COLUMBIA, SC — Next week’s Palmetto Open Source Software Conference — or POSSCON — has tapped into the White House.
Two members of President Barack Obama’s technology team will highlight the annual conference, which has grown into a national event over the past five years.
Harper Reed, chief technology officer for Obama for America 2012, will give the keynote address on Wednesday, while Leigh Heyman, director of new media technologies for the White House, will speak on Thursday.
“Attracting people at that level is proof that our stature is growing,” said even chairman Todd Lewis, who noted that national and international press also are attending the conference. “If they didn’t find value in it, they would never come.”
The conference focuses on the communal development of software like Open Office and Firefox that developers share with the world, often for free. About 40 nationally acclaimed speakers are scheduled for the conference.
This year’s event will be held Wednesday and Thursday at IT-oLogy on Gervais Street in Columbia. Previously, the conference was held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
“Our idea is create an intimate, smaller environment where we can bring in huge speakers and really give them a chance to interact with the attendees,” Lewis said.
The lineup includes:
• Reed, who will speak about the 2012 election, the role technology played in the campaign and specifically how open source technology was utilized and how it helped Obama win the race.
• Heyman, who oversees the development and operations of WhiteHouse.gov, We the People and all of the White House’s websites and applications.
• Numerous open source technology leaders from all over the world, who will speak on new and emerging technologies, as well as associated updates and breaking news.
• Representatives from industry leaders, such as Hewlett Packard, Red Hat, Oracle, SIOS, Groupon, PayPal, and many others, who will make announcements regarding the latest product releases.
Industry leaders from 15 states and seven countries will attend and participate this year.
“Definitely an international presence this year that hasn’t been there in the past,” Lewis said.
The first conference, held at USC in 2008, had 125 attendees. The event in 2012 drew approximately 600 people from more than 12 states, 20 colleges and universities and more than 75 private and government organizations.
“This conference has helped change the brand of Columbia and the Midlands when it comes to IT,” Lewis said. “To be able to convince all these people to come here and speak at the same time in Columbia, South Carolina is a big deal.”