The track names for Open Source Bridge are a little unusual. No Ruby, Perl, System Administration, Linux—instead we have Cooking, Chemistry, Culture, Hacks (and Business, but you’ve seen that one elsewhere). So what’s going on? How are these relevant to open source software?
When we had our very first planning meeting for the conference, we made a big list of everything we wanted to cover (with colorful commentary—sorry, we were pretty excited).
In the course of the discussion, we realized that if every topic we were excited about had its own track, we would have way too many of them to manage. Also, it would go against one of our core principles: we want to bring people together, not shuffle them off into separate rooms. So we decided to take a different tack, and group the content around how we approach it, not what the underlying technology is.
That’s how we ended up splitting the most technology-heavy topics into three tracks: Cooking, Chemistry, and Hacks. I think they make the most sense if viewed as a group. We learn what to do via cooking, following recipes until we’re able to improvise our own. We learn why it works by studying the chemistry, which lets us see what’s happening at lower levels. Finally, we rewrite the rules by hacking. This isn’t a linear progression; we may jump from one approach to another frequently in the course of our work.
The other two tracks round out the picture. Business is about how we earn a living. Culture is all of the other things we do around our work, like organizing user groups, managing projects, and applying the open source ethos to other areas of our lives.
We arranged these five tracks to cover the full scope of our open source existence. Within them, there’s plenty of room to talk about individual languages and tools, even at the advanced level, but sharing with people from a range of backgrounds. We can all learn much from each other.
Hopefully, this provides a better frame of reference for our tracks. (And now you’ve got even more reason to submit your own proposal.)