There was an O’Reilly stand (well, table) at OpenTech, which had a dazzling array of O’Reilly books. O’Reilly books nearly all have a distinctive, but as of yet has not become boring, style of animal engravings on the front (sometimes with puns – Python books have pythons, shell scripting books have tortoises, etc.). Which got me thinking… what if O’Reilly runs out of animals? Alright, there are a lot of species out there, but there’s also a lot of O’Reilly books. I envisaged a nightmarish future where O’Reilly goes evil, enters the genetic engineering industry and starts churning out transgenic species – half-dolphin, half-cougar, something like that, just for the purposes of making new cover art. Anyway, I took advantage of the local discount and bought Mind Hacks – the title is a slight misnomer IMHO but it’s still a really interesting book.
Alright, some seriousness. In the midst of my last post I omitted some other interesting people; Rufus Pollock and Tom Chance of Free Culture UK and Remix Reading, both of whom talked of the importance of grassroots open culture, getting actual artists and creatives to jump in and start producing and using CC-licensed stuff (which is good, and a damn sight better than last year’s music remix speakers, who didn’t really care for Creative Commons). I agree with them, and think very much the “get people to take part first, and then introduce all the intricacies, legal issues and differences between users as part of the practical learning curve” approach advocated works best – getting people working with them hands-on is the way forward.
I also missed out some stuff we saw from the Backstage BBC developers – social tagging of BBC News stories is just the beginning in this area, I think. There was also Social Documents, a collaborative text-annotation project which could be really cool for schools and universities to work on
Some good blog posts on the day’s events: Ewan Spence, the guy behind the iPod shuffle shuffle tells all, Vagueware provides a good summary of the day’s events too, as does Chris Green and Neil Turner. Tom Reynolds recounts his moment on stage, while there is the odd dissenting voice about the whole thing.
Davblog also talks about it, before entertaining the scary notion of a Greasemonkey arms race did slightly worry me – although the author corrects himself slightly in saying pages won’t be entirely unreadable if websites obfuscate their code, Greasemonkey’s job of parsing the tree is certainly easier in well-marked up HTML (e.g. using <h2> rather than <b><font size=”+2″>), and although it won’t stop scripts being made, it might set back the semantic web cause somewhat. But the entire point is that this kind of thing should be embraced by the mainstream, and so we should attempt to co-opt the content producers and start telling them that this is a good thing (the customer is always right, right?) until (eventually) they start to listen (hopefully).
Big thing I really missed, as I didn’t attend the relevant seminar, was Danny O’Brien’s discussion of whether we need a British version of the EFF. And the result? A nice shiny pledge to donate ?5 a month to a British EFF. Go on, sign it. Danny talks more about it in detail here.
And finally – Technorati’s list of posts about Opentech and an enormous set of Flickr photos tagged accordingly. And most fun of all, the audio streams of the day are also up, so if you couldn’t make it all, or regret missing some bits (like I did), you can catch up.