Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

Chambered Cairns, Islands, Whiskey and No Computers!

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Just a quick note to say that I’ve been away on holiday for a fortnight, in gorgeous Orkney in the far north of Scotland. A fortnight of absolutely no computers (apart from downloading digital photos), wandering around beautiful islands with sandy beaches (OK, mostly in the driving wind or pouring rain), visiting Chambered Cairns, drinking whiskey and generally chilling out. I have to say that I very much enjoyed disengaging from technology, information streams and general online interaction very much, so obviously needed the break! I’d post a photo or two but haven’t got round to QA-ing them all yet!

I’m off to the AGI conference in Stratford this afternoon, and would welcome the opportunity to meet up with folk while I’m there- we’re intending some kind of informal OSGeo UK meetup on Thursday but I’ll be around for both days. I’ll blog about the conference while I’m there if I get the chance.

As someone else said recently, the advantage of catching up on several weeks of RSS posts all at once is that you see some trends and relationships that you’d probably miss otherwise. One that caught my eye was this, from Martin Daly, in response to a long and thought-provoking piece on open source by Ian Bicking. Without trying to second-guess either Ian or Martin, it’s clear that there are always going to be different motivations for adopting and working with open source. Via a tortuous chain of links I revisited this post of Paul Ramsey’s from last year, responding to a Jack Dangermond interview, in which open source is mentioned and summarily dismissed. Paul is uneasy with the political connotations of calling open source a “movement”, but for some people that’s clearly what it is.

I’m beginning to see open source as being a choice similar to choosing organic food, or going green. For some people, this is a political movement. For others, nothing else makes any logical sense. For others, it’s a purely market-driven decision, and I’m sure there are many more motivations. The different camps don’t always sit nicely together, and occasionally see each other as harming the general cause. But we should all take heart from the fact that going green used to be the province of the yoghurt-eating, hemp-wearing hippies, but we’re all recycling and changing our light-bulbs to energy savers (and even eating yoghurt and wearing hemp) now.

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