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Open Hardware Summit

The Open Hardware Summit is becoming my favorite event of the year. It’s a great cross-section of what people are doing with hardware. I had submitted a talk about ethics and labor in computing, but the talk was rejected. I didn’t feel bad about it because I was confident that the organizers would pick a good mix of speakers this year. I was completely right! The keynote this year was given by Eben Moglen who stressed to us the importance of open hardware and software as a means to help our communities and as a potential tactic in unfolding capitalism. This spirit seemed to continue through the conference, although not completely since the OSHWA membership is largely pro-capitalist.

Around the conference I got to meet Don’s friends from ITP Summer Camp. Everyone from that group is doing interesting things. I got to talk about Nintendo stuff, as I did a Nintendo-themed art piece earlier this year. Jonathan Dehan showed me his work in helping people make their own ROM hacks of Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros Clouds

The big lesson this year was learning how to be tactful. I ran into my ex-employer a lot, which was awkward, so I had to pull up a lot of courage to even address it and apologize for being rowdy previously. I had hoped for an apology from him, but I realize that it will never happen and I had to be the better person. I think I grew a bit personally.

I was most excited about the women’s dinner that followed the summit. I am not usually one to go to all-women’s events but considering that most of the organizers and key players of the open hardware movement are women, I thought I’d go. I’m glad I did! I had so many wonderful conversations with everyone. It was actually very comfortable to finally talk shop without the weird overhead and baggage that can come from being in a mixed space. I met a friend’s roommate by accident who told me about PCBmodE. I also met Erin aka RobotGrrl who suggested I try out gEDA. I got to talk to people who were going to China to see how the work conditions are, and I talked to other artist-hackers. Overall I had a really positive experience this year.

See all my snapshots on Flickr!

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