A handful of us are waiting in the hotel lobby to catch a cab to the train station as the Marketing Hackfest has come to an end. Andreas has inspired me to stop procrastinating and write another blog post (hopefully it’s not the last one about the hackfest!)

Our trip here was sponsored and organized by multiple groups including ASOLIF, Technological Institute of Aragón, CESLA, the city of Zaragosa and the regional government Aragón.  (See the Hackfest page for more details under organizers).  I would personally like to thank Agustin for taking such good care of us and making sure we got from one place to another.

Our days were very structured – start hacking at 9 until 2:00 when we would break for lunch, then start again at 4:00 (or at least that’s when we were supposed to start – Spain is very relaxed and have long lunches) and then hack some more until 8:30 or so when the facility closed.  Walk back to the hotel and then meet for dinner and walk to a location around 9:30.  Agustin was kind enough to explain some of the cultural significance in why this is and it was a good learning experience.

Being your typical American this took some getting used to!

We spent our time hacking in the “Water Library” or Bibliotecha de Agua (I hope I got that right as I don’t speak Spanish).  The library was converted from a convent (if I remember correctly) and the picture above is the room just outside our conference room.    Walking through the library some rooms had display cases explaining the history of the building and the city.

Each day after lunch Stormy, Vincent and myself would meet with officials from the local or regional government, the university or businesses in Spain who are using free software and are interested in growing their community and giving back.  The city of Zaragoza is marketing itself as an Open Source City and is building infrastructure to retain and attract technology companies and startups as well as helping its citizens through things like free Wifi.  (More on Zaragoza in another post – it deserves it’s own blog post for all the cool things they’re doing).

Some of the business leaders we met with traveled hours by train to meet with us and we were honored to learn about what they’re doing in and with free software and how they want to give back to the community.  We were able to share our knowledge of working within free software communities and I’m excited to see these companies grow and expand.

One local example is eBox.  From their website:

eBox Platform can act as a Gateway, Infrastructure Manager, Unified Threat Manager, Office Server, Unified Communication Server or a combination of them. One single, easy-to-use platform to manage all your network services.

Ignacio, eBox’s CEO, spent a significant amount of time with us joining us for lunch and dinner every single day.  We were also able to get a tour of their offices after the session on Friday.  Heidi, their Chief Marketing Officer also joined us for dinner one night and on Friday.

On Friday, the government hosted a day of talks that included local businesses and other free software speakers, including Rodrigo Moya from GNOME Hispano, and Stormy, Vincent and myself each gave talks.  It was a fantastic opportunity to participate with such a diverse group and being able to represent GNOME.

Thank you to everyone in and around Zaragoza for spending time us and sharing the exciting things you’re doing and the goals you have in building free software and communities.  It was definitely a learning experience and one I’m thankful for.