Open Web Vancouver opens with a Pirate Party and a look at Women in Open Source

I must confess, I wasn’t expecting much from the Open Web Vancouver conference. I read the schedule, and perhaps the strong emphasis on Drupal turned me off, but I didn’t find myself salivating like I do when I go to An Event Apart‘s website. And as the saying goes, you pay for what you get; so how good can a $150 conference be? Today’s conference proved me wrong.

This morning’s session was opened by two keynote speakers and left me inspired and eager to learn more about the Open Source community.

The first keynote was given by Rick Falkvinge on one of Sweden’s political party, the Pirate Party, whose platform is to reform laws regarding copyrights and patents and other civil liberties issues. The Pirate Party succeeded in gaining popularity and attention simply by using the Internet and very little money. In fact their campaign budget during the last election consisted of only $50K. As a result of the communication tools and methods they’ve used, they are now the political party with the largest percentage of voters 30 years old and younger. This of course as alarmed other politicians who have never been able to reach out to this age group.

Now that the Pirate Party has secured a seat in the European Parliament, it will be interesting to see if other political parties start discussing issues such as privacy and file sharing. Just like Al Gore has put Global Warming on everyone’s mind, Rick Falvinge is spreading the word about what needs to be done to create a better online world for all of us and he deserved the standing ovation which followed his presentation.

Following this great keynote, came Angie Byron who spoke about Women in Open Source or rather lack of. I was a bit surprised that this topic was chosen and discussed. I’ve been working as a so called “geek” for a over a decade and never experienced any sexism at work or conference and Angie admitted herself that until she started researching the numbers, didn’t think there was a problem either. Turns out the percentage of women in Open Source is staggeringly low. The reasons and solutions that were discussed were obvious and applicable to all minorities, not just women. At least they felt obvious to me, but a few hours later, I read about the incident at Flashbelt‘s conference just a few days ago. It seems like a lot of boys think that the saying boys will be boys still stands and should simply be accepted.

Angie provided great advice on how to create a safe and inviting community and how to stop tolerating bullshit. The gem, for me, were her views on contribution to Open Source. Having worked with Open Source during all of my coding years, I’ve realised that I’ve used the stuff, but never really contributed. Providing contribution whether it be marketing, documenting, designing and of course coding, is a great way to empower yourself and feel like you are part of the team.

I look forward to learn more during tomorrow’s event.

Bluelime Media in 2009

I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolution. Personally I don’t see the point. Every year I notice the same thing at my yoga studio. The classes are just packed with people for the first two – three weeks and then it’s back to normal class size. I’m sure that gyms have seen an increase in attendance in these past few weeks and slim fast an increase in sales.

Although I never make resolutions, over the holidays, I do think about the year and how I can improve things at Bluelime Media and every year, I do the same thing. I think about it and then do nothing…. So this year I thought I would put it up in writing and make myself accountable.

Keeping it small

When I first started web design, I normally thought that I would create a company, get office space, hire a few employees and increase to a half dozen people over the years. At least that’s what BNI and business coaches were envisioning for me. I realise now that that dream isn’t mine. I have no desire to grow and manage staff. I enjoying working by myself and like Dave Shae, happy to be the little guy. So I’ve removed my careers page and updated my about section to reflect this new direction. At least in writing it’s a new direction.. it’s always been like that in my heart.

Embracing WordPress

For the past 2 years, I’ve been building more and more WordPress sites and have come to the conclusion that it’s the best solution for me and for my clients. I’ve updated my home page to reflect this change and in the next week or so I’ll be updating the service section to inform potential clients, that this is what I offer. Not to worry though, I know people who can use Drupal, Joomla and flash, so if that’s your flavour, I will gladly refer you.

Work Less

This is the reason I never make resolutions… Ever year, I look back and think that I’ve worked much too hard… but when you decide to work on your own and refuse to delegate or resist offers of helps… then you end up with a lot of work. So I only have myself to blame. In the past, I’ve taken weeks off here and there and enjoyed the breaks where phone and Internet access is limited. This has worked very well for me in the past and I will keep doing this, starting this month. At the end of January, I’m heading out to India for a yoga trip with Christina Sell and Genevieve Gilbreath. I’ll take lots of pictures while I’m there, but won’t be putting them online until I get back. Doing so, would require finding an Internet cafe which could lead to peaking in my inbox.

Happy New Year to all of you and best of luck with your goals for 2009.

Web Directions North is a Wrap

There are many reasons why one should attend conferences. It’s a great way to meet new people, share ideas, learn from your peers and see what everyone else is doing. But more importantly, for me, the main reason is to convince myself that I’m not alone. Others have had the exact same problem and may have a solution that they can share. This year’s Web Direction North conference did just that.

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