|FROM ||Ruben I Safir
|SUBJECT ||Re: [hangout] Newsforge article
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Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 12:47:13 -0500
From: Ruben I Safir
To: Dave Williams
Cc: hangout-at-nylxs.com, fairuse-at-nylxs.com
Subject: Re: [hangout] Newsforge article
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In-Reply-To: <1048520186.28232.14.camel-at-connie>; from jdave23-at-informationwave.net on Mon, Mar 24, 2003 at 10:36:26 -0500
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Let's burn up their reply section on this
On 2003.03.24 10:36 Dave Williams wrote:
> "Open Source in Government Conference Wrapup"
> - By Robin 'Roblimo' Miller -
> The Open Standards/Open Source for National and Local eGovernment
> Programs in the U.S. and EU conference held in Washington DC March 17 -
> 19 was attended by nearly 500 people, not counting speakers. Microsoft
> representatives made a presentation about their Shared Source program,
> and that drew a handful of protesters, but both Microsoft and the
> protestors were minor sideshows that had little to do with the "meat" of
> the conference.
> Microsoft's people were questioned harshly by the audience, and answered
> with PR-style sidesteps, maintaining over and over that only a tiny
> percentage of users ever want to look at a program's source code, and
> that an even tinier percentage would ever need or want to change it.
> The only truly amusing moment came when a Microsoft person talked about
> how Microsoft Word adhered to open standards by giving users the option
> of saving in many standard formats, including HTML.
> Apparently this Microsoft person has never looked at the non-standard
> HTML Word produces. He also said the reason users used the proprietary
> Word format is that they preferred its "rich features" to open file
> formats. Really? Most MS Word and Office users I have met didn't know
> they could save in other formats until I told them, but I probably know
> an unrepresentative sample.
> The anti-Microsoft protestors -- all five or six of them -- wore
> colonial-era costumes attendees described as "quite nice" while they
> handed out leaflets in the building lobby the first morning of the
> conference. They were asked to leave by security guards, and refused.
> The security guards didn't push the matter. The protest, such as it was,
> fizzled rapidly due to lack of interest. We received an email pointing
> out that no matter what they said, the protestors did not represent New
> Yorkers For Fair Use in any way. Okay.
> The "Tractor Guy" protestor about 10 blocks away near the Washington
> Monument, who did not seem to have any interest in software at all, had
> a much greater effect on the conference because police closed streets --
> including several main arteries -- and created total traffic chaos
> throughout central Washington, including the streets adjacent to George
> Washington University, which was where the conference was held.
> Meanwhile, perhaps the most telling statement about the conference I
> heard was from a European, who wondered at the fact that "you in the
> U.S. are still talking about open source advocacy, while in Europe we
> have moved past that stage and are now discussing implementations."
> This statement was only partially true. Yes, advocacy was discussed, but
> so was implementation. Many government agency IT people presented case
> studies showing how they were using open source and free software to
> save taxpayers money and make their operations more efficient and more
> One GSA (General Services Administration) representative felt that this
> conference's primary benefit was that it showed him he was not alone;
> that there was more open source being used in more places within the
> federal government than he had thought. Not only that, he said he
> learned some helpful tricks from some of the sessions and -- best of all
> -- hooked up with several people from other agencies whose needs are
> similar to his, with whom he can cooperate on several projects, thereby
> increasing development and deployment efficiency even more.
> Conference presenters ranged from independent security experts to
> government insiders to vendor reps from companies like HP and Red Hat to
> physicians discussing open source patient recordkeeping systems.
> Indeed, the medical people were out in force. They suddenly seem to be
> discovering open source like mad, driven partly by the increased data
> processing needs of even the smallest medical practice that deals with
> Medicare and other insurers, and partially by a need to find new ways to
> save money in response to constant pressure on hospital and clinic
> One of the most interesting medical presentations was given by Dr. Scott
> Shreeve, Chief Medical Officer of Medsphere Systems Corporation, which
> hopes to become "The Red Hat of health care" by offering training,
> support, and services surrounding the public domain Veterans Health
> Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) packages and IT
> infrastucture that run VA hospitals and several other major healthcare
> institutions around the world.
> After his presentation, Dr. Shreeve met casually with Dr. John Danaher,
> President/CEO of Quick Compliance, a company that "offers comprehensive
> e-Learning, testing and tracking solutions to help your healthcare
> organization comply with the Health Insurance Portability Accountability
> Act (HIPAA)." Dr. Danaher was previously involved with WebMD and several
> other medical IT ventures. He is an old hand at the business of selling
> IT-related services to hospitals and physicians, and this conference
> gave Dr. Shreeve a chance to pick his brain.
> Dr. Danaher told Dr. Shreeve he needed to stop worrying about getting
> love from the open source community and trying to build partnerships
> with companies like Red Hat and HP, but should get out and do whatever
> he needs to do to get a pilot installation going before he uses up too
> much of his $800,000 in seed capital.
> "Even if you have to give it away, you need to get an installation up
> and running," Dr. Danaher advised. "No one wants to be first."
> While VistA may be proven, you see, Medsphere is not. At this point, the
> company is really nothing but some smart doctors and IT people, an
> office, a Web site, some good ideas, and some brochures -- and, of
> course, that magic seed capital. Dr. Danaher told Dr. Shreeve he
> shouldn't waste time looking for venture capital right now; that the VC
> well is so dry at the moment it is best to spend no energy trying to tap
> it, but focus all of Medsphere's energy on getting at least one pilot
> installation running successfully, then concentrate on sales. "I do a
> lot of cold calling these days," he said. "You need to get out there and
> get business and revenue. That's your key."
> This was just one conversation of many that went on during the
> conference between mentors and mentees, vendors and potential clients,
> and people from different government agencies sharing implementation
> tips and exchanging business cards, even a woman from Kenya who was
> taking notes while a United Nations development official talked to her
> one-on-one about how she might use open source to help build a low-cost
> IT infrastructure in her country.
> Many attendees, including a number of speakers, were there to make
> contacts that could lead to government contracts. Hans Reiser, creator
> of the highly-regarded ReiserFS journaling file system, was openly
> seeking contract programming work now that DARPA's sponsorship of
> (nearly complete) ReiserFS 4 is ending.
> Shaun Savage, the developer behind the interesting MozApps project, was
> there on his own dime from his home in Portland, Oregon, staying in a
> hotel across the Potomac River in Virginia to save money, hoping to find
> a government agency or contractor to sponsor his work, because he's
> nearly broke and has kids to feed -- and will soon need to take a
> full-time job instead of spending most of his time on MozApps.
> There were plenty of other contractors, consultants, and hopefuls there,
> not only from the U.S. but from other countries, although some foreign
> visitors cancelled due to fear of flight disruptions if war broke out.
> The entire Japanese government contingent was recalled, for example. But
> conference organizer Tony Stanco said that, overall, he didn't think war
> fears hurt attendance much; after all, he pointed out, there were many
> more people around than at the last government open source conference he
> put together.
> The biggest single complaint was that there were too many "tracks." Four
> sessions running at once, from early morning to early evening, made this
> an exhausting marathon for many, and often it was a hard choice which
> session to attend when two or three or four interesting ones were going
> on at the same time. The second most frequent complaint was that there
> were no "keynote" sessions that got everybody together in one room at
> the same time, which might have led to more cameraderie, and might have
> made the conference look larger. As it was, many government people from
> nearby agencies came to attend a few sessions they felt would interest
> them, then went back to work, and some only came for one or two of the
> three days, so most of the time the conference didn't "feel" as
> well-attended as it really was.
> Even the ballyhooed (and protested) Microsoft presentation only played
> to a crowd of about 80; while their guy was making his pitch, at least
> 100 were in other rooms, listening to serious technical talks or
> discussing the future of open source in medical administration, and
> another 80 to 100, possibly more, were scattered in the hallways and on
> the nearby sundeck or downstairs in the conference center's food court
> holding casual meetings -- or simply schmoozing, which is another
> perennial conference activity because these get-togethers are often the
> first time you get to put a face to a name with which you have exchanged
> email for months or even years.
> Stanco says next time he'll try to keep things more focused, and he
> plans to have fewer sessions and speakers. If nothing else, he's forced
> to do this because, he said, "This is just too much. I'm running all
> over the place. I haven't been to 80 percent of the sessions myself."
> Open Standards/Open Source for National and Local eGovernment Programs
> in the U.S. and EU is a long title for a conference, but this is an
> important one; the only Washington D.C. open source get-together
> specifically for government IT people. It is something we need to have
> at least once a year, possibly twice, and it's nice to see that the
> second version had so much higher attendance than the first. We hope v3
> attracts even more people, and helps spur even more government open
> source use.
> NYLXS: New Yorker Free Software Users Scene
> Fair Use -
> because it's either fair use or useless....
> NYLXS is a trademark of NYLXS, Inc
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