My FOSDEM 2024
My journey started in the wee hours of the morning as I crossed the empty Dappermarkt (pictured above). This was my second FOSDEM (Free and Open source Software Developers' European Meeting) experience. Last year I was living in Brussels and just walked over. This year, I only decided to go 12 hours before the event because I wasn’t sure if I’d be up for it just two days after moving. I live in Amsterdam and have the “weekend free” NS ticket, so booking the three-hour train ride costs about 24 euros (only paying for the international part).
Unfortunately, this year wasn’t as good (though still enjoyable) for me, not at any fault of the conference organizers or attendees. My main reason for going to FOSEM was to connect with the techy community that I have missed a bit since starting my urban studies degree. Last year I brought along my non-techy girlfriend, we had much to talk about, and she encouraged me to approach the speakers after talks. However, this year I went without knowing anyone there. Chatted-up the people sitting next to me with casual “What brings you here? Where are you from? Any FOSS you’re excited about?” I just had a bit of bad luck that the people I happened to be next to weren't too responsive. I’m also not the best at driving the conversation and feel a little out of place because I’m currently in university for urban studies. When people hear that, I feel they lose a bit of interest.
On Saturday night, there was an afterparty at Hackerspace Brussels (HSBXL), but I couldn’t attend because of the logistics of meeting with the friend who was hosting me that night in the nearby city of Ghent. If I had joined the afterparty, I think I would be much happier with the connections I made.
Sunday, I decided not to join FOSDEM because I was having a fantastic morning with my friend. If my goal in attending FOSDEM was to build connections, I could do it right there with a friend I hadn't seen for some time. Plus, I didn’t sleep too well at a new place, so I didn’t feel at the top of my social game.
What I'll do differently next year
Introduce myself in relation to the FOSS I’m working on and mention that I’m just taking a break as a student.
- However, by the time FOSEM comes next year, I’ll be done with school!!
Join the afterparty(ies)
Wear more swag (pins and hats as conversation starters)
Coordinate ahead of time to meet some people
However, it wasn’t all bad. I learned about some cool things like:
Open Food Facts - they had an excellent talk about what they’re doing with crowd-sourcing food nutrition information and comparing products across countries. I think they said they’re launching a beta for including price data soon. Recording.
- An idea for a new wiki system with an emphasis on portability
Plus many more talks I want to watch recording of :)
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