Saying Goodbye to Boston

April 9, 2008

Last week was incredible. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I spent most of the week in Boston, meeting various people and groups at some of the finest universities in the country. Boston is such a great place because it is a hotbed of technology and especially, Open Source, activity.

First up was BU last Tuesday. I got to meet members of the Computer Science faculty including Dr. Sclaroff, the chair of BU CS and a bunch of the other faculty. Really great folks! I got alot of feedback from them about how we can further students’ awareness of Open Source and relevant issues, and how we can further enhance our relationship with BU. Everyone was already well aware of our closeness with them and they really want us grow our relationship with the CS department.

The session at BU was pretty small, but very very sweet. Due to Bose holding an info session and giving away free speaker systems, many people decide to head there. One of the faculty members even came up to me and apologized before my talk, and we both got a good laugh out of it. If I would have known about this I probably would have ditched myself! Regardless, the students at BU were well aware of FUDcon and we had some FUDcon attendees in the crowd. I got some really good questions about Creative Commons and the whole concept of Intellectual Property reform and also about the Microsoft patent news from a few weeks ago. Very interesting conversation all around. I walked out of that place saying to myself, “wow, these kids are informed!!”

The rest of the week I spent meeting different faculty, students and various groups from MIT, Northeastern and the biggest surprise–Hardvard.

On Thursday, I got to meet up with some guys from MIT’s linguistics lab and the IEEE chapter there.  All I can say is they are doing some amazing research, especially in the field of Natural Language Processing.  They obviously are heavy users of Open Source.  They don’t run much Red Hat or Fedora, almost everything they have is Debian, but I guess that was to be expected.  Really alot of what they are looking for is organizations to fund their research.

Along with those guys came on of Hardvard University’s IT staff.  He helps run Harvard’s massive IT center which is located on Soldier Field Road on the other side of the river.  He gave me a brief tour on Friday morning and I got to see alot of cool stuff.  They are heavy users of RHEL and they appreciated the T-Shirts I gave them and told me I was welcome back any time and we could try and set something up with CS folks at Harvard, which I am very open to doing.

The rest of Friday was spent trying to track down various faculty at Northeastern and talk to them.  The lady who was my main point of contact wasn’t in on Friday and that made it a logistical nightmare.  At the end, I ended up meeting with some of the Associate faculty members and talking to them about the importance of teaching Open Source methodology to incoming students.  They agreed for the most part and were willing to help put something in place at Northeastern.

In summary, Boston is a hot bed of Open Source activity with alot of action going on that needs to be cultivated for proper direction.  Everyone is already using Open Source in some capacity and there are many contributors left and right.  I guess the question that needs to be asked of Boston is how do we kick it up another notch?  I have my ideas… 😉

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