First impressions from Siggraph 2011

My very first impression was: huge. That really IS a conference. Almost 10.000 attendees, speakers and student volunteers! And Vancouver perfectly suits to that kind of crowd, especially while being the second most loved city by west coast animation film-makers. All kinds of artists, creatives, nerds, sysadmins (yes, they even have their own BOF sessions here!), managers and production executives seem to inhabit Downtown Vancouver these days. Though they may be very different, they all have at least one thing in common: the “nVidia-Green” badge by the main sponsor ;-)

What a nice location!

What a nice location!

A word on keynote sessions at conferences like Siggraph. They always have the power to either let you fall asleep or bring out the very most enthusiasm about yourself and what your everyday’s work is. Neither of those happened this year, because the speaker – the author Cory Doctorow – spoke about a very important topic in the creative industries: copyright laws.
Though I already knew some of his thoughts (and of course they are not new at all), he managed to let the crowd feel, what they’re problem really is. Companies like Apple (he didn’t want to pinpoint everything on Apple but almost did so anyhow…) follow a DRM policy that in the end he claimed as “you give them your property, they put a lock on it, but do not give you the key”. I think no one who ever tried to listen to a song which was purchased legally on iTunes NOT on iTunes but another distribution system will disagree. The artist however has no chance of giving you the right to do so – only Apple does. Of course not only Apple wants to earn money, but the artist, developer or writer too and they need distribution ways like iTunes.

Inside the conference center

Inside the conference center

I pretty much liked the way he was giving the speech and – he did not talk about “good” and “evil”, he moreover tried to convince the people to think of new models for DRM. In the end he had no solution to the problem at all, but gave some nice thoughts to go out and “ask the right questions” (american way of talking). And this is what keynote sessions are all about, right?

Oh, of course there’s always something bad you recognize right from the start. This time it’s the air conditioning system. It’s way too cold! If I want to warm out, I’d rather go outside – and this is Canada!

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