GNOME.Asia was a tremendous success!

I just got back from GNOME.Asia. Emily Chen (and a host of volunteers) put together GNOME.Asia to foster and grow the GNOME community in Asia. It was a great event – definitely the first in an annual tradition.

What was the conference like? There was tremendous energy. There were lots of talks – keynotes in the morning and four tracks in the afternoon. I understood most of the keynotes and a few of the presentations, but I was glad to see a lot of talks in Chinese. (Most of the audience was Chinese.) Each of the speakers drew a few questions after their talk, but they were also approached a lot during the conference on a one to one basis. During the conference I was asked diverse questions from how to find a job in open source, to how to get started in GNOME, to why I was concerned about women in GNOME, to what I thought of Linux on the desktop, to our relationship with KDE, to how I liked China, to how a company could sponsor GNOME.

Thanks to all the sponsors who helped make the conference a success: Sun, Nokia, Motorola, Mozilla, Red Hat, Google, Lemote, Csdn.net, and Programmer. They also provided gifts for the “Lucky Draw” at the end of every day
where cell phones and laptops were handed out to lots of applause.

The volunteers were great. I believe a special thank you goes to the Beijing LUG (BLUG) as well as the volunteers that helped out with the web pages and logo. The first day people showed up before the venue opened (two hours before the talks) and when they saw people setting up, they jumped in and helped! (Emily equated that to the 10% of Beijing’s  population that helped out with the Olympics last summer.)

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None of this would have happened without Emily Chen from Sun. Although she credits Quim Gil with having the idea for a GNOME.Asia, Emily gets my respect for pulling off the planning of a large event without a hitch. I first met Emily at GUADEC where she already had her plan for GNOME.Asia all laid out. She found sponsors, she found local speakers,
international speakers, a venue, attendees – especially involving local university students, and most importantly she inspired and motivated the volunteers. With her coordination and volunteers, the conference went smoothly – good venue, good press, wireless coverage was good (always important at a technical event), great volunteers, good speakers, tremendous enthusiasm … give Emily a round of applause!

I should mention that Emily even put together entertainment for speakers and volunteers – a dinner at a traditional Chinese tea house with a show, as well as a sightseeing trip to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs for the
speakers! Pockey, a volunteer from BLUG, went along as our guide.

The conference was well attended, with more people on the first day than the second day. I believe there were 500+ registrations – we’re still waiting on a count of how many attendees. Most attendees were Chinese but I also met people from Finland, France, United States, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

I believe every year the international aspect, especially the Asian representation, will increase. I’m looking forward to seeing who puts in bids for GNOME.Asia 2009, (The Beijing team was so jazzed, they volunteered to do it again!)

I also got to meet the Sun and Motorola GNOME teams located in China. Everybody I talked to agreed that meeting people face to face, even if it’s only once a year, really fosters relationships throughout the whole year.

Here’s to a successful GNOME.Asia 2008! I’m already looking forward to GNOME.Asia 2009!

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