Two years ago, in 2010, we announced that FOSS.IN/2010 would be the last one. There were a lot of reasons for this, which have been documented here.
Since then, I have been searching all over India for an annual event that I could attend every year just like FOSS.IN, but with a bigger focus on technology.
And I came up with nothing.
The closest that I could come were HasGeek’s excellent workshops (and I can highly recommend them), but they were focused on single topics. Nothing wrong with that, but what I was looking for was a much wider spread – different technologies talking to each other, and of course people from all walks of life, willing to come together and share their knowledge and experiences. And after a while, it struck me:
I was looking for FOSS.IN.
Because that was what FOSS.IN was all about – part technical, part social. An event that allowed people from India and across the world to come together once a year, and put faces to names and IRC nicks, to meet people behind the technologies and hacks that made the world what it is today.
However, putting together such an event, which was almost child’s play for us for 10 years, appeared to be a much more difficult proposition for others. None of the much-vaunted “FOSS.IN killers” appeared after FOSS.IN ended.
Even worse, we found ourselves at the receiving end of accusations of having robbed the tech community of “their annual event”.
Now, in the second year after we ended FOSS.IN, I am honestly and seriously getting bored. I miss FOSS.IN like crazy – the year-long preparations, the anticipation by both the team and the audiences, the joy when it all came together every year, the delight as people met at the event, and the productivity gains as hackers and newbies got together and taught each other the tools of their trade, swapped tales from the trenches, and the friendships made or renewed.
FOSS.IN was something that had become so integral to my life, and that of many of the team members, that it felt like we were missing a limb not having the event.
To cut a long story short: we are bringing back FOSS.IN. November 29th to December 1st, 2012, at the NIMHANS Convention Centre in Bangalore.
The event will be similar to what it has been in the past – the talks, the WorkOuts, the expo, the entertainment, the parties, the fun and the joy of meeting people.
There will, however, be some changes. For one, the scope will be enlarged – while Free & Open Source Software will continue to be a large focus of the event, we are also encouraging general technology hacking (for the media folks – “hacking” is a good thing, it means extending something beyond its defined boundaries. It doesn’t mean breaking into networks or computers – that’s “cracking”).
This means that there will be scope for other, non-FOSS technologies (though not for non-FOSS products). So, for example, while developing a closed source app for iOS or Windows may not be suitable, developing FOSS apps for these OSs for these platforms would be OK. Similarly, while GSM may seem like something you wouldn’t find at such an event, developing FOSS applications and frameworks for GSM networks would be OK. As would be better ways to encrypt data, network security, etc.
In many ways, we are exploring a relatively new space here. FOSS is now very much mainstream, and one of its hallmarks has always been interoperability with other (even closed) technologies. And this event will recognise and encourage this. There will be no “us and them” at FOSS.IN.
And as we take the event forward and expand it, we hope to learn from the feedback we get from audiences after this year’s event.
We realise that the name “FOSS.IN” may eventually become unsuitable for this event. In fact this was one reason why we shut down the event series in 2010. But it makes sense to restart things with this name, to give people an idea of what to expect. As time goes by, we may come up with a new name, and rename the event to better reflect its nature – just as we did in 2005, when we renamed Linux Bangalore to FOSS.IN. As always, we are open to suggestions from day 1, though this year, the event WILL be named FOSS.IN.
Some other changes are going to be necessary to bring the event into sync with modern times. For example, we cannot subsidise the event with super low delegate fees as we did for years with the old FOSS.IN, when we used to charge Rs.500. Heavy subsidies mean greater dependence on sponsors, and sponsors (however well-meaning they may be) tend to try and turn the event into something we don’t want it to be. While we DO want (and need) sponsors, we would like the control of the event to be in the hands of our team and the audiences. That is why this year, the regular delegate fee will be Rs.2500 (for the whole event), Rs.1500 for bonafide students, and Rs.5000 for corporate delegates. There will be early bird discounts, of course, and we expect to open delegate registrations as early as July.
As always, all talks, workouts and workshops will come via proposals from the tech and hacker community. Sales and marketing talks will not be accepted. The Call for Participation will be published within a few days.
I know, I know. Some of the less charitable-minded folks out there will have all sorts of things to say about this development, but we now have a new rule in place in Team FOSS.IN: we are just going to ignore the naysaying and politicking that has ruined things for people in past. Constructive criticism and valid suggestions will always be given an ear, and if there is something that you can think of that can add to the event’s success (and not take away from it), please do let us know.
We will also be looking for new volunteers for Team FOSS.IN, to help us put together the event. While several (if not all) members of the old Team FOSS.IN will be returning to the fold, we would certainly welcome some fresh and enthusiastic new members!
As usual, the place to catch us is on Twitter (@fossdotin), on mailing list (the foss-in mailing list on groups.yahoo.com) and on Facebook.
The main place to find any information about the event, to register as a participant and to find out what’s going on is our website, at http://FOSS.IN. Right now, there is nothing there (we are restructuring old information, and adding new stuff), but watch out for announcements on the communication channels we mentioned.
We look forward to bringing back India’s best technology event, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and YES – a lot of fun! And we look forward to welcoming back all our old friends, speakers, delegates, contributors and supporters from the old FOSS.IN, to help us make this the best FOSS.IN – ever!
See you at FOSS.IN/2012!
p.s. And if you are into product development, then THIS may interest you as well – just two days later). PRODUCTISE.IN is cancelled.