Things I've learned from attending linux.conf.au
(1) My work -- using FOSS tools to aid historical research -- is interesting to people outside the 'digital humanities'. People came to my miniconference talks
. It's counterproductive to wonder whether people came specifically to hear me, or just because they had nothing better to do. The point is, they turned up; some asked questions and made useful comments following the talks, and some later in the week. I even exchanged calling cards.
I've learned that there are geeks who are interested in hearing about [the use of computers in] history. It would be interesting to try delivering similar presentations (or writing articles) in a different direction -- talking to historians about how they can use computers at a more advanced level than desktop applications.
(2) The Linux/FOSS community is a close and compassionate one. Yes, there are notable exceptions to this, but this annual large gathering of geeks somehow brings out the best in a lot of the attendees. It's a community that provides support to people affected by the economic crisis, and that has donated $40,000
and Bdale Garbee's beard
to Tasmanian devil research. [another report
] I'm guessing that the proportion of women attending these events and being accepted as fellow geeks, not token women, is also increasing.
The FOSS community is not my primary one, but I admire its values and its community spirit.
The public website for my main project, Founders and Survivors
, has not officially launched yet, but it was promoted in my talks and in the Fairfax press
, and quite a few people have already made contact with us about getting involved. I feel my work is starting to bear fruit.