Monday, February 04, 2008

BarCamp Senza Confini 2008, Klagenfurt

Last Saturday, I've been BarCamp Senza Confini 2008, held in Klagenfurt, Austria. It was really fun time! (with liters of orange juice in my stomach :P) Here is my impression about some sessions.

Opening Session
All participants had a short time to introduce themselves. If you remember, I'm the girl from Korea. ;) I'm currently at Zemanta in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

1. Distributed Source Control Management
This talk was introducing Mercurial, a distributed version control system. It is already adopted to ongoing projects. The basic idea is having a local repository on every contributor's system, instead of a centralized server. The benefits from the local repository is 1) to enable offline commit 2) to make it easy to maintain branches, cause every set is now a branch.
It was quite tempting that it's possible to work offline. Yet the control for revisions and heads looked so complicated. For example, when you talk about a specific change set with other people, you should refer to its hash value, not the revision. This different concept of the revision may cause a confusion to users from other version control systems.

2. Is there Internet in North Korea?
First, it was a surprise for me. I didn't expect I'd watch a presentation about North Korea here, in Europe.. :)
The presenter, Stefan Jäger, has been North Korea as a journalist. He draw quite a realistic sketch of the strictly controlled and regulated media in North Korea, and the statistics and episodes which he gave were interesting.
As a Korean, though, I think that it would've been more interesting if he had more focused on the Internet. I could fully understand what a strange(and scary) media system NK has, and there was no exaggeration in his episodes, but what I wanted to know was how the North Korean uses the Internet. According to Stefan, even though it's more like an Intranet than Internet, there are many websites such as news and chatting services. Of course only a few people can access the real Internet outside. Stefan said the speed of Internet was so poor. Ah, an interesting information from him. The server of the official site is located in Berlin.
In fact, there were some attempts to include NK's own euc-kp encoding to Mozilla (I can't find the article in English.. an old discussion about this issue in a South Korean forum). It means at least the developers are using Mozilla, and other users of a limited number might also be using Mozilla browser, like us. At the old discussion, South Koreans worried that the trend is towards Unicode so it's not a good idea to support euc-**, but there was no way to convey this opinion, of course.
I've found a few more interesting factors, for example, they have their own copyright so-called "copyright Juche". :D But I'd rather not say furthermore, cause accessing North Korean websites is still forbidden to South Koreans. :(

3. Wikipedia Introduction
As the title is saying, this presentation mostly gave introductory facts about Wikipedia. But there was an interesting discussion about the current limitation of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not well-designed for multimedia, and it has quite unfriendly user interfaces. One participant gave a nice example: Suppose that a great biologist found a wrong fact in Wikipedia while surfing. The biologist wanted to fix it but couldn't make it, because the interface was too hard for a non-geek person to use.
The problem is the organization for Wikipedia has very limited resources. It's shocking that only 8-10 persons are maintaining Wikipedia, when considering the fact that a lot of researchers and mash-up services rely on Wikipedia..
The presentation expected the future of wikipedia to get broader: to open publishing, free scientific contents.

4. Building a semantic-driven startup: Zemanta

Zemanta is a new startup that is working on creating a mashable, open-API that suggest to you images, articles, links and tags for your text.
Even though I've been working, talking, and eating at Zemanta for two weeks, there were still more interesting stories. Jure and Andraz gave useful messages for new startups. A few messages that I remember:

- Talk to as many people as possible. People don't steal your idea.
- Go to conferences. Prove your ability.

Okay, these might seem trivial in written, but the difference is that they gave their real live examples, with a brief history of the dynamic last 6 months. It's beyond my ability to transfer that feeling.

I'll write about Zemanta in detail later, from a guest programmer's point of view. :D

5. Lightning Session
I liked the format, up to 5 minutes talk of ten people. It was fast and inspiring.

- Xobni looks into your emails and helps you to keep in touch with people. Actually I had a similar idea about this before. What I was thinking was a program to check MSN logs and recommend someone who will possibly buy you a lunch today.. (not similar? :D)

- When you go somewhere another country, you might look up Couch Surfing to find a place to stay for a while, and to meet nice local people. Just prepare open-mind to share different culture.

- Let's think about Green IT!

On 1st February, there was FutureCamp in Seoul, Korea. I couldn't visit there, of course, but I would guess it must've been also an attractive event, from 140 people on the waiting list. :)


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