This was my second year attending, and it was just as great and inspiring as last time. If anything there were more talks that I was interesting in attending than last year. (Could have been the whole Decentralization track that added to that.)
We kicked off Friday with a stall at the Science Fair. 3 hours flew by. Lots of interest (with a good percentage drawn over by Wall-E on our stall). We had a ‘Guess the Shadow CO2’ competition, where people took a stab at the embodied CO2 emissions produced by the manufacture of either a laptop or a smartphone. A free Fixfest t-shirt to those within 20%. I think we gave away just two. Guesses were all over the place, frequently an order of magnitude out, which was interesting. I guess CO2 just isn’t that widely discussed.
Saturday kicked off with Tomas Petricek demoing The Gamma Project, a tool for ‘open data-driven storytelling’. Pretty cool, a quick way to turn a CSV of data into charts, with a unique idea being that the code and the data is very tightly embedded into the document displaying the results, to make research more reproducible. A very cool feature was the ability to add a ‘guess’ function, a simple bit of interactivity to get the reader more engaged with the article. I caught a bit of the tail end of a talk by tech lawyer Mishi Choudhary.
After lunch was a hands on session with Dat led by Max Ogden, where we went through try-dat. Very very cool stuff. I haven’t completely wrapped my head around it or its seemingly endless use cases just yet. Starting I believe from a way to store and disseminate large datasets peer-to-peer, it seems to have grown into an all-purpose peer-to-peer protocol. We for instance worked on a self/peer-hosted webpage (replete with many photos of cats.) It was described during the session as like a combo of git and bittorrent.
After this, a great panel session on moving the open web movement forward with Ryan Merkley of Creative Commons, Katherine Mayer of Wikimedia, and Mark Surman of Mozilla. Then Ugo gave a talk on the benefits of repair and the growing threat of hardware obsolescence due to lack of software support.
Wrapped the day off with a session on Beaker Browser led by Tara Vancil. Again very cool stuff, of which I haven’t yet fully wrapped my head around it. It feels like there could be a possible indieweb argument, in that theoretically there’s no single host of your site. Even hosting is decentralized. But perhaps that’s tangential to indieweb.
The common threads for me on day 1 seemed to be data visualisation and data decentralisation. There were simply too many sessions to attend, with multiple cool ones overlapping. Almost an embarassment of riches, but it’s surely a sign of a vibrant community.