OSCOM 3: General Report

I would like to thank MySQL AB who graciously sponsored my trip to OSCOM 3

### 1. Abstract ###

This is a brief report on the OSCOM 3 conference that took place May 28 â?? 30 at Harvard Law School.

### 2. Topic ###

The 3rd Open Source Content Management conference had the slogan “Leveraging content with CMS: authoring and syndication towards the semantic web” [1]

### 3. Program ###

The program [2] was separated into 3 tracks.
1) Leveraging content (Semantic Web & eLearning)
2) CMS contextualized (Law, Business / Society, Evaluation)
3) CMS Technology (Development, Web Services, GUI)

At the first day, tutorials were presented, introducing several FOSS CMSs and related technologies. Parallel, three panel discussions took place that attracted attention by those not interested in the tutorials.

The following two days offered 45 minutes sessions with discussion on various topics, for example:
– CMS for Universities: A case study
– Top Ten Features from the Commercial CMS World
– DublinCore metadata in CMS frameworks
– Versioning Structured Content in a Content Management Application
– Open Software for OpenLaw
– Collaborative Mapping on the Semantic Web

During lunch breaks or in the evening, about ten Birds of Feathers meetings took place [3], for example:
– Content Management for local communities
– Non-profit/Charity Organisations

### 4. Organizers ###

The 3rd OSCOM conference was organised by OSCOM, which stands for Open Source Content Management.

“OSCOM is an international, not-for-profit organization dedicated to Open Source Content Management. The goal is to bring together as many great brains as possible to build a network and grow the community of open source content management. We want to show the world that there are already great and easy-to-use open source content management solutions out there.” [4]

The current board of directors includes (find in brackets the OSS CMS they lead):
* Eric Wiseman
* Gregor J. Rothfuss (Wyona, Xaraya)
* Henri Bergius (Midgard)
* Michael Wechner (Wyona)
* Paul Everitt (Zope)
* Roger Fischer (Bitflux CMS)

### 5. Venue ###

The Third Open Source Content Management Conference took place at Harvard Law School Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Cambridge, MA, USA. [5]

### 6. Sponsors ###

OSCOM offered three Sponsor packages:
* Platinum Sponsor Package $10,000
* Gold Sponsor Package $5,000
* Silver Sponsor Package $1,000

See for more information http://oscom.org/Conferences/Cambridge/sponsoring.html

The actual sponsors were:

Gold Sponsor:
– Harvard Law School, The Berkman Center for Internet & Society [6]

Silver Sponsors:
– Boston.com [7]
– O’Reilly [8]

Media Sponsors
– The Gilbane Report [9]
– Linux Journal [10]

### 7. Speakers ###

The different professional backgrounds of the speakers demonstrate the broad range of topics discussed at the conference. There were representatives of software companies (e.g. RedHat, Hewlett-Packard, Sleepycat), Universities (e.g. Washington, St. Gallen), Open Source communities (Zope, Samizdat), journalists (e.g. Jon Udell), and so on. This clearly demonstrates the important role that OSCOM plays in the FOSS community and the wide range of interest it covers.

This is a full list of all speakers or panel attendees – let the name-dropping begin 🙂 (Please let me know if I got something wrong with the names or professions.)

Ed Boyajian VP, Red Hat
Ed Kelly, Ropes and Gray
Gregor Rothfuss (Wyona)
JT Smith CEO, Plain Black (WebGUI)
Michael Wechner, Apache Lenya
Henri Bergius, Midgard
Tres Seaver, Zope
Mike Olson, CEO, Sleepycat Software
Larry Rosen, Open Source Initiative
Aaron Swartz, Creative Commons
Liza Vertinsky, Wolf, Greenfield, and Sacks
Michelle Heizer, University of Missouri (Rolla)
Marc Lavallee, Boston.com (the website of the Boston Globe, a New York Times company)
Sam Quigley, Harvard Art Museums Director of Digital Information and Technology
Hal Roberts, Senior Technology Analyst, Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Joseph Reagle, MIT, W3C/IETF
David Weinberger, Co-Author, The Cluetrain Manifesto
Jef Huang, Professor, Harvard Design School
Paul Everitt, Zope
Christian Stocker, Bitflux
Roger Fischer, Bitflux
Dr. Elliot McGucken, UNC Chapel Hill, Center for The Public Domain
Blake Watters, ibiblio.org
Dave Winer, Radio Userland, Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Mick Bass, HP Laboratories
Jennifer Lynch Manager, University Advancement Web Communications University of Rolla-MO
Greg Stein, Chairman Apache Software Foundation
Tony Byrne, CMSWatch
Justin Ross, RedHat
Bob Boiko, University of Washington
Robert Stephenson, OpenCourse.org, the Harvey Project, Wayne State University
Dorai Thodla, OpenCourse.org, iMorph, Inc.
Brian Carroll, Senior Director of Architecture, Merant
Martin Langhoff, CWA New Media
George N. Dafermos, is the author of “Management and Virtual Decentralised Networks: The Linux Project”
Rafael Schloming, Red Hat, Inc.
Jon Udell, InfoWorld
Dmitry Borodaenko, Samizdat
Florian Stahl, University of St. Gallen
Chris Wilper, Cornell Digital Library Research Group
Sandro Zic, ZZ/OSS
Ross Reedstrom, Ph.D., Rice University
Karl Goldstein
Reto Bachmann-Gmuer
Wendy Seltzer, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Jon Orris, Red Hat, Inc.

### 8. Audience ###

I spotted or talked to some of the persons, who participated in OSCOM 3. These are members of the Apache Software Foundation (e.g. Sam Ruby), of the MIT, the Harvard Business School, the German magazine “Die Zeit”, international not-for-profit organizations (e.g. Soros Foundation), etc. In general, I was surprised that there were also many end-users at the conference to better understand CMS technology, usability issues, and the market.

### 9. History ###

There have already been two OSCOM conferences taking place. March 2002 in Zurich, Switzerland [11] and September 2002 in Berkeley, California, USA [12].

### 10. Future ###

The future of OSCOM conferences has been discussed at the closing panel. It looks like there will be one or two major events aka conferences per year and several sprints [13] at locations spread around the world at no specified time frame.

### 11. Technologies ###

### 11.1. Web Site ###

The conference utilized several technologies to inform about it, keep people interacting, etc. First of all, all necessary information has been presented online at the OSCOM Web site [14].

All proposals sent in due to the call for papers have been published there. Each proposal has been placed at one page with the possibility for anyone to comment the proposals online. This utility was only randomly used for criticizing proposals or adding ideas to it [15]. Also, the comment form has been used to post links to the session slides after the conference had finished.

### 11.2. Weblogs ###

The OSCOM Web site itself offers a general Weblog [16] where OSCOM-related issues are being tracked. A speciality was introduced for the conference: each proposal aka session could be referenced by a TrackBack ping from other people’s Weblogs if they refer to a certain proposal in their Weblog story. This opened up a cosmos of individuals circling around common ideas and interests.

Discussions about OSCOM sessions, especially the keynotes [17], kept going on at several Weblogs. Unfortunately, not all of those discussions can be found from the OSCOM Web site up to now. At the beginning of OSCOM, Sam Ruby came up with the idea of a “Ridiculously Easy Group Forming” by referring to his Weblog entry “Are you going to OSCOM?” [18]. Unfortunately, this initiative was followed only by some Webloggers, otherwise the decentralized discussions going on during and after OSCOM 3 may be found easier. Maybe OSCOM could provide a â??I have a blog about OSCOM 3â? group forming blog entry just like Samâ??s?

### 11.3. Mailinglist ###

A participants mailinglist [19] was provided for those interested in attending the conference. This mailing list served/serves the following purposes:
– At the beginning, discussions took place about how OSCOM should be organized [20]
– Comments to the proposals have automatically been sent to this mailing list
– TrackBacks to the proposals have been sent to this list
– Participants were able to discuss accommodation and travel issues
– Keep participants informed about after-conference events

### 11.4. Video and Audio ###

All sessions have been videotaped, some of them audiotaped. Videos are not available as of time of writing, but some mp3 files can already be downloaded [21].

### 11.5. IRC ###

The closing panel was live broadcasted via IRC. Some OSCOM members wrote notes from the discussion to the chat, so that remote attendees could follow. The room that the closing panel took place had WLAN and Ethernet Internet access at every seat.

### 12. Summary ###

The third OSCOM conference is best described by adjectives like vivid, open minded, controversial, state-of-the-art. The diverse interests of the audience have been met by the range of speakers and the discussions evolving during or in between sessions. What was missing, were some introductory sessions, especially about the Semantic Web for those who just started dealing with this topic.

Splitting the conference in a first day with tutorials and the following two days with sessions was a good choice. This way people who were not interest in the tutorials could visit the other two days only. It was also a good choice to cluster the sessions in three tracks. The tracks opened up the chance to assess the sessions related to an attendee’s knowledge background.

The broad range of integrated Internet technologies like WWW, Weblogs, IRC, etc. offered the chance for participants and those who could not make it to OSCOM, to follow the discussions. Now that the conference is over, this information pool nicely demonstrates the collaborative nature of the OSCOM movement.

[1] http://blog.oscom.org/archive/000037.html
[2] http://www.linuxjournal.com/
[3] http://conferences.oscom.org/cambridge/may_2003/boffer/report.php
[4] http://www.oscom.org/Organization/
[5] http://www.oscom.org/Conferences/Cambridge/Location/
[6] http://cyber.law.harvard.edu
[7] http://www.boston.com/
[8] http://www.oreilly.com/
[9] http://www.gilbane.com/
[10] http://www.linuxjournal.com/
[11] http://oscom.org/Conferences/Zurich/
[12] http://oscom.org/Conferences/Berkeley/
[13] http://oscom.org/Conferences/Sprints/
[14] http://oscom.org/Conferences/Cambridge/
[15] See for example http://oscom.org/Conferences/Cambridge/Proposals/heizer_cms_for_universities.html
[16] http://blog.oscom.org/
[17] http://www.intertwingly.net/blog/1439.html
[18] http://www.intertwingly.net/blog/1336.html
[19] http://lists.oscom.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/participants
[20] http://lists.oscom.org/pipermail/participants/2003-January/000028.html
[21] http://oscom.org/Conferences/Cambridge/Proposals/walsh_collaborative_mapping.html

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