2 days after the Open Everything Hong Kong event, I’ve finally recovered the usage of my brain! 😀 Last week, besides working with my pals from Hong Kong Drupal User Group on rebuilding our venue provider, SOHOlife‘s website, I also had to prepare a presentation about it (and just Drupal in general), and another presentation on Flickr, I want to help spread Flickr in the HK Chinese community. (Also caught a bad cold too, but took antibiotics immediate to fix it before Saturday hits.)
The venue was a big headache for us too! Originally, I hooked up SOHOlife with HKDUG so we can have a place to hold physical monthly meetings and a free online space to put up a Drupal “sandbox”, in return, we’ll rebuild their website with Drupal for free. John volunteered to help if SOHOlife can also host his Open Everything event, so I talked to my friend at SOHOlife again, brought John to check out the place on the next Monday and got the whole deal rolling. There was only 3 weeks left to the event so it was a huge win! Unfortunately, the next week when a few of us went to work on the website at SOHOlife’s office, we realized that their rooms were kinda small and the internet connection was kinda slow!
That raised an alarm for John and he started looking for alternatives. We were still checking out other possibilities on the Thursday – 2 days before the event. We went to the University of Hong Kong, where Creative Common HK‘s Haggen So helped provided 3 separated classrooms in 2 buildings. With more than 50 people signed up for the event, John thought it was necessary to move the event to HKU. In the end however, it proved too hard to change a venue in the last minute! We were pretty worried in the morning of the event! As 20 more people signed up in the last minute! But here’re some tips for you if you’re planning an event.
- Not everyone who signed up will come – expect 50 ~ 70% turn out rate.
- It’s OK to have a smaller venue and be slightly overcrowded, people can manage sitting on the floor and standing outside the door. This is better than having a big venue but not be able to fill it up, that would look bad.
- It’s important to “trap” your guests, it’s best to have a lounge area connecting the rooms and the exit. When people gathers, it makes them less likely to leave.
- Location must be easy to get to, food and drinks must be provided so they don’t have to go out when hungry.
Then Friday night, with my 2 presentations still unfinished, John took me and my friend Piet to a unicycle hockey thing that they do every Friday! My 1st time trying unicycling… was a lot harder than I’d imagine!! I had a blast but I kicked the inside of my ankle real bad, I was limping the whole Saturday!
So, people slowly trickled in around 10 am, and we began with John giving an opening speech and CCHK’s Haggen spoke about “Why open is good”. We only had around 20’ish people at that time and John was a little disappointed at the turn out, but more people and more people came in as time goes by. The planning session was rather quick and the spots were filled out fairly quickly.
All the talks were video / audio recorded by Open Radio HK, I’ll update this post with their links when they’re available. Ideally, the wiki should also have details about each sessions. Like me, I live-blogged about Couch Surfing and Retrospectives (an Agile Management method by Agile HK’s Conrad Benham).
Then I did my talk on Flickr, it was kinda sad… only 5 people came to listen at first, I think a couple more came in mid presentation), but it was still nice… I prepared to present it in Cantonese so the recordings can be listened to by the locals online, the slides are also shared from my GDocs account, so hopefully, it will help teach some people how to easily manage their photos with Picasa + picasa2flickr + Flickr + Firefox (specially using Greasemonkey to extend flickr).
The few that came already were avid users of Flickr and were quite interested in learning about extending Flickr with Greasemonkey. After the session, they came to ask me for more tips and other add-ons that I use. They also gave a few complaints mainly in regards to the low limits on free accounts and difficulty with tagging. I told them to post on the Hong Kong group and Emily, our Flickr contact, will address them. I also gave away all my Flickr swags, the badges and lens cleaning cloths were really popular, I only have some stickers left now.
Lunch time! Thanks for CCHK for providing lunch!
Then it’s our HKDUG’s presentation on Drupal and the rebuilding of SOHOlife.hk. This had more turn out than my Flickr one, it went rather smoothly except for the little mishap with my Firefox “awesome bar”… let’s just say I didn’t feel too awesome at that moment… LOL 😛 (so here’s another tip, if u’re doing a presentation, remember to clear your history before hooking up to the big projector!) 😉
The highlight of the event for me was Val‘s talk on Open Public Information. Val brought to our attention a little known fact that public information collected by the Hong Kong government, supposedly free for all HK citizens, are actually NOT freely available to the Hong Kong public. So, HK people can submit requests for such data, but if the government decided that they don’t want to release the info, they legally don’t have to and the people can do nothing about it!
This is an outrage! It should be a citizen’s right to access such data that were gathered by the government using the taxpayers’ money! What’s more outrageous is that not only the typical European countries all open their info, Taiwan, which is known for their openness, and even mainland China had signed on to open up government info! The ignorance of the typical HK citizen in regards to their rights is rather appalling.
What I found really ironic though, was that during the same session, in the last minute, someone had started a session out in the lounge area called “Financial Crisis”… I’m not sure how this related to “Open Everything”, but it proved very popular among the local HK’ers. (In fact, this spanned 2 sessions!) I don’t know if anything positive or productive came out of their session, but I think this is a good example of Hong Kong’s overly heavy dependency on the Financial industry, and Hong Kong people’s typical shortsightedness on “business and money”. Val had given some great examples on how European and Taiwanese governments, by opening and putting their cultural and governmental data online, people are able to identify gaps in their societies and create new businesses to fill in these gaps, thus creating a new economy and new jobs. Arrgh!! I have to stop… these kind of issues really get my blood boiling!!! FV$K!!!!
Anyway, I think this also illustrates one thing. When we were in the organizing stages of this event, we had a goal of promoting openness, spreading knowledge and hoping to motivate people into action. We were expecting talks about education, art and technology… but it turns out political issues are probably the hottest topic in openness. (So things that you didn’t know and never expected would come into sight as you walk a new path.) This goes to show that as you aim to do good in this world, you begin to meet new people and learn new things… eventually, new opportunities open up in front of your eyes that you would’ve NEVER known if you just narrowly live your lives, earning a salary from a job or struggling to run a tiny business hoping to get rich.
The event ended with a video conference with Open Everything Berlin, and then headed for a drink + dinner at an Irish pub.
My leg was hurting too much so I opted out and went home, turned off my brain, took a shower and watched the movie “Jumper“. (Perfect movie to watch when you have no brain activities!) 🙂