|open expo trip report
||[Sep. 27th, 2008|12:02 am]
I spent two days this week at OpenExpo in Winterthur, Switzerland. Several Fedora Ambassadors were at the event with me: Fabian Affolter, Timea Rusz, Andreas Rau, Gerold Kassube, Joerg Simon, and Sandro Mathys (though he was there as a representative of his own company).
Joerg has already posted a few pictures of our booth. The setup was very easy -- Fabian brought all the banners with him, Gerold brought the OLPCs, and I brought the shirts and CDs. The real credit for the good looking booth goes to Timea. Her female sense of detail prevented us from hanging up our signs in a crooked fashion, and from having our backpacks cluttering the area near our table. Timea was the only Fedora Ambassador at Open Expo whom I had not met previously, and it was great to meet her.
One of Joerg's special qualities is his ability to make connections with potential Fedora contributors, and bring them into the project. Earlier this year, he suggested that Thibault North join the Fedora Project, and within the span of one month, Thibault was a contributor to Fedora Electronics Lab and giving a speech at LinuxTag in Berlin. This week, Joerg told me that his next target is Hungary. He knows a few people there, and he thinks he can create a small group of Fedora contributors in Budapest, which will then have the ability to self-organize and expand.
The fair itself was your standard mix of corporate and community booths. Jan Wildeboer and Andrea Schneider from Red Hat Munich were there, and we had a few combined Red Hat/Fedora dinners in the evenings. I think that overall, we were all disappointed with the amount of traffic -- the organizers claimed that 1,500 people showed up over 2 days, but it certainly felt like less than that. However, for me the value of the event is maintaining personal connections with our EMEA Ambassadors, as well as with Andrea and Jan (who it is always a joy to spend time with).
We had OLPCs running at both the Red Hat and Fedora booth, and as always they were a tremendous draw. The Fedora booth also had stickers, shirts, CDs, flyers, and the original blue "FUDCon" bracelets that were made years ago, but never seem to run out. Those bracelets have achieved a legendary status in my mind. Every time I go to an event, I say to myself "there is no way that we still have some of those bracelets" but they are always there! It's incredible. I think it is now a requirement that we continue to re-produce those bracelets for all time. Does anyone remember who actually ordered them? Probably Alex Maier. She must have gotten a special deal if she ordered in quantities of 10,000 or more.
Microsoft had a booth, where they were basically talking about their partnership with Novell.
At the Ingres booth, they had a computer screen showing on a projector. It was running Fedora, VMWare, and Alfresco. Always nice to see people using Fedora as the basis for whatever work they do.
I split my time between the Fedora booth and the Red Hat booth, and answered a lot of "how is Fedora different than RHEL?" questions, which suggests to me that maybe we need to have a very simple, basic marketing campaign that is always running alongside whatever more technical and release-specific marketing we do.
I gave the "Community Architecture for Fun and Profit" talk for probably the final time, and I also attended a talk by the PHP release manager, and Jan Wildeboer's talk about Open Standards.
Jan and I are speaking at separate events in October and November, but conveniently our speeches are supposed to share a few common threads, so we compared notes a little bit (I think it was more useful for me than it was for him), but this was a *very* valuable use of my time, since I believe it will lead to a stronger speech from me in October.
Finally, on Thursday night at dinner, Gerold and Andreas and I discussed a few to-dos that will allow us to investigate the possibility of a FUDCon next year at the University of Basel, in which our space can be had for free. However, nothing has been decided and this is purely a fact-finding mission.
That's about all from my two days in Switzerland, which is a beautiful country. I will be back in November for Fedora Ambassador Day, and I will try to stay for an extra day or two then and see some sights.