Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Keynote Speeches

For those of us managing to get up in time, which looking round the (huge) main theatre is just about everyone, this is the first morning of the conference proper rather than the for-pay tutorials of the first two days. To start the day Tim O'Reilly is giving the keynote speech, discussing how open source software is changing the software industry.

Nat Torkington in his traditional bright shirt

Tim O'Reilly giving his keynote speech

Tim is putting forward the proposition that the internet itself, rather than the desktop, is the platform people should be developing software for and that the killer apps of the next few years are things like Google and Amazon. He's saying that these "applications" combine user added-value and commodity software. Even if you had the software behing Amazon, you wouldn't have their added value, the user contributions to their database. He's drawing a comparison with MapQuest, which could have done the same, has become commodity itself, and the people making the real money are NAVQUEST which own the data behind MapQuest (and it's imitators). If MapQuest had, at the start, built a participatory layer around their commodity data it could have locked people in to their service in a similar manner to Amazon.

The second, and final, keynote of the day was Robert Leftkowitz talking about the Semasiology of Open Source and how the big companies may be using open source but that they don't really understand the implications (or perhaps we don't understand it?). It seems that the denotations of the words "open source" mean very different things to big corporate IT and the open source community itself. This can cause wierd and wonderful problems and misunderstandings.