SCALE 8x Attracts Largest Crowd In Its History
SCALE 8x attracts largest crowd in its history, 30 percent increase in registration bodes well for show, FOSS in general. LOS ANGELES – Observers looking to take the pulse of the Free/Open Source Software movement looked to the Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 8x, the first-of-the-year Linux event in the U.S., and found that this year, and the immediate future, may be at its brightest.
With nearly 1,500 registrants – an uptick of about 30 percent over last year -- and a packed expo floor for a large part of the weekend’s show, SCALE organizers call this year’s event an unparalleled success.
In a post-expo interview, SCALE’s Community Relations chairman Gareth Greenaway reflected on this year’s event.
“It’s always a bittersweet moment at SCALE; the last of the sessions finished, the exhibitor floor torn away and everyone heading home for some much deserved rest,” Greenaway said. “SCALE 8x was a huge success, not only because attendance was up or because the quality of the speaker sessions, but simply because it happened. SCALE is one of the longest running events around, and its success is a true testament to a thriving community.”
The spike in the number of attendees to the annual first-of-the-year Linux show caused most of the weekend’s sessions and talks to be full. In many instances, the talks were at room capacity and there was standing-room only. The keysigning party had nearly 50 participants on Saturday night.
In the case of Saturday’s keynote address, the keynote was simulcast to the overflow crowd into another room. Those 275 attendees to the keynote who couldn’t fit into the theater at the Westin Los Angeles Airport hotel, where SCALE 8x took place, watched the live simulcast in the nearby Kennedy room.
The attendance on the expo floor was also significantly higher, especially on the first show day on Saturday. The expo floor traffic had been so heavy that several of the exhibitors had run out of their giveaway items by Saturday afternoon.
“We were completely pillaged,” said Larry Cafiero, regional ambassador for the U.S. West Coast for the Fedora Project who worked the Fedora booth. “We had to go to our reserves of additional media to give away and we had just enough to get us through the weekend.”
The show officially started on Friday with several talks, including two tracks involving Women In Open Source (WIOS) and Open Source Software in Education (OSSIE).
Highlights of the WIOS track included a trio of girls – two 12-year-olds and an 8-year-old – who gave a talk about girls and Open Source software. Also, Sarah Mei gave a talk about women’s participation in the Ruby community in San Francisco, where 18 percent of the participating members are women.
The OSSIE track also produced some informative talks which provided educators and those in the education sector to bring back to their schools. Caryl Bigenho gave a presentation about “Sugar in Your Classroom,” referring to the Sugar desktop environment, and Ken Leyba gave a talk on “Linux in Small Environments.” OSSIE also provided a try-it lab for educators to try out different education-related software.
Fedora’s Cafiero also noted that a high number of teachers and others in the education field stopped by his booth at SCALE, a result he said stemming from curiosity and interest from those newcomers attending the OSSIE track.
UpSCALE Talks – SCALE’s version of Ignite Talks – were held on Friday evening as well, bringing out the best of the fast-talkers who had 5 minutes and 20 slides, shown in 15-second intervals, to give their presentation. Among the UpSCALE Talks on Friday were “So I married a geek . . . now what?” by Michelle Hall; “Volunteer Vertigo and High-Tech Hangovers,” by Amber Graner; and “How to Destroy Your Community,” by Josh Berkus.
Both the attendance and the number of new people drawn to the three-day event serve as a testament to the increase in interest and fares well for FOSS, according to Lxer.com editor Scott Ruecker.
“If the economy is on the decline and SCALE 8x is increasing in attendance, then the health of FOSS is becoming more robust,” Ruecker said.
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