The greatest gathering of open media sw developers

When I started organising the first FOMS (Foundations of open media software developers workshop) in 2007, I did it because I saw a need to have media hackers get together in a room and discuss stuff in person. Email, irc, svn, bugzilla and wikis only get you a certain distance for collaboration. But no distance communication tool can replace the energy and creative spirit that is created through an in-person meeting and the ability to have a beer together in the evening. Discussions are more intense, impossibilities are identified faster, progress is amazing – and the energy will last and have an impact on the community for months to come after the event.

FOMS 2007 was great in that respect, because some 25 hackers got to know each other for the first time, friendships were formed, trust was built and new ideas (speaking: new code) was created. It was awesome and gave me the motivation to go and organise FOMS 2008. At this point let me express my gratitude to the organising committees of both FOMS 2007 and FOMS 2008 for the support they have given me to organise both workshops and hope they will help again next year in Tasmania.

So then FOMS 2008 took place and what can I say!? It totally blew me away. For me it was a much better experience than the year before because I didn’t also organise the video recordings at LCA. I was therefore more relaxed, got involved in design discussions, and was able to sit down during the week after FOMS at LCA and actually interact with people. On a side note here: Thanks so much to Donna Benjamin, the main organiser of LCA 2008, for getting the FOMS participants a room to ourselves where we were able to gather and get an awesome whole lot of work done.

Nearly the whole Xiph community was at FOMS and issues that have been brewing for years were tabled and discussed. A large number of audio hackers were there, too, and the issue of a standard sound APIs got some heated discussion. There’s a press release and the proceedings of the FOMS discussions up on the FOMS 2008 website, where you can make yourself a complete picture of all the issues that were discussed.

In addition to FOMS, Conrad Parker and I had also organised a Multimedia Miniconf at LCA. It was a great place to communicate some of the outcomes of FOMS and to present some of the latest developments in open media software in the Linux community. Video proceedings are available on the site.

Overall I must say that January has become the highlight of my year in open media software.