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David A. Wheeler Reports Back from FISL 6.0 Conference in Brazil
Saturday, July 09 2005 @ 09:26 PM EDT

David A. Wheeler has posted the most interesting and enjoyable travelogue, all about his trip to Brazil to attend the 6th International Free Software Conference (FISL 6.0).

I noted several things that interested me, like his impression of Peter Quinn, CIO of the Commonwealth of Massachusett, who presented at the conference, his noting that there were more women in attendance ("Women Have Arrived" is one header) and why, Ted Tso's explanation of Linux file systems and why ext3 is so popular, and the reasons why Brazilians love FOSS. He explains it this way:

The point is that Brazilian government and industry view OSS/FS quite differently from most in the United States. For many Brazilians, OSS/FS was essentially an opportunity to regain nationa sovereignty or company control over their own infrastructure, instead of allowing an external company (and a foreign one at that) t maintain total control and visibility over their internal infrastructure. There also appeared to be significant concerns about transparency as reason why OSS/FS was so strongly preferred -- one speaker said something like “Governments need to know what happens in thei networks, so they need to audit their code, so it [must?] be public source.”

Several government ministries had large booths related to OSS/FS, along with the usual corporate, vendor, non-profit organizations, and project booths. There was a LinuxChix booth. The Debian guys had a "Goodbye Woody" party. Cute. But what stood out to me most was this:

I believe there’s a strong similarity in many ways in how lawyers and softwar developers think; both fields work to gain precision in language, and require thinking through consequence in a logical fashion. James Grimmelmann has a series of articles that illustrates some of the similaritie between legal thinking and how a software developer would think (it’s called “Law School in a Nutshell” - see Part I, Part II, and Part III).

Other things may strike you as more interesting, but I'm sure you will not be bored. Wheeler is never boring, and he misses no details it seems. His talk was on "Why OSS/FS? Look at the Numbers!" and you can read a written version here. I really enjoyed his travelogue and wanted to share it with you right away. In fact, I haven't even finished reading it yet, so if he ends the account with an ad for Microsoft or SCO or something, I'm not responsible.

It's a joke. He wouldn't.




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