OSCON 2015 - A Tale of Two Tags

OSCON 2015 is over, rest in peace Portland OSCON, long live Austin OSCON.

So this post is my poor attempt at explaining what it was like at OSCON this year for me. For a start, I really like OSCON, pretty much everything about it from the crowds, fellow speakers, the organisers, and even the food and venue is brilliant, so with that in mind let's dump OSCON from my mind into this blog.

Farewell Portland, Hello Austin

Now unless you were at OSCON you might not have noticed that OSCON is moving from Portland (easily my favourite city in the US) to Austin, which I have never visited. Now the general response I got from the crowd was somewhere along the lines of "how horrible" which seems a little weird to me. The general reasoning seemed to boil down to "remember how terrible it was last time OSCON moved?", "Texas is so far away", and "I hate Texas."

All of these seem pretty weak excuses to me, from everything I've heard, when OSCON was in San Jose it was properly terrible, but this does not mean that OSCON has to be in Portland to be good.

The distance argument is really frustrating, I had to travel for ~30 hours (including all time in the airports) to get to OSCON, someone from the Bay Area complaining about 3+ hour travel is pretty hollow and even a little insulting, harden up and sit in a plane, the rest of the world does, time for you to do so.

The hatred of Texas isn't one I can answer, my knowledge of Texas comes from the TV and the few people I know who have visited it, now they have said the state isn't as nice as Oregon and that Austin isn't as nice as Portland. I have no reason to doubt their views, but at the same time they have also said that Austin is a really nice place - so I will reserve judgement until/if I get to go to OSCON next year.

Either way, OSCON is different every year and next year it will be different again and like almost anything that happens at OSCON, r0ml says it better than I ever could:

Every year I hear "#OSCON has changed, I should stop coming."  Every year I realize *I* have changed -- l still love OSCON. - r0ml

Excellent talks, Brilliant Speakers

As with any conference the entire point of attending is for the social interactions and the talks (well that and the expo, but that is a very different kettle of fish), and this year the talks I saw (when I wasn't busy freaking out working on my own slides) were amazing!

If you make time (and I highly suggest you do), you should check out:

As well as the talks I gave/co-presented:

Now probably the primary reason I go to conferences is for the interaction with the other attendees, and this year at OSCON the conversations were brilliant. Seriously you should come to OSCON just to speak to other people there, it is chock full of stupidly clever people!

OSCON vs Gamergate

Ah gamergate... so if you weren't at OSCON you probably didn't even hear but Gamergate got into into their head that OSCON were incorrect for accepting Randi Harper's talk offer. This section isn't going to be a discussion of Gamergate (henceforth referred to as Gobblegoat, because a Gamergate is a type of ant), ggautoblocker, or even free speech, this is a discussion of techniques.

So I don't really know how it all got started, but at some point during the conference Gobblegoat started flooding the oscon hashtag on twitter and mention spamming the twitter account and the  private twitter account of the person who runs it, Josh Simmons.

Now I don't know why it was decided that flooding a twitter hashtag and accounts was the correct way to make O'Reilly and OSCON change their minds about Randi Harper. The correct way is to buy a ticket and talk to the organisers and community there in person.

Now I know a ticket to OSCON is expensive, but there were numerous opportunities to get a free expo ticket which would have given you direct access to everyone who runs OSCON, including Tim O'Reilly and the conference chairs, and all the speakers (who don't really have much power) and attendees. A single person at the conference would have wielded infinitely more influence than every single tweet could have.

But even then, I understand not wanting to attend, but here is the problem, if Gobblegoat doesn't want to attend, then they are not part of the OSCON community and as such their words have no power, as someone at the conference, people were more confused and angry about the flooding. Because of the tweets people went and saw the talk by Randi Harper, people went and installed the blocking tool because they weren't blocking anyone in the community, they were blocking randoms.

People installed the tool and suddenly the noise flooding the conference was gone, how can you expect anything else? Oh as to the OSCON wifi filtering, I was in the speaker lounge when that was discovered and the OSCON staff were as confused as we all were, no one knew the wifi was being filtered.

So, ignoring the general ineffective nature of the spamming to the conference on the whole, the greatest reason the Gobblegoat spamming annoys me is because it was targeted to the wrong person. Josh Simmons did nothing that he wasn't asked to do, people asked for the blocker to be installed so people at the conference could more easily talk to the OSCON twitter account. Josh was just doing his job, and because of it he was attacked.

For everything we do, there is an internal discussion of "do my actions justify my goals" and in the case of targeting Josh, Gobblegoat either misunderstood, or misjudged the actions. As such all they did was harass someone doing his job and annoy a bunch of people at a conference who will now never join the Gobblegoat cause.

The End!

Ah, breathe out, right much more of a larger blog than I intended but it was fun writing it down. OSCON was a tonne of fun (metric not imperial) and I strongly recommend you come to OSCON Europe if you can, or Austin for OSCON 2016.

See you then, Tim.