The crowd at Betamore for the return of Refresh Baltimore.
In her talk Thursday night on the advantages of open source software, Tracey Halvorsen, president of interactive agency Fastspot, said that while giving credit where it’s due is important, “building collaboratively is more important.”
“I don’t think enterprise software is going to be around in a few years,” Halvorsen said to a crowd of nearly 100 gathered at Betamore.
Halvorsen’s talk marked the return of Refresh Baltimore, a series of events considering interactive design and development, which had been on hiatus since 2011. (As the Refresh website says, “we bring together sharp design and development professionals to learn from each other and build a more prosperous community.”) Now resurrected, Refresh is under the stewardship of the folks at VIM Interactive.
A painter who grew up in Bethesda and came to Baltimore by way of the Maryland Institute College of Art in the late 1990s, Halvorsen’s Refresh talk focused mainly on BigTree, a content management system Fastspot released as open source software in early 2012. Of course, open source content management systems are nothing new (think WordPress, Drupal and others). But releasing BigTree as open source software was a bit more experimental for Halvorsen and Fastspot, not least of all because there’s no charge for open source stuff.
“How is it a good idea to give something away?” she quipped part of the way through her presentation.
For Fastspot, however, releasing BigTree as an open source CMS became an exercise in building a community around a product, in several important respects.
- In 2013, everyone can produce content (blog posts, videos, audio and more). But if everyone can produce something, what’s the measure of quality?
- BigTree, then, was seen as a way to create a quality product while marketing Fastspot’s name.
- As Halvorsen said, Fastspot is hired for its design work. “Getting our software out there was so much more important. The hope is: give BigTree away for free, but people still pay Fastspot to do design work,” she said.
Click the link below to watch Tracey Halvorsen speak at Refresh Baltimore: