Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

A Year of Anniversaries and Change

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So, it’s 5 years since OSGeo was formed- that’s pretty cool! Spurred on by this post, I thought I would say a little bit about my involvement with OSGeo, and also rather clumsily segue this into an announcement about my impending change of job. It’s true- after years of not really thinking of myself as an archaeologist any longer, but rather ‘someone who works in an archaeological unit”, I’ve finally gone and got myself a real job. Anyhow, more on that later.

5 years ago, I was playing around with mapserver, because I wanted a way of serving data and some shiny web maps and we had no money to do it with. I sucked at it big time, with no programming experience, and barely any command line experience. My only linux knowledge consisted of messing around with a Sharp Zaurus (the best pda I’ve ever had), and I only really equated open source with “free as in beer”. I remember the excitement on the mapserver mailing list when OSGeo was announced, along with the open sourcing of MapGuide, and I also remember quite fancying the idea of a whole conference about this cool new stuff when FOSS4G was announced.

Since then, there have been so many lightbulb moments for me, such as getting the real “point” of open source, getting more involved with OSGeo via starting the UK chapter, breakthrough moments when I have really started to understand a particular program or language, getting over my fear of public speaking by talking about open source at conferences, teaching colleagues and strangers how to use this software, and getting consultancy jobs designing applications that use it.

Through that time, I’ve seen (heck, we’ve all seen) OSGeo go from strength to strength, and become a truly global organisation. More importantly though, it’s a great global community.

I should also say that my new job, as Web GIS Specialist/Lead Consultant at Astun Technology, could only have happened through the experience I’ve gained over the last five years, so thanks to everyone that’s helped with that. I’m sad to be leaving Oxford Archaeology, but massively looking forward to my new role, which I hope will allow me to keep up my involvement with OSGeo, and in particular the UK chapter.

Will I keep blogging? Yes, and hopefully more often as I learn lots of new and exciting stuff (new to me- I’m a recent very enthusiastic convert to Python-years after everyone else). Will I still be doing open source stuff? Hell, yes! Will I change the name of the blog? Pehaps…

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