It is difficult to believe that Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 is already over. We spent 9 intense days in Montreal to work, talk, meet, present, cook, interview, listen and cross the city by bike. The meeting provoked many discussions about the future of Libre Graphics so we decided to write this report in the form of a dialogue (but we took trains and airplanes to different cities at different times, so it turned out more like a collage).
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caption="Happy to find Ana, Ricardo, Eric and sometimes ginger around
[john] This year was my second Libre Graphics Meeting, with the first being last year in Brussels, so I only have the two experiences to contrast. I've never been to Montreal before other than through the airport, so the place was fresh for me but I can only imagine what it was like for some who have been here at other LGMs during the many times it was hosted here.
[ludi] At pre-LGM I discovered Toonloop, a spontaneous stop motion
In 30 mn, we managed to build a full color animated title.
It was awesome to see the Singer machines collection.
The Open Clip Art Famous People category grew not that bad and Spiro made Eric organic.
Yes ! Starting with practicing together is a really good entry.
[femke] Just like in 2007 and 2009, the meeting took place in the Ecole Polytechnique. The campus is located on Mont Royal, half an hour by Metro or bike from the city centre. The journey from the front door to the actual meeting room includes several escalators, traversing vast orange, green and drab pink hallways. For food and coffee there are four cafeterias spread over different floors plus vending machines and racks of sweet-dispensers (25c for a fistful of artificial coloring). The many cork-board display-units placed around the the work spaces across the main hall remained unused apart from our rather uninspired re-play of the poster exhibition earlier in StudioXX. The view from the 6th floor is breathtaking.
[ludi] Under the pretext of an iron transfer, on Monday we get to visit the Biodome with Tom Lechner. The most interesting part of the dome is the view from the outside. Walking around the building you discover the decor's backside, composed by tubes, aeration, lights supports - structures of micros worlds populated by fake stones and trees and decorated with real animals. 2 days later we find back the famous rodent laid out in Laidout.
[femke] Each year I come home from LGM convinced that bringing
designers and developers around the table is not only necessary, but
that it is very special and inspiring too. My enthusiasm for an occasion
to work together on the Libre tools we share, has obviously grown
stronger through the practice we developed as OSP in parallel.
But also every year it is harder to accept that the community seems to miss the opportunity to push for that potential while in the mean time our expectations of LGM (and of the Libre tools it showcases), have grown and expanded. I think this year I started to run out of patience.
[femke] Maybe LGM has always been a happy accident that I am taking too serious. The start of the Libre Graphics Research Unit obviously addresses this but I am curious what other people in the audience thought.
[john] This brings up the concept of 'vibe', that ethereal but ever-important quality that can and does make or break events. The metaphor I kept coming back to, trying to explain it to people at the party on the last night, was of being trapped in the ribcage of a dead horse. This is really different than the feeling of last year, where I was completely invigorated to be in a packed audience almost all of whom were running GNU/Linux. Last year I felt like I was in the midst of a vibrant scene buzzing with energy. This year the vibe was, well, just about the opposite.
[femke] There was energy in the room, also this year, even with a smaller group of attendants. But it felt undernourished and much of it dispersed. The actual stuff of the meeting (practitioners of different persuasion spending time together to figure out what matters for them in the tools they use and develop) seemed taken for granted and so glue was missing. Or were we missing Alexandre Prokoudine?
[ludi] Parallel talks, the interviews and the meetings we've been searching for were each time enlightening. Thank you Tom, Claudia, Asheesh.
[ludi] The big group picture needs to be recomposed.
See Tom Lechner sketches.
[femke] I missed the W3C.
[john] Dispersement.. You mentioned the location of the venue, its distance from downtown. For me this meant that dispersion was inevitable. When talking with someone who has chosen to stay near the conference--usually a soundly reasonable decision to make on attending a multiday event in a new city--on the long way down the escalators to the entrance, how do you continue the conversation once you have actually reached the doors? For instance, the nearest restaurants are a 20 minute walk. The venue could have been advertised with a slogan, "Dispersement inside."
[ludi] We could/should have taken the mic and say H E Y.
[ludi] When we dicussed with Erin Manning on Saterday, she blowed up an idea SenseLAB practised at an event some times ago, distributing oranges to the audience so that they had to get off their laptop to peel it.
[femke] notes: sharing flight money -- \$25 media projects -- subtle activism -- destruct things not people / things and people -- no routine house -- free radicals -- can we afford to waste our time? -- breaking habits -- collaborate not because we like each other -- flexible collective economy -- obligation to the project, not the people -- oranges.
[john] This year highlighted specific things I'd love to see in the future: More designers, more artists, more outreach. More design, more art, more inner exploration. Active interventions, loud crazy parties and quietly (or not) exuberant after-day conversations in cafes found side by side to the venue.
[ludi] At the dinner/party on Friday evening, John emptied the clip rapping on Libre rhymes.
[femke] Remember we talked to Michael Terry in 2008 about the possibility of connecting 'ingimp' data to it's manual? Three years later he and his team have come up with amazing 'adaptable gimp' which does exactly that, plus takes on the interface itself. Interesting to think what data this new software can produce and than what they will do next in a few years.
[ludi] I recharged my Libre batteries and have made great meetings and reunions but about the event itself I feel a bit like a firecracker who took on water.
[pierre] Shared feelings. All in all I guess a rather decent conference, good talks, good projects. On the side of the meetings I felt something was missing, or not as high as it could have been.
[john] Considering the fact that I saw presentations on a set of tools and approaches that, if successfully integrated, signal real innovative developments emerging from the libre graphics community, there didn't seem to be quite enough fireworks :)
If I started listing all the cool things I saw, we would be here all night. Suffice it to say, this LGM felt like mostly potential and without full realization. But hey, we use libre software everyday: that means we should be used to it by now.