On Monday I had attended the star speaker Klaus Knopper's talk at OSI week and came away impressed. Besides the Knoppix project he touched upon the synergy between Free software, OpenSource and propreitary software. I found his approach very balanced and it was interesting to see the way he tackled the Q&A sessions. He had a good grasp of the licensing issues and spoke at length on that during the Q&A, which leapt into overtime by almost 35 minutes so I had to wait until he finished attending another talk to get a chance to meet him.
I was quite surprised when Klaus was gracious enough to allow me to paste an Indichix sticker on his laptop... am touched by his lack of airs.... and to think I wandered into the wrong hall and almost missed meeting him :-) Later I also met Krishnakant Mane and if nothing else we practiced our Marathi and Deutsche and mine is definitely rusty as hell. In the last few months I have even forgotten my Marathi and Hindi....*sigh*. Amidst the six degree friends and chattering, we almost missed another entrepreneurs workshop but walked in towards the end for the Q&A so although I dont know who were the panelists, i did take aways some nuggets of wisdom from there.
On the second day Adriane (Klaus's wife) was to conduct a workshop on accessibility software which she works on with Klaus but that morning she was not feeling well and Klaus conducted it. When he spoke about the technological drawbacks and other social problem areas related to barrier-free websites, I realised the extent to which sighted people like us take such things for granted. The lack of standards is another grouse. Although technology is gaining momentum we are leaving behind a section of the population when we dont build humane and inclusive technology. That gets stronger for hardware, especially the portable kind which manufacturers dont care much about. So whether its a camera, phone, laptop or any other other portable device we, as a paying customer have a right to ask for free software based technology. It was interesting and also sad to note that the Indian government has not made it a mandatory for sites to be accessibility-friendly unlike the EU where its a law. Hmpf... we hardly even have government websites that are Firefox-friendly so accessibility is such a loooong way off. As far as our government is considered such things are miniscule, hence not worthy of attention.