Just last week, we heard that Alan Kay, one of the earliest pioneers of computing, let us know that his doctor had forbid him to travel on account of the recent SARS outbreak. We discussed this at lengh during a GNOME Foundation Board meeting, and decided that it would be best to try and find a keynote speaker to be there in person, but also allowing Alan to give a live video uplink from California. Robin Rowe, of Cinepaint [which was once film gimp] agreed to give such a keynote.
I was put in the unenviable position of having to make space in the schedule, resulting in 4 talks being cut. It was not an easy decision, but it never is. A lot of people seem to forget how these conferences get organized. Not only do they rely on many volunteer members, they also rely most heavily on sponsorship. In this current climate, obtaining sponsorship is next to impossible. Believe me, I've tried.
GUADEC can not possibly survive as a conference dedicated only to the developers - GNOME has got too big, too important. A lot of people get upset when talks appear on the schedule from companies who have primarily dealt with proprietary software. But sometimes don't you think it is exciting that they are interested in a relatively small conference like GUADEC. Don't you think that it is exciting that a company like Real Networks have given us licenses to be able to stream some of the talks at GU4DEC?
Linux@work is a new experimental day attached on to GUADEC this year, providing an opportunity for government officials, businesses, hackers and press to talk about open source software. I understand that I could never understand open source compared to someone who has found open source in their own time, yet I feel this is something that we are all searching for. A chance for people to use our software - to acknowledge that open source *can* and *does* work. I talked to one of our managers today about how open source works in a company like Sun - everything in her brain said 'Open Source *can't* work, it just *can't*' - but more and more, everyday, she is slowly seeing that it can.
That message is particuarly powerful for me.