Being TYPO3 at Everything Open in Melbourne

Categories: Event Report Created by Mathias Bolt Lesniak
Sae Ra Germaine opening Everything Open 2023. Photo: Mathias Bolt Lesniak (CC-BY)
Report from a three-day conference on open source in Australia’s second largest city.

 Mathias Bolt Lesniak attended Everything Open in Melbourne, Australia, 14–16 March 2023, as part of the Meet TYPO3 initiative. It is a grassroots conference with a focus on open technologies, the community that has built up around this movement, and the values that it represents. Mathias is a member of the TYPO3 Association Board. See upcoming Meet TYPO3 events.

Linux Means Much in Australia

Organized by Linux Australia, the conference was previously called (LCA). Over the years, the topics at the conference broadened to cover much more than just Linux, and the name change illustrates this. It brought in new sponsors and was attractive to a broader audience, who felt more connected to open source in general than Linux specifically.

Maybe Linux Australia also needs a name change? It appears to be a great enabler for open source in general, both in Australia and New Zealand. In fact, both Joomla Australia and the DrupalSouth conference (which I'll be attending in Wellington, New Zealand in May) are organized as Linux Australia sub-committees!

Meeting Michael Schams and Felicity Brand

Being in Melbourne also allowed me to meet two very active local TYPO3 Association members and community contributors, Michael Schams and Felicity Brand. As a TYPO3 Association board member, I find it is important to give attention to those of our members who are far away from most in-person TYPO3 activities. After all, inspiring people is what our community is all about!

Michael Schams moved from Germany to Australia many years ago. He is a regular writer for technical journals and has published several articles and books on Extbase and TYPO3 certification. Michael is also behind the release articles for our CMS. He works with clients around the globe and provides professional TYPO3 and AWS solutions. I met Michael the evening before the conference started, and we had a great chat about life, TYPO3, and cloud-based enterprise hosting.

Felicity Brand is a Melbourne native who got into contact with TYPO3 through her work for Open Stratey Partners (OSP). She was soon helping the Documentation Team and Content Group. You might know her as one of the co-authors of the TYPO3 Guidebook. Apart from TYPO3, Felicity lives for documentation and she’s a steering committee member at the Good Docs Project. Felicity spoke about documentation and project trust signals at Everything Open, and you can watch her presentation on YouTube. We shared lunch during the first day of the conference.

A Conference of Individuals

On the first day, I quickly realized one of the differences between Everything Open and the conferences I usually visit: This was a conference where a large number of the participants come as individuals, representing themselves, rather than their business.

Of the maybe 150 participants, roughly two in three had previously visited LCA. I speculate that the average Linux aficionado is someone working in a tech business, but whose job is not specifically open-source related. That would make their reason for joining the conference entirely personal, which is a strong statement.

The love of open source and focus on open-source values was strongly present at Everything Open. More of the sessions discussed value-based topics compared to TYPO3 or Drupal conferences. I believe values are very important, so this was a welcome experience and something I recommend to other conference organizers.

Some Sessions I Attended

The conference had some 50 sessions covering a very broad range of topics, spanning from model railways to outer space. I focused on the sessions I thought were relevant for TYPO3, as well as meeting people during breaks.

Here’s some especially interesting topics:

  • Mental health. Long-term Linux Australia member Hugh Blemings’ keynote was both a story of the 5000-member strong organization and a very personal journey. Hugh talked about his life, periods of depression, and how he had recently been diagnosed with ADHD. It was a strong story that pointed to the importance of mental health for every individual in a tech community. He also performed a song from the musical Cats a cappella — a definite first-time experience for me. Watch on YouTube
  • Security. Australia has seen a number of security breaches over the last few years. Paul Watters presented a look into a couple of them and how they were handled, before he looked at a way forward using open-source values and ethics. Watch on YouTube
  • Documentation. Our own Felicity Brand made the audience understand how important documentation is for people’s trust in an open-source project. Kudos for using TYPO3 and our Documentation Team as an example. Watch on YouTube
  • Privacy. Geoffrey Huntley gave a popcorn-worthy recap of what went wrong when, “in the midst of a cyber scare, the Australian Government accidentally enabled permanent tracking of people even after they had uninstalled the COVIDSafe application and accidentally enabled remote control of mobile phones whilst it was installed.” Watch on YouTube
  • Open-source business. Contributing to open-source projects should be built into the core of your business. That was the conclusion of Owen Lansbury’s session. Looking at his own company, he explained how they see increased employee retention and how open source contribution is far from a cost to the company. Watch on YouTube
  • Security. Some traditional approaches to security will fall short when your project is open source. Alistair Chapman gave a fast-phased “rundown of all the new and exciting ways that things can go wrong in your security when working in the open.” Watch on YouTube
  • Big tech. Although big tech companies sometimes support open-source, Rebecca Giblin showed how their business models are increasingly monopolizing and exploitative. Rounding off the conference, she showed how open source is a part of the answer. Watch on YouTube

Outside Perspectives

In-person conferences are back, and to me they illustrate how important personal meetings can be. Most of the people I spoke with at the conference had never heard about TYPO3, and hearing their perspectives can teach us a lot about how to tell the TYPO3 story. My Contributor Ticket allowed our logo to be displayed every morning. A good buildup to my three-minute lightning talk about TYPO3’s project in Rwanda during the last hour of the conference.

Covid has put a damper on community contribution world-wide that goes far beyond tech and open source. Rebuilding what was lost takes time and effort. Everything Open would not have been possible without a hard-working group of people who decided that someone had to do it. Especially Melbourne-based on-site organizers Sae Ra Germaine and Joel Addison deserve mention as enablers and a major reason for the conference’s success.

As I headed East and saw the Australian continent give way to the Tasman Sea outside the airplane window, I thought of two things that stood out to me from Everything Open: How open source is indeed something much larger than our own backyard and how important community contribution — and people stepping up — is to its success. Without these two perspectives, we give in to what’s essentially the curse of proprietary solutions. We’re not on this earth to lean back and let others decide for us.

Additional contributors for this article
  • Proofreader : Felicity Brand