Open Web Vancouver

Open Web Vancouver was pretty awesome this year. The Pirate Party keynote by Rickard Falvange was awesome, and really was a solid follow up to Zak Greant's talk on "The Age of Literate Machines". Given the current climate with people fighting against more oppressive copyright, I really liked how relevant it was, and how it tied to the Civil Rights movement.

The second keyonote talk was also really well put together. I saw Angela Byron's "Women in Open Source", and it was interesting to see how many other people were shocked as to how few women were in Open Source. The talk was interesting, and depressing at times, but it was a good talk, and it showed a need for everyone in the Open Source community to wake up to this reality and do something about it.

The thing that irritated me the most about the conference was actually not the fault of the organizers of the conference, and is entirely the fault of Bell Canada, and the convention center. Jake Appelbaum of the Tor Project (and of Noisebridge) was giving a talk on Tor. Tor is an anonymizing router that allows for people in places such as Iran and China to access roughly the same internet as someone living in a country such as Canada or the United States, getting around government restrictions such as the Great Firewall of China. The problem is that unfortunately, the Vancouver Convention Center is more oppressive than the Chinese Government, because they blocked the following sites:

Now, I can understand blocking something like 4chan (the Anime convention had a talk on it, BTW), but blocking Tor and UNICEF is crossing a line. The site in question had information on a project that I was looking to promote during my Android talk, which allowed for formatted SMS messages to indicate where things like Mosquito Nets to prevent Malaria should go, and where buckets for distributing clean drinking water should go. This project actually does a LOT of good. Too bad Bell Canada disagrees with me.

The other talks at the conference were pretty awesome. The big complaint that I had this year was
that the PhoneGap presentation by Brock and Rob was at the same time as Franklin Lopez's presentation about Documenting Dissent. The Open Data talks by David Eaves were pretty interesting as well, since the City wanted to know what data it should open first.

In short, the conference was great, despite the fact that Bell censored the Wireless. I find that this will be the one thing that sticks in my mind this year, since the organizers did their best to position Open Source, Free Speech and Fair Copyright in the forefront.