OpenTech -- The First Couple of Hours

On Saturday (July 23rd) I made my way across London to the NTK/UKUUG/BBC OpenTech event, carrying on the tradition of NOTCON and sponsored by the BBC it had an impressive list of speakers including Jeremy Zawodny (Yahoos best PR) and Ted Nelson.

The crowd was a pretty varied one, along with the usual London Perl Mongers, London Linux users, Debian dudes and UKUUG people there were a lot of people that seemed to be more culture and media orientated. The mix worked quite well and led to some interesting between session conversations in the halls. The venue itself was pretty damn good. An on-site bar (priorities ;)), two rooms (one of which was a big lecture theatre) and a lobby in the middle with plenty of chatting room, venders and the lovely (yet insane) Josette from O’Reilly selling her wares.

The first talk of the day was preceded by an impromptu SSH tunnelling tutorial when one of the on-site technical people spent five minutes getting the speakers laptop rigged up to the outside world. It was when he finished and half the audience cheered and the other half looked blank I realised it wasn’t a tech geek only event.

The first actual speaker was Danny O’Brien of NTK and Lifehacks fame. His session was on Living Life in Public and it was a perfect intro to the day. I’ve never seen him talk before and while he’s bloody funny (and had some great one liners) he also covered an interesting topic; the idea that when you’re micro famous they know you but you don’t know them.

While the actual presentation was slick, well paced and kept the audience laughing a lot of the message is a little scary, with Flickr, del.icio.us, usenet, the web and a number of subscription databases it’s getting easier than ever to track someone and find out a lot more about them than they’d want you to know. I really enjoyed the topic and the speaker and if you get the chance to hear him speak go for it.

Some of the best quotes from the session were:
“ESR often turns up at my talks. Typically with a gun.” “After about six people unless you have something very wrong with your head I won’t recognise you.” And a number of lines about research into high-school girls that I won’t type just in case Google finds them :)