Thursday, February 16, 2006

Open Source Users Conference (OSUC)

Hey...

If anyone wants to go start an open source users conference (and one is definitely needed), you can go buy the domain osuc.com for $3,925. Although, with an acronym like that, it may be worth passing up.

Seriously...

We do need an open source users conference. This was my fourth OSBC, and like the previous conferences, the only end-users I met were either brought by vendors or spoke on panels. OSBC tried this year, even offering free iPod Nanos for registrants (use company money, get free personal MP3 player), but as much as I love OSBC for networking opportunities within the industry, for whatever reason, it does not appeal to end users.

If you look at the predominant "bottom-up" adoption trend of open source technology, then an event like OSCON serves the adopters. The problem is, OSCON attendees don't often have purchasing authority or P&L responsibility. These are coders, sys admins, and IT architects, for the most part. And in the same vein as OBSC, I really enjoy OSCON, too. Both of these conferences offered value to me as a) an IT end user b) a journalist and now c) an analyst.

Maybe the end users (those with purchasing authority) don't want to go to conferences focused exclusively on the topic of open source. I spoke with two vendors at OSBC who were disappointed that they didn't meet enough end users, but they also both admitted that it was worth coming. They'll be coming next year as attendees, not paying sponsors.

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