Thank you for Ubuntu's success at Anime Boston 2010!

Posted: 2010-04-21

It's hard to believe how well this has all come together. If there's one thing we would like to say coming from this, it's that Ubuntu and other free culture and free software (aka open source) groups need to participate in similar events to reach out to non-techie folks. Any convention more tech-focused than this shouldn't need our presence. Let's go over what we accomplished: live installs, dancing games, free kopibon, and more!

We successfully made Ubuntu highly-visible to thousands of convention goers. We kept hearing from people that our booth was very eye-catching and really stood out! We can thank the Ubuntu MA team leader, Martin (DoctorMO), for the awesome banner and posters we had up. On display, we had four machines by System76: a Starling Netbook, Pangolin Performance, Bonobo Performance, and a 32" HDTV hooked up to another Pangolin Performance under the table. Using the big screen, we lured in the crowed. Blasting techno and showing off crazy compiz-fusion effects, we caught the attention of passersby who were very impressed. It wasn't hard to hear outbursts such as, "Who needs Windows 7!?" and other comments on how awesome the Ubuntu desktop looked. The response we generated was incredible-- people were genuinely amazed! 

Over and over, people approached us with great reactions. Lots of them were already using Ubuntu, some knew someone who loved Ubuntu, many had heard of Ubuntu, and just as many were curious to find out what it was! The reactions we received were a testament not only to how far Ubuntu has spread already but also how extremely receptive still-unaware individuals are. 

FireFox posing in front of our booth!
Costumed characters stopped by to cheer us on including Zero who rushed past, snatched a CD, and shouted "Zero uses Ubuntu!" which we were very glad to hear, seeing as he ends up uniting the entire world! There were also plenty of common citizens drifting through the vast sea of cosplayers, unadorned in any costume aside from their own personal style, who excitedly approached us. People were openly expressing their appreciation to others with exclamations they made on their way from our booth like, "Sweet, I just got a new operating system!" Some were asking how they could get more involved with advocacy and our group and we even picked up another booth helper! This is what we love about the community.

Many still were the people who came on behalf of someone they knew who loved Ubuntu, grabbing materials and goodies to give them later. Most important to us, though, was everyone who had never heard of Ubuntu but grew excited to learn more upon seeing our display. People took around 500 double-sided flyers about Ubuntu, Free Software (aka Open Source), and the many powerful design tools available: Blender, Inkscape, Synfig, GIMP, and MyPaint. An additional 550 live CD's and 1000 copies of the Ubunchu manga were taken (extra comic books available at request). We even did 5 live-installs, right there at our booth! That number would be higher but people just didn't have their machines with them. Our booth visitors came with curiosity and left eager to pop in their new LiveCDs.

We did live demonstrations of apps like Inkscape, GIMP, and Blender (well, we showed off some files from Sintel, the foundation's latest Open Project). We played videos like production cuts from the Morevna Project sent to us for the event along with The Matrix Runs on Windows, and open projects, Elephant's Dream and Big Buck Bunny. We played games like Savage2 and StepMania 4.0, breaking out the dance pad which drew in a good crowd of dancers and spectators very quickly.

That's not all. Our presence wasn't limited to the Dealer's Room. We also had our flyers and manga on the freebie table and, just like last year, they seemed to be the only thing people were really interested in! If we could've kept up with how fast they were being taken, we could've distributed a lot more. On top of all of this, Martin went up to the Artist's Alley armed with our flyers and talked to everyone up there about all the tools available for their needs. The artists there were very receptive and it definitely helped that we made the effort to reach out to them personally.

This being our first event of this size, we did learn a few good lessons as well, and have some new ideas for the future. You didn't think we were done, did you? Overall, we don't feel there was anything missing, but we've learned a lot about what this kind of project involves and can do even better! Next time we will organize more ahead of time knowing which things require more or less time and be better prepared to handle it all more efficiently. We'll assemble a team earlier on, and give time to go over the good and bad talking points for different kinds of people. It isn't that our booth people weren't amazing; it's that we can always work on perfecting the art of hooking in as many people as we can, as quickly and effectively as we can. One thing which could've been handled better by myself was documentation of the event in pictures and video. There was no way for me to be behind the camera when the booth was at its busiest because I needed to keep the demos going. As a result, all of the pictures in our album are from the quietest times at our booth. I did leave the camera rolling during some periods, so hopefully I'll be able to churn out a decent video with that footage, but next time we will dedicate a lot of time to filming and photographing.

Hopefully this have given you a decent picture of how well everything went. We were even invited to some other conventions! If you have any ideas, want to get involved with the team, or just have questions, please get in touch. This all started out as a little idea, and thanks to the help of many, it grew into the super-successful Ubuntu @ Anime Boston project! 

Thank you to everyone who helped:


Our biggest thanks goes to all of you, the entire community, for all the generous support you've given us with banner hosting, donations, and all the other help we've gotten. None of this would have happened without all your support! 
The beautiful high-quality laptops and netbook lent to us by System76 were an essential part of this event and their help with promotion was invaluable. 

One thousand flyers courtesy of ProdPromo was one of our most valuable resources at the convention. 

Three thousand copies of the Ubunchu Manga in gorgeous quality by Red Sun Press, a truly environmentally friendly worker-owned union shop dedicated to social justice.

Fiscal sponsorship and guidance from Linux Fund helped keep this project going. 

LiveCDs, flyers, and other Ubuntu goodies like hats, t-shirts, silly putty, mouse pads, pens, and books from Canonical made our booth complete.
ASCII Media Works provided us with copies of the Ubuntu Magazine Japan which includes the Ubunchu Manga.

A huge thank you to Arturo "C-quel" Silva of Pigux for being our biggest donor and providing incredible artwork used throughout our booth. 

The Morevna Project covered us in a blog post and provided us a video of production cuts. Synfig, the main tool behind the project hosted a prominent banner on their website.

Banners hosted by PlayDeb and GetDeb, the popular third-party Ubuntu repos, have helped raise awareness of our fundraiser.