Michael is a research engineer at the BBC and he gave a talk about the Kamaelia component framework. This a framework and a set of tools for making programming for concurrency for things like content handling and scalable network services easy.
The talk was pretty hardcore and covered a lot of technical detail though as with many great ideas the core principle is simple: you build systems using components that have an inbox and an outbox, so you don’t have to worry about whether the generator or sink is ready, you just work on the components you need in essence in isolation.
The presentation itself was given on an interactive whiteboard application that was built using Kamaelia. It’s a fascinating technology that would well end up being the glue that sticks together a whole swathe of distributed, media based content systems.
Nat Friedman‘s talk was very wide ranging and as he himself said it was just a real grab bag of slides.
He started with the story of how the Oxford English Dictionary got started and how it was in essence an open source project: community based with citations solicited from anyone. There was a strong leader and then a team of lieutenants ( 26 editors one for each letter ). The work was divided in such a way as to allow people to work on small units (i.e. a single word) and contribute when they had a little time to spare.
The parallel with FLOSS was really striking.
Then Nat put up some stats to show the millions of lines of code that Novell has contributed back to the Flosscomm. (Lest we forget)
Nat also discussed the patent situation as some length and I think he was surprised he was not given a hard time about it in the debate the day before. I guess he wasn’t aware how “nice” and polite a British audience will be. He discussed different aspects of Intellectual Property namely, copyright, trade mark, trade secret and patent.
The whole software patent situation in the US is pretty scary but also rather boring. Maybe I’ve been over exposed to it in the last few months on the various blogs and feeds I read.
Nat however certainly wasn’t boring and did give some interesting views on how in the end Microsoft will end up being on the same side as us for patents because they are more and more the target of claims against them.
The Hour of Power
One hour of cool visual demos. There were a few technical hitches with getting laptops to talk to the AV kit but we got to see some cool stuff. There’s not much point in going into too much detail in this area as you had to see them to appreciate them so here are the runners and riders:-
The final hour of the day I saw two of the lightning talks upstairs ( prior to that I had been a total Main Stage whore).
The cool thing about the Buni Meldware software is that it treats email and calendar information as just any other sort of data and stores it in a relational database.
The talk covered the ideas behind the project and in particular its use ofJava. The old days of Java being slow, it seems, are over.
Peter gave an interesting talk about the UK government’s digital challenge competition that encouraged local authorities to find ways of bringing the benefits of the information age to those people who are already socially excluded and just ending up being left further and further behind.
Unfortunately he wasn’t able to provide details of how much open source software was involved in this though he knew some was.
He spoke about some interesting projects to make digital set top boxes much more interactive so they could be used as a medium for providing services to local authority service users electronically without the need for a full blown PC and Internet connection. Not only would this be cheaper but would also mean the user interface and learning curve would be less than that of a traditional PC.
So that was Lug Radio Live 2007. I had a great time and great big thank you to all the people involved in making it happen.