Open Source 101 in Soda City

On April 18th Open Source 101 will return to Soda City to host a one-day conference for the second time, brought about by the Office of Economic Development. This places Columbia, SC on par with places like Tokyo, Japan; Paris, France; Brussels, Belgium; Bratislava, Slovakia; Christchurch, New Zealand; Prague, Czech Republic; Boston, MA; Seattle, WA; Chemnitz, Germany - all of which will be holding the conference in 2019. Soda City Influencer got a chance to sit down and discuss this event with Sergio Aparicio, the leading organizer of the conference.

Sergio explained that Open Source is all about collaboration. Open source software invites modification, improvement and innovation as opposed to proprietary software which is closed source - meaning that you cannot make any changes to it and you have to follow a set of strict rules. Closed source software creates challenges which cannot be addressed so easily: for example, a company using closed source software cannot say, “we want to add feature ‘x’ to improve our customer’s experience”. On the other hand, using open source software allows companies to exchange idea, freely collaborate, and customize technology to accommodate all of their needs. The innovation benefits everyone, and the progress of one user may spark further progress of many other users.

Another insurmountable challenge that closed source software users may face is the threat of the disappearance of the vendor. If the provider of the closed source software is forced to go out of business or simply sells their company and their offerings are reduced or eliminated as the result, the users are left to hang out dry - and will not be able to keep using or replicate the software. In contrary, using the open source software allows companies to not only replicate technology, but to adapt it to their specific needs with no threat of having to depend on the business cycles of the software vendors.

Sergio told me that the conference bears high significance to the economic development of the State of South Carolina. With major companies expanding their presence and manufacturing in SC (Volvo, Samsung, Boeing, Capgemini to name just a few), the use of various technology and the need for professionals that are capable of meeting the qualification requirements will only continue to grow. Sergio mentioned that college students who will work on projects involving open source technology will be able to show the results freely of their work and boast collaboration with major companies, whereas working on closed source software as part of their internships is often guarded by strict NDA limitations, often preventing them from mentioning even as much as the name of the company they worked with.

Another reason to celebrate the conference in talent retention in South Carolina. The technology industry field remains extremely competitive, and giving the local professionals and students access to the latest technology breakthroughs and education gives the State - and Columbia, more specifically - a definite competitive edge. The conference participants will have a chance to hear from and interact with such international corporate giants as Twitter, Red Hat, IBM, Microsoft, CapitalOne, The Walt Disney Company and GitHub. Sergio mentioned that over 80% of companies worldwide use open source technology.

The conference will take place on April 18th at the USC Alumni Center, will feature 5 keynote talks, 40+ breakout sessions as well as numerous networking opportunities. The registration is $49 with limited student scholarships available. To register, please go to

Katerina BarrieComment