Last updated on October 10, 2023
Between now and the opening of All Things Open 2023 on October 15, which will begin the conference’s second decade, FOSS Force is each day taking a look at an individual year in ATO’s history. In today’s article we’re looking at All Things Open 2016, which was the conference’s fourth outing.
The 2016 All Things Open T-Shirt
A few days ago, when we did our write-up for the very first All Things Open in 2016, we told you we didn’t have a T-shirt for that year and that we also didn’t have one for one other year. Well, welcome to 2016, which is the other year in which we somehow didn’t foresee that we needed to archive an All Things Open T-shirt for posterity. Silly us. We should’ve known.
So, here’s a picture of something else for you to enjoy:
That’s not just a randomly selected photograph, by the way. If you’ll notice, that’s Jim Whitehurst, who by October 2016 had been CEO at Red Hat for the better part of nine years. In the pic, he’s at an ATO 2016 book signing, and the book he’s signing, naturally, is The Open Organization which was released about a year before this photo was taken.
That’s important to understanding the next four years of All Things Open. The Open Organization basically made the case that adopting open source principles can alter the nature of work, management, and leadership. In the book, Whitehurst defined an open organization as “an organization that engages participative communities both inside and out — responds to opportunities more quickly, has access to resources and talent outside the organization, and inspires, motivates, and empowers people at all levels to act with accountability.”
In 2016, Whitehurst believed very much in the philosophy he advocated, and he had put those ideas into play at Red Hat long before he wrote the book. That had made Red Hat a very special company both in the corporate attitude in general, but also in the mindset of it’s employees.
In those days, it was hard to find anybody who worked at Red Hat who wasn’t proud of their association with the company and who didn’t think that they were a part of something that was larger than what was essentially, on the surface, merely a corporate software developer and vendor.
Todd Lewis’s ideas about organizations and working with people wasn’t much different than Whitehurst and Red Hat’s, and for the next four years the fact that All Things Open was something akin to being Red Hat’s next door neighbor, seemed to be, in a very good way, a key component to the conference’s fortunes.
Year Four by the Numbers
The attendance numbers went up substantially in 2016. According to ATO, 2,400 people signed-up in 2016, an increase of more than 700 over the previous year. 2016 was also the year that the conference added a startup pitch competition. We don’t have any firm figures for the number of speakers and tracks at the event, but our memory is that every year, up to and including 2019, that the number of speakers and track did not go down.
This was also the first year since ATO’s start that FOSS Force didn’t cover the event, because Christine Hall started working for another publication several months before the start of the conference.
“I did end up sort of covering the conference for the other publication,” Hall said. “I remember that I interviewed Mitchell Hashimoto and Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman, who at the time had a lead position with the .NET project, and both of them were doing keynotes at ATO. I didn’t know anything about either of them at the time, but that’s who my editor wanted interviewed, so I did. I’m still friends with Hanselman on Twitter. At least I think I am, he might see it differently.”
People at ATO 2016
Editor’s note: The article has been modified from its original version to include information about attendance at the event which we did not have when the article was first published.
Gin Landers is an intern covering open-source technology for FOSS Force.