Open Source Health Software Conference

So I have two small news items.

First, I am renaming the yearly Houston Open Source Conference from fosshealth to OSHealthCon, which just stands for Open Source Health Software Conference. Why the name change? Well, it is caused by the need for me to distance myself from the term “free”. I know what “free” means when you are talking about software, but again and again, the term is abused by people with a proprietary agenda.

People would talk about the differences between “free software” vs “commercial software” implicitly insulting any professional who wants to use freedom-respecting licenses.So I am throwing in the towel. I am not going to fight this battle any more. At some point, I have to decide if I am going to advocate for freedom, or for one particular way of talking about freedom.

The other important news item is that I have started posting the 09 Videos up to www.OSHealthCon.com.

This is our first stab at videoing our own conference, and the results are just as amateurish as you might expect. Still, if you can tolerate the sound, there is a tremendous amount of insight available there.

I will be posting new videos there as I sort out how to make blip.tv transcoding work on GNU/Linux.

-FT

Health of the Source

I pretty regularly give a talk entitled “The health of the source”. The subject of the talk is everything that has happened in health FOSS, since the last time I gave the talk. Thankfully things move along fast enough that I am never short of content. You will find this article dripping with useful bias and opinion. This is not merely a list of projects but also what I think of the projects. I might be omitting your favorite project intentionally, because I think it is irrelevant, OR out of ignorance, OR because I am limiting the scope. For instance this time I did not include much on clinical research (openclinica) or imaging, since my TEPR audience might not be interested in those.

This intended to reference Larry Walls regular summary of the perl community typically entitled “state of the onion“. (I am suffering from pun envy here… if you have something better… let me know) As I was writing yet another throw-away Open Office presentation, I was lamenting the fact that I had not posted anything really meaty on my blog lately, and I thought I should post my presentation. Then I was thinking how each page of my presentation would really serve as a blog post by itself. Then I realized that I could write one blog post, and if I kept each page short enough to fit above the fold on my little laptop, I could make a postentation. ( <- just invented this word)

So if you would like, you can now read my latest presentation just by clicking on the page numbers on this post. Hopefully it is coherent enough to read without me talking about each slide. But if not, leave me a comment and I will try and fix things.

Credit where it is due

I use this forum to grip quite a bit. When someone does something silly or stupid, I do not hesitate to blast them. It is only fitting that when someone does something right, they get equal time for praise.

Skip McGaughey and his new group the Open Health Tools seem to qualify. Here is what they have done right:

  • They have some of the most important players already committed to the movement, including Eclipse, IBM, Red Hat and the VA.
  • They are posting the minutes to their meetings on the web, demonstrating a commitment to openness.
  • They already have a good FAQ which is complete enough to include some of their thoughts on licensing. Again, openness.
  • They are posting detailed information about their initial project.
  • Skip already has credibility in the community because of his participation within Eclipse community.
  • The particpants in may cases are already releasing substantial health code-bases, so the group has lots of “doers”.

Its not often that I can recommend someone out of the gate, but so far it appears that the Open Health Tools group is firing on all cylinders. They only thing left to do is make new, relevant, and usable code that gets deployed in real clinical environments.

Modern Healthcare interpreted my reaction to the groups announcement as “skeptical“, which I would probably rephrase as “hopeful”. (The problem with generally being skeptical is that even your hope can come across as negative….)

But who cares what I have to say? Dana Blankenhorn already has an interview with Skip McGaughey up, and it is definitely worth a read!!

-FT