Once a year I let some time pass from the Evergreen Conference before I try to capture my thoughts about it. Finding myself in a contemplative mood this evening I finally decided to do it.
What should I write about? The NC Cardinal folks did a great job, it’s an insane amount of work and they tackled it well. There were a lot of great presentations. The hospitality staff running the meeting rooms at the Sheraton were wonderful. The Resistance was the game of the conference and I had a great time playing it. As a member of the response team I was heartened that I was unneeded. Honestly, I’ve been to far larger library events where they should make a model of the balanced, relaxed environment and professionalism of the Evergreen conference. I had a great time meeting new folks at breakfasts and dinners.
My SQL pre-conference workshop went well. One person told me that I really helped them with things they had struggled with. Another told me they used the notes from my workshop last year during the entire intervening year. Being told things like that make all the work worth it.
My statistics heavy presentation went well and I think I kept everyone awake even though by the end I had created more questions than I had answered. I showed some clear relationships and likelihood of predictability of data if we can get enough data sets to compare and account for the variables influencing holds. I think the data also clearly shows the value of sharing materials in a consortium. I have a dozen thoughts on this that will be their own blog post at some point.
The biggest thing that stands out thinking back on it though is the lack of surprises. In the early days of the Evergreen Conference I never quite felt like I knew what to expect. Enthusiasm and passion for Evergreen are as strong now as they were at the very first Evergreen Conference but things have changed. In the early days of the conference we had presentations about things like “How We Made Evergreen Work For Us.” I stood at the front of the room doing a few of those myself. Those are long gone. The experiences, the presentations they reflect, for lack of a better term, are matured. So has Evergreen. So has the community.
We don’t have everything figured out but we’re not trying to figure out if we can manage the challenges either.
This weighs heavily on my thoughts because I saw an article that implied that open source software isn’t as mature as proprietary solutions. I feel like the assumptions implicit were numerous and would take more time than I have here to deconstruct but again, might be a good future blog post or article.
Obviously, the perception of non-users of the software and non-members of the community doesn’t sync up with that of those who do use it and are members of the community. I’m not saying my feelings are universal but upon talking to others I know they are widely shared. So, why?
I believe Evergreen falls into a common pattern of technologies maturing. Indeed, open source itself does. Open source is a development methodology but it’s also a shared platform of technologies that build upon each other in chaotic way more akin to natural selection than design. Why can people who see the adoption and maturation patterns of something like DVD players can’t see that it isn’t that different for software? I don’t know. Much like my consortial data presentation I feel like I’m leaving this with more questions created than I’ve answered but maybe that’s a good sign that I’m on the right path.