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OSCON and CLS 2010 highlights

As usual, when I get back from a big conference and trip, my mind is full processing everything that happened, and my life is full recovering from the effects of the travel.  Instead of a full report right here and now, I’m going to give a quick highlight of the latter part of July 2010.

  • 16 July our team loads up a mini-van and starts the 12+ hour drive to Portland, Oregon.  On the way we stop in Berkeley, CA to visit the wonderful folks at ZaReason.  Cathy and Earl, our proprieters, are loaning me one of their snappy new (and shiny red!) Terra HD almost-mini-notebook.  I’m giving it a full test run under Fedora for a number of reasons.  Personally, I want to see what life is like on a modern, small notebook; I’ve always been a “bigger is better” laptop selector (for myself.)  I also want to see how this system, loaded with stock Intel components, handles Fedora 13 and maybe rawhide (Fedora 14 to be.)  This also gives me a chance to help iron out any kinks in delivering Fedora on these systems, if any arise.  I’ve long been a fan of ZaReason’s approach to supplying systems to Linux users, they’ve clearly developed a following, and it’s great to see them reaching out to Fedora users with pre-installation and so forth.
    • The trip north is simply epic, with the Bay Area, Central Valley of California, Mt. Shasta, the Siskyous, and the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Beautiful country, awe inspiring.  It is great to show it to some folks for their first time.
    • We arrive pretty late to Portland where we hook up with Robyn Bergeron, who I get to meet in person for the first time; she’s very cool.  The hotel is very nice right in the middle of downtown, and we settle in to be as fresh-as-possible for CLS the next day.
  • 17 July we spend at CLS, participating to various degrees.  My take of the Community Leadership Summit (CLS) community is that there are a number of large groupings you can lump attendees in to.  Some are very experienced online community membesr and leaders.  Some have taken that community leadership to add a production of some sort to the necessary, core social need of being involved.  Common products are free and open  source software projects, but those aren’t the only ones in evidence.   Some are a subtle mix of social and something tangible that still can’t be held in your hand.  Within those groupings are people who are new, experienced, and everywhere in between.  I don’t think these differences are clear to everyone attending, and I think they create some potential disconnect in terms of how the people coming to CLS interact.  Just something to expect in a rather new community, and dinner conversation spurs Max to write a blog post at my prodding.   I attend a few sessions:  “Moving beyond the mailing list“; “You suck or conflict resolution in your communities” (where we hear the advice to, “Just remove them from your mailing list,” when a poisonous person problem in e.g. the Fedora Project is much more complex).  I meet up with lots of old and new friends, make new friends and contacts, have a great lunch downtown at the food carts, and do my best to do my best.  We end the day with sushi served by model railroad, which finally makes me happy.
    • There are two incidents that happen that day, one I observe that makes me feel very uncomfortable while it is happening, and the other I hear about a few days later.  Both happen in the morning plenary session, and both are disturbing instances of sexist behavior.  I think my blocking on writing about those has contributed to my not writing about the event overall.  I feel that my first real writing about this has to be to the CLS discussion list, because this is the community where the behavior happens and needs to be corrected.  At the moment, that is all that I’ve decided.  I’m still feeling that stunning and chilling effect that makes me want to go silent and pretend nothing is happening, all will be forgotten. Ick.
  • Sunday 18 July starts out OK, although we are all a bit over-sleep-ish.  This morning I pitch a session to share about the community leadership handbook, The Open Source Way.  I give a good, thorough introduction, and try to illicit some feedback on what people need from such a book, as well as prodding them to use it as a canonical resource for the principles we are espousing all the time.  I also attend a few sessions, including  “You’re killing your community“, a wry look at why too much help can be harmful.  We end up having dinner at the top of Portland, at Portland City Grill overlooking everything, where happy hour yields us some nice food at a tasty price.  Late night Saturday and Sunday we pony up for some points-only poker, and I learn finally how Texas hold ‘em is really played.
  • On Monday 19 July we head down to Oregon State University campus to meet with Drs. Tim Budd and Carlos Jensen.  The real and potential fall out from this trip are worthy of a separate blog post, and I think I’m going to write an article on it for opensource.com.  The summary is, I’m seeing an inverse mirroring relationship between the goals and methods of FOSS and academia.  It opens some really cool possibilities.
    • Also cool, for the rest of the week I get to meet multiple graduate students from OSU working on research that is useful and can make a difference: gender equality; enormous lack of joining and engagement; and so forth.
  • Monday night is the Teaching Open Source education bird’s of a feather mini-session, and I get to meet even more interesting people.  Then I head back to Corvallis to …
  • … spend Tuesday with a friend and his family.  I head back to Portland in time to help with booth setup, then back to the hotel where I’m surprised by the kids and Larry showing up earlier than I expected. Yay!  Food is sought, then bed.
  • Early Wednesday I’m up to finish my part on the final slides Mel and I are using this morning at 10:40, “5 FOSS in Edu Projects That Changed the World“  All goes fine in our talk, it is actually pretty good, and the day is a bit more relaxing after that.  We work the booth and hang out in the expo hall, make trouble, and talk lots of stuff to lots of people, especially teaching open source (TOS) stuff and the open source way stuff.
    • Wednesday night I dip to an Android hands on, which includes my own Nexus One handset to start developing on and such.  Thanks Google, and thanks Tim Bray for organizing the session along with the awesome crew from Google.  My girls are going to be very jealous when I get back to the hotel room.
  • Thursday we try to just improve on Wednesday, including getting one or two mini-talks going at the Fedora booth.  Lots more TOS talk, I have lunch with an old friend and colleague (downtown food carts for the win again.)  Now that I’m with the kids, I take it pretty easy at night, heading back in to the hotel early and getting wicked tasty pizza delivered by bicycle for dinner from Old Town Pizza.
  • Friday I’m up early again, having a morning adventure walk and finishing updating my slides (source and all OSCON materials) for my talk today, “Being a Catalyst in Communities: The Science Behind the Open Source Way“.  Very smooth talk, I’m happy with the updated slides and after giving the talk a few times this year, I’ve got a good stride with it; also, I don’t go over time.  Then we pack everyone up, load the kids and Larry in the minivan, and head back south to Santa Cruz.  We arrive home about 3:30 Saturday morning, and here I am still.