As is always the case this was the best Kohacon yet. Dublin is a fantastic city and the hospitality of Interleaf, PTFS Europe and the Dublin Business School is second to none.
The conference was held at the Dublin Business School, who are big champions of open source and open access. The school uses Koha, Moodle, Shibboleth, eprints (and I think others I have forgotten). It was spread over 5 days, 2 of presentations, 2 of workshops, and one day of cultural activities.
The talks were uniformly excellent, covering a wide range of topics, from Business analysis to migration stories. One of my favourites was Marcel giving the best non technical talk about containers (docker mainly) I’ve ever seen.
The workshops were also well received, with my favourite being the one on plugins.
But the best part was again the people. Kohacon are about kanohi ki te kanohi, about restrengthening bonds and creating new ones. It’s vitally important that online communities make the most of any in person time they can.
And because it’s me I’m going to finish with food photos.
As always this was the best Kohacon yet, I will write up a more technical post over on the work site but I wanted to write up a more personal one over here.
Kohacons are different to any other conferences I have attended, it feels less like a conference and more like a reunion. One of the other attendees remarked that there was a certain something that he couldn’t put his finger on. I replied that I thought it was whanaungatanga. And I really think that is what it is. The conference has a really great gender balance, and there were attendees from Pakistan, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Kenya, Guyana, Mexico, France, Canada, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and of course USA. But despite our many differences, new friendships were quickly made and old friendships renewed.
Before the conference had even started people who had never met each other before drove off to look at Mt St Helens together. Others went to the zoo, others to the beach. Every night communal meals were organised, and over breakfast tales shared of the night before. One of the traditions we have is a day between the conference proper and the hackfest after where we all do something together. This year there were walking tours, jet boat rides, tours of Powells bookshop and tours of the Japanese gardens. Another of our tradition is sharing treats from all around the world at the hackfest.
This eating, drinking and talking together is the best part of the conference, it builds bonds that, even when we return home and are 1000s of kilometres apart, are still strong. When people ask how we manage to coordinate development across language and cultural differences, spending time kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) is how. Spending the time to whakawhanaungatanga with each other might not seem important at first glance, but it is what has kept the project strong and getting stronger for 18 years now. If anyone ever says there’s no time for mihimihi or whakawhanuangatanga, I think they are missing out, and are weakening whatever they are endeavouring to achieve
Chicken and tortilla soup, and a crab and shrimp sandwich
Sous vide ribeye
A “small” salad
Dirty fries (mushroom, beer cheese and jalapeno)
Cuba libre slushy
Heirloom tomato pizza
3 cheese, mushrooms and truffle oil pizza
Biscuit and sausage gravy
A ‘brewben’ and tots
What it says on the packet
Lobster and shrimp enchiladas
Buffalo chicken mac and cheese (and tots)
A vodka drinking board
Burger and tots
Another burger and totsWings
David Nind is one of a kind. Neither he nor the organisation he works for use Koha, but he has been active in the community for many many years. He helps with maintaining the wiki, running the twitter account, answering many many emails on the mailing list, attending user groups and so much more. The work he does has been incredibly valuable and is a major part of the success of Koha.
Not only does Joy describe Bibframe by using the ontology of Tutu, but she probably currently knows the most about data migrations to Koha. This would be neat in itself, but she never hesitates to share this knowledge by answering questions on the mailing lists, attending and speaking at Kohacons, and participating on IRC.
Joy is a person of great integrity and she brings that to her work on Koha. The community and the project are lucky to have her.
I have never met Josef, but according to git it has been 685 days since his first patch was accepted into the Koha code base. He now has 42 patches with a total of nearly 3000 lines changed, which in itself is a great achievement. But even more importantly, Josef is a committed tester. He is currently leading the number of sign offs for April, and is second only to Marc Véron (unsung hero number 31) in terms of sign offs for 2017.
Jo Ransom met Josef in the Czech Republic while on her Koha world tour and speaks highly of him. If I have this correctly he works for a University that has been using Koha for quite a few years now. It is so great to see users becoming contributors also.
As most of you will know I have been working on Koha since 1999. Most of you will also know that without others at the beginning like Rachel, Simon, Olwen, Rosalie and Jo Koha would simply not exist. What people people might not be aware of though is that the one person who has been with me throughout the whole 18 years, that Koha has been worked on, is my wife Laurel.
She wasn’t my wife when I started in fact we had only recently met. But the stories of my Koha journey are intertwined with my relationship with Laurel. Without her constant support I would have given up a long time ago. A few years ago I wrote an unsung heroes of Koha post about Laurel.
Without her support I would never have been to travel the places I have, do the work on Koha I do in the weekends and evenings and so much more.
All of this is a long lead in to say that now Laurel needs your help (only if you are in a position where you can of course). Laurel is an art educator and an artist. Neither of which, unless you are incredibly fortunate, are careers that provide much in the way of financial rewards.
Laurel has battled a lot of health problems throughout her life and her art is one way she deals with it. She is currently working on 2 shows to exhibit
And is currently fundraising to cover a small part of the costs. We’d love to be able to cover the costs ourselves but unfortunately we can’t. So if you want to help Laurel out (and be part of making some fantastic art) which indirectly helps me out, which indirectly helps Koha out, please do. And if you don’t we’re still friends 🙂
Sofia Zapounidou followed Georgia’s talk, Georgia had made a fantastic case for the need for people to collaborate. So Sofia followed it up with the how this might happen.
They looked at the other local user groups around the world and what they did. Then they tried to find out what other libraries in Greece are using Koha, there are much more than people know about. They did a survey of these libraries to find out what people wanted to do