Eurofoo

Over the weekend I was at the Eurofoo conference in Enschede. Tim O’Reilly invited a group of people to hang out for a couple of days and tell each other about cool stuff. Before I forget it all, here’s a brief list of the interesting things that I saw.

  • Ben Hammersley creates RSS feeds of error messages and things like that from his server. Then he can read them using an RSS reader along with all the blogs he reads. He is thinking about using RSS as a medium for distributing web applications.
  • Nat Torkington told us that O’Reilly are seriously thinking of running a big Open Source conference in Europe next year. We had a discussion on locations, prices and how OSCON would differentiate itself from the million other Open Source conferences in Europe.
  • SteveC talked about using cheap GPS devices to digitise map data and build an Open Source version of the Ordnance Survey Data (which currently has huge licensing costs).
  • Paula LeDieu talked about the huge headaches involved in making all of the BBC’s output available in the public domain.
  • Tom Coates and Matt Biddulph talked about the new Radio 3 web site which is intended to be a prototype for new versions of other BBC broadcasting web sites. They are thinking of making available a large amount of RDF data describing the programs and were interested to know what cool things people might do with it.
  • Tim O’Reilly repeated his talk from OSCON last month where he described how O’Reilly monitor the “alpha geeks” in order to work out what other programmers will be interested in 18 months later on – so they can have books ready.
  • Stefan Magdalinski showed us theyworkforyou.com which takes the badly formatted data from Hansard and displays it in a much easier to use format. Use it to monitor what your MP is saying in parliament and (more importantly) comment on it.
  • Simon Wardley talked about 3D printing. Which does what it says on the can. You take a file representing a 3D object (like from a CAD/CAM program) and “print” it as a real 3D object. Sounds like science fiction but isn’t. He had examples of the output to show us.
  • Tim O’Reilly then gave another talk where he explained how O’Reilly closely monitor book sales of both their books and books from other publishers to get a picture of the whole book market and how it changes over time.

This is just one slice of the conference. At any time there were up to eight talks going on. There were many times that I wanted to be in two or three places at once.

And, as always, the most interesting stuff came from random conversations in the bar. I found that there are already a large number of people who are creating Open Source software for health monitoring and management. At my day job we should probably be looking at what these people are doing.

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