[srw — There are a collection of links to presentations, blogs, and photos at the end of this post. Please don't hesitate to forward other links as you find them (regardless of language), and I'll add them to the lists. Thanks. (Updated lists 7-Apr-2007, 16:36, and again 26-Apr-2007, 13:16)]
It started when a friend organized a meeting in her Beijing offices the last days of January with the conference hosts for the upcoming 2007 Software Innovation Summit. She had invited the appropriate people from both CoSoft (a government funded organization) and CIO Insight (a Ziff-Davis publication). After a long discussion in Chinese, she turned to me, "So here's the deal ...." If I could find a small amount of external sponsorship, they would allow me to organize the speaking agenda for the Open Source Software Forum part of the Summit — a one day affair.
Part of the reason I was even in Beijing was to determine what it would take to hold a proper open source software conference in China by the end of the year. In two trips to Beijing in three months I had seen a lot of interest, excitement and energy around open source software. This seemed a good opportunity to start to understand what it would actually take to organize such an event. I mean really — how hard could it be? Even if it was just eight weeks until 27 March.
There was all manner of fun along the way:
- Chinese New Year "appeared" in the middle of the planning cycle, cutting 10 days out of the time line. Everyone goes home for at least a week for the Spring Festival. Welcome to the Year of the Pig!
- Most companies can't sponsor anything with eight [short] weeks of notice.
- That said, I found two sponsors reasonably quickly, but needed one more to be able to actually afford the expenses for me to attend the event I was organizing. And I found the third! And I booked my tickets. And then that sponsor had to bail! There was a tense 24 hours while I found my second third sponsor. And this was all under two weeks before I needed to get on a plane.
- We were also going to have another Open Tuesday event the evening of 27 March. My co-conspirator (Mikko) was traveling to S. Africa and Spain on other Open Tuesday business for the last two weeks before Beijing, and proceeded to (a.) get really sick on the road, (b.) have his mobile phone stolen, (c.) discover how bad Internet connectivity can be from even good hotels in Johannesburg. That was one very long 12 days for both of us.
- In the last week, the day before one speaker was due to get on a plane, we discovered their business invitation letter to obtain their visa was not appropriate. That was another tense 24 hour scramble. (And this was one of the speakers I really really wanted to be there.)
- This was my third trip to Beijing in four months, and the first five star hotel where all the front desk staff were uncomfortable in English. So it was a fun challenge trying to get reservations sorted out, among other small problems.
- Monday morning, I head downstairs. I've basically planned on an entire day to sort out whatever needs to be done getting ready for the next day. My front desk inquiry about "tomorrow's conference" leads me to the catering office, where I was greeted with, "What conference?" And that was just the start of Monday. Much of Monday was spent tensely watching the organization unfold without the benefit of a common language to ask questions, and no prior conference organization experience to know what should happen next. (Prior experience on program committees does not a conference organizer make.) I really need to get a more relaxing hobby.
Despite a hectic eight weeks, the day came off without a hitch. It was brilliant! There were seats for about 100 people, but they brought in probably another 12-20 seats for the overflow. I had friends in the audience that said the translations were excellent, and the conference attendees all really enjoyed the talks. (It was much better than they anticipated.) The conference hosts (CoSoft and CIO Insight) were really pleased. My speakers all felt they learned a lot from this experience, including a couple of speakers that had already made trips to their own vendor events in Beijing.
I owe a lot to my friends here.
- My sponsors for trusting I could pull it off: Google (Chris Dibona), O'Reilly Radar (Nat Torkington), and the Linux Foundation (Jim Zemlin).
- My speakers for taking time out of their busy schedules to travel to Beijing and see first hand what I'm seeing around open source software in China: Nat Torkington (O'Reilly Radar), Christophe Bisciglia (Google), Mike Olson (Oracle), Jim Grisanzio (Sun), Taiwen Jiang (XOOPS China), Mikko Puhakka (Open Tuesday), Calvin Sun (MySQL). Most of them had to travel a long way to get there.
- My friends for their encouragement and support: Anne Stevenson-Yang for getting me involved and cheering me on, Ada Wang (Anne's analyst and my negotiator), Jethro Cramp (running additional air cover for me in Beijing and keeping me sane late at night over his early morning tea).
- Jing Jing Helles for all her translation work on speaker presentations. While we had full simultaneous translation in session, the presentations were something we still had to do ourselves. I wanted the Chinese attendees to have the information in Chinese to carry away.
- James Ding was the primary point of contact at CIO Insight. He made the logistics happen. It was a great day.
Here are all the presentations and current translations. I'm working at getting the audio up as well.
- Stephen Walli (Consultant)
Open Source Software Economics, IP, and Standards in 30 Minutes (PDF, 404KB)
开放源代码软件经济, 标准 与知识产权 30分钟 (PDF, 468KB)
- Nat Torkington (O'Reilly Radar, OSCON Program Chair)
Open Source Radar (PDF, 1MB)
- Christophe Bisciglia (Google, Sr. Software Engineer, Open Source Programs Office)
Google and Open Source, Beyond Software (PDF, 68KB)
* Christophe actually delivered more slides, but the images are NOT presently for sharing.
- Mike Olson (Oracle/Sleepycat, Vice-president, Embedded Technologies)
Building an Open Source Business (PDF, 284KB)
建立开源商业 (PDF, 340KB)
- Calvin Sun (MySQL, Development Manager of Storage Engines)
Product Development The MySQL Way (PDF, 1.2MB)
- Taiwen Jiang (XOOPS Community Leader, China)
A XOOPS Story: On Development of Free Software and Open Source Community in China (PDF, 344KB)
从XOOPS的发展看中国自由软件的开发与 开源社区的建设 (PDF, 332KB)
- Jim Grisanzio (Sun Microsystems, Community Manager, OpenSolaris Engineering
The OpenSolaris Story (PDF, 2.1MB)
OpenSolaris 介绍 (PDF, 3.4MB)
- Mikko Puhakka (Founder of Open Tuesday, MySQL Investor)
Open Tuesday (PDF, 136KB)
北京讲演 (PDF, 204KB)
Blog and news coverage:
- Jim Grisanzio's blog and Flickr stream
- Nat Torkington's blog commentary.
- Michael Iannini's blog coverage for ZDNet Asia. I understand what Michael saw as a Beijing insider, but the reverse is also true. We each made great inroads to furthering the discussions we each wanted to have.
- Jing Jing Helles Flickr stream.
- Amy Jiang's blog coverage with an interesting cultural observation.
Some official Chinese news coverage (in Chinese) based on the CoSoft news item (thanks to D.J.):
We get to "meet the press" at day's end. L-to-R: Mike Olson, Christophe Bisciglia, Jim Grisanzio, Nat Torkington, Mikko Puhakka. Taiwen Jiang and I are off camera.