This year, I went for the third time at the Open Source Summit Europe conference. As usual, most of the talks were of good quality, but a certain type of intervention caught my attention and have consolidated my trust in the Open Source software model.
Actually, the talks I appreciated the most were not really technical talks but rather the one given on not only IT direct link subjects and I would like to highlight 2 of them.
Digital Echoes Understanding Patterns of Mass Violence with Data and Statistics
The first talk that made me react was about the impact of open source software in the Human Rights field. It was held by Patrick Ball of the HRDAG (Human Rights Data Analysis Group).
What Mr Patrick Ball is doing as a day to day job is extracting the truth from huge amounts of data. From the Chadian prisons to Guatemala genocide or US police homicides, he is working to get the truth out of the data. Not just for the pleasure of the exercise, but to improve our society and it has a real impact on all of us. I have the feeling that it makes all of us a little better. Of course, he is doing that using Open Source tools, leveraging our common knowledge and effort.
I can not encourage you enough to go and watch his talk that you will be able to find here:
Astronomy with Gravitational Waves
Dr. Alexander Nitz gave this talk, he explained in front of the audience how the institute he is working for was able to detect invisible waves and in fact, understanding some of the implications of this waves. Again it would not have been possible without Open Source software (and freaking huge measurement equipments).
For me the fact that Open Source software help us to understand the universe out there is just blow minding!!!!!
You can find the video of this talk here:
What these 2 talks have in common is the fact that they both highlight the beneficial impact Open Source software has on our society, it enables us to do things that would not have been possible without it. When you participate into Open Source software, you do not really know how the thing you are building will be used, you have an idea, maybe you build it to fill one of your needs, but really, at the end of the day, you can not know what people will use it for and which impact it will have. The 2 examples above are only a small subset of what Open Source software enable our society to do.
There were real good purely IT related talk that I really enjoyed at this year Open Source Summit, here is my top 5: