I’ve had a week to think about and listen to the varying feedback around the O’Reilly MySQL and Collaborate conferences. There are many good points in the conversation I’ve been listening to. In particular, Baron Schwarz reminds everyone that the O’Reilly Conference brings together a unique cohort once a year that everyone looks forward to. He’s right. We have a fantastic community and an incredible density at that conference. But, the event doesn’t make the community.
To that end, the company that owns the MySQL trademark doesn’t make the community either. Oracle isn’t the enemy any more than PostgreSQL or Hadoop is. They are a company that is trying to make money. In many many ways, this makes predicting their actions easier than a hybrid altruistic-dogmatic-profit model. Oracle isn’t the community. There is community around Oracle that is part of their ecosystem. There are many organizations that exist around Oracle orbiting the giant hairball (if Gordon MacKenzie will forgive me) and those organizations are the community as are many people who aren’t part of any organization.
Which leads me to the IOUG MySQL Council and the conference conundrum.
The IOUG isn’t Oracle. I think most people know this, but I was still hearing sloppy thinking equating Collaborate with Oracle’s conference. Oracle’s conference is Oracle OpenWorld. That’s it. Oracle is a sponsor of Collaborate just as it (eventually) was a sponsor of the MySQL C&E. The conundrum was two-fold this year.
#1. Oracle told O’Reilly Media that they would not sponsor or support the MySQL C&E on Friday after the 2010 conference (4 days after the acquisition was announced on the keynote stage to a stunned MySQL community) and didn’t reverse this position until very late in the planning cycle
#2. Collaborate and MySQL C&E were scheduled the same week. Because conference venues are often scheduled a year or more in advance, MySQL was only a twinkle in an Oracle lawyer’s eye when these dates were carved into archive.org.
These two factors set up a false competition for speakers, attendees and sponsorship resources.
Mark Callaghan commented on Baron’s blog post, rightly, that Collaborate is an opportunity for the top notch MySQL speakers and talent to speak to a wholly new audience. Just as we shouldn’t be shunning the portions of Oracle’s community that reach out to us, we shouldn’t refuse to talk to individuals and organizations and companies who choose to attend a different conference for the different breadth of content.
Cultural cross-pollination is why I agreed to participate in and eventually to chair the IOUG’s MySQL Council. I feel the Council’s charter is still relevant with the larger points being, helping the IOUG design MySQL content and networking opportunities for their membership and offering an umbrella and map to the MySQL community as we learn to navigate the new city-state of Oracle. Since there are 51 more weeks of the year, please take a moment to offer the IOUG MySQL Council some feedback and let us know what the MySQL Community might want from the IOUG. We (collectively) can make MySQL and the entire ecosystem greater by embracing the offers of the Oracle community while still evolving the amazing group and culture we have.
I want the MySQL community to have an event that brings us all together to swap stories, share new tools and techniques, and explore new technologies. The ecosystem is doing well but we are being asked to stretch our definition of community.