Open Source Festival

I was thrilled to go to the Open Source festival because it helped me understand the power of open source technology applied at an academic level. I attended the 4:15-5:30 program entitled, Connecting Academia and Industry: With Open Source Practices. The format of the program was very casual and enabled the audience to get involved as well. The set up included a panel of five members each from different types of organizations. Some were from government agencies working in Veterans Affairs, and others were from private companies. The reason I enjoyed the program was because the panel was made up of a diverse group. This allowed me to understand how each sector perceives open source data. One of the main talking points that stuck out to me the most was the idea that a coding project could be given to a class for a semester long assignment. This would be a great way to connect the open source community to a university’s student body. By raising awareness people will quickly realize the power of open source technologies.

The main part of the discussion was about the misconceptions many people have about open source platforms. CEOs for large organizations are focused on revenue, but this is a shortsighted vision because if the tip of the iceberg is given away for free, than services, maintenance and content can be charged later. After mustering up the courage, I finally asked a question, “how can you bring up open source to a board meeting without being thrown out?”. The responses I received were straight to the point and comprehensive. My favorite answer was from a man who owned a private tech company in the capital region. He took out his Android phone and said show the board members this. The success of the Android platform is an easy way to set up a point of reference for the superior. Another man gave me an enlightening look back into an older company, Gillette. He said that one day an employee suggested that they market the razor body for almost nothing, while the blades themselves would be very expensive. This model shows that revenue can be generated from ongoing costs, if users are initially given a sweet deal. I have learned a lot from the showcase and truly enjoyed my experience.

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