I’m here at OSCON in sunny, sunny, Portland, and I was just discussing with Nat Torkington my long standing concept of the T-Shirt Index as internet economic indicator. He pointed out that I should blog about it, so here it is.
The first year I came to OSCON - I now can’t remember if it was 2000 or 2001 - was at the end of the dot-com boom. That year there was a huge sense of excitement around the place, lots of parties, lots of enthusiasm about Open Source. On the exhibit hall floor, I collected a total of 14 vendor tshirts. They were giving them away like candy on Halloween.
The next year, after the crash, I went home with one tshirt, and hence the T-Shirt Index was born.
It’s gradually been on the upswing ever since: in 2005 I went home with 12 shirts. This year there are a huge number of people at OSCON, the enthusiasm is palpable, and I suspect the T-Shirt Index will be high.
I’ve always been interested in weird economic indicators: at least since I read Robert Heinlein’s Friday, where the protagonist correlates the length of beards, the length of skirts, and the price of gold. This one is my contribution.