July 2, 2017 Silva 0Comment

I decided a few months ago that I would dedicate my first blog post to OSCAL 2017, a bit later than I planned but yeah, this moment has arrived, OSCAL is over and I’m finally sitting to write on my experience. A bit happy and sad at the same time. Happy because it was a great edition, a group of very awesome speakers joined us for a very extensive and productive weekend, and I think we managed to share pretty well our ideology and what our community of Open Labs Hackerspace has been promoting for the last 5 years with hundreds of local events. Also sad, because all of this has come to an end. 

OSCAL stands for Open Source Conference Albania, an annual conference fully dedicated to open source software, free culture, online privacy, open knowledge etc. One of the biggest conferences in the region dedicated to free software. The conference took place on 13 & 14 of May 2017, and it was organized on volunteer basis by community members of Open Labs Hackerspace. This was the fourth edition of the conference and I feel very lucky for having been part of all this.

I was very excited especially a few moths before the conference when all the stuff was getting a bit intensive but I was also very aware that many cool stuff were about to come. You can also see my dinosaurs excitement in this tweet 😉

We started organizing the  whole thing almost one year ago, and apparently time flies so fast since I can still remember pretty well most of the first meting. 
We were a group of 14 people, all very enthusiastic to organize one of the biggest conferences in the region dedicated to free software and in the same time very challenged since it was quite a responsibility. The weeks went by pretty fast and all the efforts we put on more than 40 weekly meeting and all the other hours spent online resulted in OSCAL 2017, a weekend with tens of talks, workshops, local meetups, where more than 60 speakers, most of them came from different countries all around the world. We had an awesome team of 40 volunteers and 300 hundred participants who joined us to enjoy all this.
Group photo with almost all the participants of OSCAL 2017
Group photo with almost all the participants of OSCAL 2017

One of the things that I liked the most on this edition of OSCAL was the slogan “Internet of People”, a recall for all of us that people come first and technology should only be developed with that in mind. We had a very cool design and and promo materials like posters and tote bags printed out with the silk screening method,  which were offered to the people who helped us by getting supporter tickets whom I would also like to thank via this blog post. 

Something else we had the chance to enjoy during this edition was a very nice city tour on Monday morning with our speakers of the conference. There was a bunch of almost 20 of us who went around some of the most important monuments on the city and got lots of details and information about Tirana, which I have to admit, it was good for me too 😀 

This experience helped me realize a few things: this kind of events have a great impact in the country where they are taking place, especially in a country like ours where such events came much later in time compared to other countries. All of the participants could get their access for free and follow the talks and workshops of very experienced people in the world of technology, and this is one of the very few events in Albania who offers you that. This can be a very transforming experience because it introduces you with a new way of thinking and looking at the technology, the way we use it and how to take the best from it. We already see the effects of this when people who attended OSCAL join our small events at the hackerspace or when the volunteers are willing to help organizing the next edition. The more people get in touch with the free software world, the more I’m convinced that OSCAL is worth every effort and every hour of our time that we’ve put on it. When someone decides to try the Linux distro CD he/she got at an info booth, or when someone decides to help edit Wikipedia or Open Street Map, and someone else is more aware of privacy issues and online privacy, we have already reached our purpose and given a big contribution to our country and the society in general, by spreading the free software spirit. I hope to see more often these positive side effects of OSCAL and by saying this I would also like to thank everyone who helped us make this possible.

Here I’m sharing some of my favorite photos from meetups, workshops, info booths taken with volunteers, co-organizers and friends.

OSCAL 2017 organizers team

 

OSCAL 2017 – Volunteers Group Photo

 

A photo taken after the LibreOffice meetup
A photo taken after the LibreOffice meetup

 

A photo taken from the infobooths
A photo taken from the info booths

All of the photos are taken by Andis Rado and are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike.

You can find all the photos in this link.

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