Out with the Makers

Mon Jan 27 09:00:00 2014

I am starting this blog as I sit in the back of the conference hall at South Lakes Foyer in Kendal. I just gave a talk to the Engineering Society on Open Source and as I write Ian Norton is giving a talk on how the Internet Works.

The talk I gave was a general introduction to the philosophy underpinning Open Source, how OS as a model works and why you should be using it in business. This was a very new area for the members as many of them have strong hardware skills but are new to software.

I didn't really touch too much on the differences between Open Source and Free Software as it is a hard to distinguish argument for neophytes to the discussion. Also there is little value, the FSS model is admirable but one which is less favoured by companies seeking to use more open methods.

Mark in front of the audience
Starting my presentation
And at this point I like to present people with a giant picture of bread

As I sit here Ian is embracing the members in an interactive talk on how the internet works, in a physical sense, using the model of a telephone system and the history of how the telephone was introduced. I am loving the approach that Ian has taken, he is getting the audience to interrupt at will and ask questions making the whole talk a lot more fun for them. It was a slight shock to him when he discovered a couple of the members were ex-telephone engineers.

Ian in his talk
Ian talking about how connections are made

For my talk, I am not sure how much I conveyed the subject as it is a broad area and difficult to fit into a single area, especially for anyone new to the subject. I am hoping they enjoyed it and I didn't either bore them or convey a poor message. These are all intelligent, and interesting, guys and I would like to think they got something out of it.[1]

I did manage to have a bit of gentle banter about the guarantees of an open system and in particular how it might invalidate another matter. I used a basic analogy that it would be nice if you were driving a car and someone came along and upgraded the engine for free. This elicited the thought that it may not be that great if the brakes then stopped working. This is true and I hope I wasn't too flippant in my jokey response. It was along the lines of:

the members
At the back during Ian's talk

"Well yes if you strap a rocket to a Robin Reliant it might do three hundred miles per hour but there'd be no guarantee that your brakes would still work, you certainly have exceeded the manufacturers recommended usage and tolerances."

It was a good evening and I think both of the talks complemented each other nicely. It will be interesting to see if we can re-model them slightly and present them again to some other groups in the near future.

Thanks to the guys at the Kendal Engineering Society for hosting us and for providing some good questions and solid feedback.

Ian and Mark answering questions
Both of us answering questions at the end of Ian's talk.

[1] Before publication of this blog we received several messages thanking us for the talks from the members, I would like to thank them for taking the time to give their comments.

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