I was in Belgrade last week for five days speaking at the B-Link festival. It wasn't just software, in fact it was primarily not software. There were panel discussions on various social, political and artistic topics. I met a musician from Ljubljana, the co-founder of the Dutch Pirate Party, local Wikipedians and several KDE fans .. not to mention members of the Math faculty at the university there.
It was my first foray into this area of Europe, and it was an interesting, educational and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Talking about politics with people there was interesting as conversations deviated from the standard memes, which is understandable given that this was a region with its own cultural history and heritage that was also at war less than 15 years ago. The transitions there in the last few decades have been sweeping and that has certainly shaped the mental landscape as well.
The physical architecture of the place was also interesting: relics of the cold war era sat stolidly next to the brands of today. I've seen pictures, but walking the streets is really the only way to get a proper feel for it. Unfortunately it was very foggy and a bit cold for much of the time I was there, so the weather certainly got in the way of this aspect of my visit.
Ivan Čukić helped arrange all this and he set up a really good program for presenting KDE at the festival. We had four people speaking on various topics with around 20 people in attendance. Most of those who came use Linux, many of them also use KDE software. The next day, Ivan arranged for me to speak at the local University where he also works and I got to meet some delightful people. Some expressed interest in getting involved with KDE as a contributor, so I'm hopeful to see some more commits coming from Serbia in the near future! :)
I'm still ruminating on my experiences there. Despite only being there for five days, there is lots to digest. Most of all, I hope that we managed to inject some KDE awareness and desire to those we spent time with. With that, at least, I believe we succeeded. :)