended the Ohio Linux Fest which was a great one-day event, attracting well over 1000 people. Each conference tries something new, and I am sure that the organizers in Toronto will have some new activities to be enjoyed.

Putting on an event in one-day (well, counting pre-event parties and post-event parties, more like two days) can only be compared to a three-ring circus, but there is no room for clowns! Everything comes off right on schedule, and with a professionalism that is just amazing.

Regional events allow customers to more easily see and talk with local vendors as well as the more local representatives of the national firms. The more local attendance allows the audience to get "up close and personal" with the speakers, and the age restrictions that exist at a lot of larger events are non-existent at these regional events. I met a lot of Free Software users who were still in strollers. :-)

Putting on these events is a lot of work, probably more work than the organizers originally realize, and as the events become more well-known and larger, the work increases exponentially. The amount of work is only tapered by the expertise in organization accumulated each year the event is held. It is a good feeling when people write to the organizing committee after the event and tell them how much they enjoyed the event and how much they learned from it.

It is also interesting to see how the organizers of these events often share their expertise and knowledge with others who are attempting to organize events. The Ohio Linux Fest people are talking with SCALE (from southern California) and other events to form a distributed event for cross-promotion and vendor organization. Very much the free software style of organization and information sharing.

People often ask me how they can contribute to Free Software when they do not know how to code. Organizing a one or two-day Free Software regional or local event is one way of giving back to the community, and making a lot of new friends and business collegues while you are doing it.

Already the Ohio Linux Fest people are planning for next year's event, and I am sure that the Toronto event next Saturday, October 13th, will also be a great time. Perhaps I will see you there.


P.S. I am sure that people will tell me that professional clowns are an important part of the circus, and I understand that. I realize the value of professional clowns, and even amateur clowns who act professionally.

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