A History of SCaLE12X, 12 years of the SoCal Linux Expo

Feb 20, 2014 • Advertising, Events
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scale_12x_dodecahedron (1)This weekend marks the 12th consecutive Southern California Linux Expo, SCaLE12x. Corresponding with several of the founders, here’s the story of how it all began.

The original founders comprised of Ilan Rabinovitch, Gareth Greenaway, Shyam Kapadia, Orv Beach, Lei Zhang, Phil Dibowitz and Scott Kilroy.

Initially, the Simi Conejo Valley Linux Users Group led by Gareth Greenaway had already been throwing several “Linux Fest” events for four years in a row. During planning of the fifth year, Scott Kilroy from the USC LUG and Lei Zhang from the UCLA LUG approached him about throwing a joint effort; pooling their talents to put together the first SCaLE.

Hosted at the USC Davidson Conference Center, it was initially a one-day event with just 20 speakers and two tracks. This year, the 12th anniversary of the Southern California Linux Expo will take place at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel as a three-day event, now with 85 speakers and over 100 exhibitors.

Phil Dibowitz shares this memory,

“I remember the morning of the first conference vividly. I remember being worried no one would show up. Or everyone would show up, but none of the speakers would show up. But 200 people showed up for a day-long event with one of my heroes as a speaker (Robert Love) at the USC Davidson Conference Center. It had a lot of rough edges, but no one could deny it was a success. I was the technical committee chair for the first two years. I say “chair” as if there were a committee… but most committees, including mine, were just one person, because volunteers were hard to come by for something no one had ever heard of. Back then things were smaller, so being the technical committee meant everything from trying to balance the power requirements for all the booths across the few circuits by running tons of extension chords across the floor, all the way to managing the website.

I’m most proud of two things. First and foremost we’re the largest volunteer-run open-source conference that I’m aware of. There are bigger conferences, but they’re run by large companies. Our conference is relaxed, personal, and run by geeks for geeks. For that to succeed and grow for 12 years is something I’m in awe of. Second, it’s got a social following unlike most conferences. People who don’t go to any other conferences come out to SCaLE to see friends they haven’t seen since last year. People are up talking, drinking, socializing, networking, etc. all night. It’s a place where people who believe in open source come to both learn and relax, and that’s pretty unique. We’ve kept politics low and spirits high, and that’s a difficult challenge.”

Starting bright and early on Friday morning, February 21st and ending Sunday afternoon, February 23rd; this year’s Southern California Linux Expo features keynote speaker, Lawrence Lessig, @Lessig the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and founder of Rootstrikers, a network of activists leading the fight against government corruption.

Lessig serves on the Boards of Creative Commons, AXA Research Fund and iCommons.org, and on the Advisory Boards of the Sunlight Foundation, the Better Future Project, and Democracy Café. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries.

See you at SCaLE12x this weekend! TechZulu readers can register with the code ZULU for 50% off the regular ticket price.

Garick Chan

Technocratic solutions to a communal future, Garick is a connector, matchmaker and community-builder. He's a digital engagement strategist and involved with a number of tech & startup groups both online and in the Los Angeles/Southern California area.

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