James Governor's Monkchips

Sustaining Craft – quick roundup on Apache, BTC, Pineapple, IBM mainframes and FutureGov

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When you’re curating a conference you tend to see everything through the lens of that event. At the moment I am in full Monki Gras mode. The conference is on the 1st and 2nd of February 2018 in Shoreditch, London. The theme is Sustaining Craft. Where last year we examined packaging, convenience and disposability, this year we wanted to focus on building things to last, and making them sustainable. Who maintains the maintainers? How can we ensure that skills are passed on, and that people and infrastructure are effectively supported and invested in?

We have talks from Pia Mancini, cofounder of The Open Collective, and Luis Vila, cofounder of Tidelift – both young organisations dedicated to open source sustainability. You need to remember that outside the major corporate sponsored projects there are a lot of poorly funded pieces of critical infrastructure, with people giving up an often unhealthy amount of their time to support other people for free. The traditional open source foundations are an important part of sustaining open source infrastructure, but new support and governance mechanisms are also needed.

While the current bitcoin mania seems pretty much the definition of unsustainable we did see some very interesting news this week. The Apache Software Foundation received a $1m bitcoin donation from Pineapple Fund. What’s Pineapple Fund? A fund with 5500 BTC to donate to charities – that is around $86m according to current valuations. Pretty amazing really. Someone bought some bitcoin early, and is now giving it away.

In other news about Sustaining Craft – one of the platforms I always think of when I think of long term viability and maintainability is the IBM mainframe. It’s a really amazing story. IBM invests directly in university programs today, for example, to ensure there is still a stream of new graduates with much needed sysprog skills. You can now run all the latest open source middleware on IBM zLinux, which will definitely help with longevity. So yesterday IBM turned in pretty decent financial results – mainframe revenues made a major contribution, up 70% in the last quarter. Yes – that’s Seven Zero.

And finally I just wanted to give a bit shout out to FutureGov – what an incredible story. An important aspect of Sustaining Craft is of course creating sustainable companies, and Dominic Campbell and Carrie Bishop did just that with FutureGov, a consultancy that drives the latest digital approaches and design thinking into local authority service provision. It was doing digital transformation before it was a thing. Now 10 years old, FutureGov heralded the change we’ve seen from organisations like Government Digital Service and United States Digital Service. Well done all – here’s to the next 10 years.

Anyway, if you’re interested in Sustaining Craft, and want to know what making jeans in Walthamstow has to do with live coding PDFs then buy your ticket here.



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