FOSS.IN: The Calm before the Storm

You should read this first:

FOSS.IN: The Wind of Change

With that post, I made it clear where FOSS.IN is going – it will no longer be a conference that navel-gazes, and focuses only on itself, but will reach out to the technology world, and become the inclusive hacker event that I have wanted it to be since 1999.

While the focus on FOSS and contribution will never be lost, and while we will never have talks about optimizing Windows 7, I have never been in the FOSS community because I wanted to be a politician or messiah of free software. While I believe in all things community, I don’t want to see people excluding themselves, believing themselves to be something “different” and hence not part of the world in general.

My love for technology of all sorts is why I am in the FOSS community, because this is where I can get the widest exposure to technologies. And I want everyone to be able to share this experience. That is why I set up my BBS in 1989, and that is why I am expanding FOSS.IN to be a hacker conference where my community can reach out and interact with the real world, become part of it, and finally bury the stigma that the world has attached to us that we are some strange sort of aliens, not mainstream.

Over the past decade, I have had to deal with a lot of stuff I frankly could do without. I know that I am not a people manager, or a rockstar, or someone everyone likes. I have my priorities, too, my desires and my dreams. And for 10 years, I have had to lock them up in a closet while I fought an endless battle with people who didn’t understand what I was doing, who tried to tell me what to do, who wanted to tag along when the going was good, spit at me when it wasn’t, and hate me when I succeeded.

That’s OK, I don’t really care anymore. I have catered to people like you, who really just cared about being seen as something you aren’t (“leaders”) while not actually doing anything to help people enjoy what they do. I am sick and tired of the fanatics, who are really just poseurs who want people to follow them and their strange, unreal ideologies – often because they saw profit in doing so.

I have but one objective – I want to see more people interested in technology. Interested not because it gets them jobs, but being passionate about it, being creative, being artists with compilers and editors instead of paintbrushes. I want to see more people like that because that is the company I seek – in my personal life, and at work.

People who do not share this vision of mine are welcome to move on and find a soapbox to stand on to wave their flags. It’s a big world, plenty of room for everyone. Just don’t expect me to build you a soapbox, and lift you on it, gather you an audience and then have you prattle on.

If FOSS.IN succeeds in all these things, it will show. I want people to enjoy themselves, mingle, exchange information, understand and be understood – but at a technological level, NOT a political or religious level. Earlier, some people were undecided about what we were doing, and decided to stay away, but many of you came anyway – and had the time of your lives. This year, I expect to see many more of you come to the event, based on what you heard from others last year.

And I will not allow individuals, companies or organizations to decide for me what is good for me or the event. If I say “no low hanging fruit – reach higher, you can do better than this”, I mean it. If I say “no, you cannot use the event for your corporate/political agenda”, then I mean it. And if I say “be part of what I am doing, else feel free to move on” I mean that too – even if that makes me sound like George Bush.

I don’t want people to form exclusive “clubs” with secret passwords and rules that lock out everyone else. I will not be part of a process of exclusion, or segregation. FOSS.IN is for and about the FOSS community, but effective this year, it is also about reaching out, recognising the fact that FOSS is mainstream and that it is a methodology, NOT a religion.

I am Atul Chitnis. I stand for technology, for the joy of discovery, the creativity and the belonging.

I love FOSS because it is about all these things.

If you are an individual, a company or an organization that cares about the things that I do, then see you at FOSS.IN.