Day number two of FUDCon Santiago started with a quick breakfast at the hotel, and then we walked over to Universidad Central. Along the way, several folks stopped to take pictures — I think we even lost a couple of the Brazilians along the way. Some of the pictures have been posted to Flickr. Along the way, we ran into several phone booths that were advertising (the ever-nebulous concept of) cloud computing. In this case, they were simply providing some disk space if you signed up for their internet access, and we joked that maybe they should advertise it as “fog computing” instead. It was a bit of a wake up call, however, for just how quickly things are advancing in the area.
The first talk I attended was a talk by Guillermo Gómez S. (gomix) on RPM packaging. He did a great job of explaining the basics, and then getting into a few of the trickier subjects. After the talk, we talked to a couple of developers that were interested in having their software packaged for Fedora, and Guillermo invited them to attend his afternoon session where they actually packaged up some software.
I then jumped on IRC to participate in the Fedora Board Meeting. Máirín Duffy has written a very good writeup of the meeting on her blog. We experimented a bit with this meeting by making it totally open, and it went fairly well, but was a bit confusing at time when there were three or four conversations happening at once. We’ll keep exploring the best way to provide openness and transparency, while maintaining order as well.
After the board meeting, I bounced around from talk to talk and spent a lot of time listening to people here. There were several good talks on virtualization and high availability. I also spent more time conversing with the attendees and answering questions.
After the show wrapped up for the day, we held an impromptu round table discussion with the FUDCon organizers and the Fedora Ambassadors that were here. It was a good chance to discuss the things that went well, that didn’t go so well, and many other topics. The discussion was very animated and there were many different topics discussed, and I’m not sure I can do it all justice in this blog post, but I’m going to try to enumerate some of the topics discussed.
The first topic we discussed was communication among the ambassadors, especially between countries. It was generally agreed that the ambassadors aren’t communicating well with ambassadors from other LATAM countries, and we talked about ways we can improve the discussion between the different countries. We also talked about better ways of announcing events such as FUDCon, so that we get the word out to all the different Linux-based communities in the region. The general consensus was that wikis are great for documentation, but they don’t do a good job of letting people know of upcoming events, and that there needs to be more work done to reach out to users and developers in other ways.
The next topic was one of lack of organization within the LATAM open source community. We talked about the fact that this is a collaborative community, and that there needs to be more self-organization and collaboration between the disparate communities. At this point, it was suggested that ambassadors try to push technical discussions from their own local mailing lists or country-based mailing lists to regional lists that cover all the countries of Latin America, so that there are more opportunities for people to get the answers they need and also the mentorship they need to become future leaders. At this point, the conversation degraded a bit as people started to argue all the small details about whether to setup mail relays or encourage people gently to move to regional-based lists or to just shut down the smaller lists to encourage people to move to regional lists. Rodrigo Padula noted that the tools are already there to solve the problem — we just need to communicate! I shared a bit of my experience, and tried to get people back on talking about the principles and not getting bogged down in the details.
The next discussion revolved around events such as FUDCon. Guillermo noted that we’re pretty good at throwing events and inviting our friends to the party, but that we need to do more than that. He emphasized the fact that events are fun (like a party!), but we really need to focus on ensuring that we’re inviting people to become contributors. He said that there are several places people can get started in contributing — documentation, translation, packaging, infrastructure, marketing, design, and so on. We need to focus better on turning attendees into the folks that are going to be giving presentation in the next event. In short, events are the perfect location to invite people to work in Fedora.
The discussion then turned to ambassadors and the mentorship process, and whether or not the mentorship process is working as well as it should. Various ideas were tossed about, and I recommended that people make their suggestions to FAMSCo and the Fedora Board if they wanted to change things. (Several people suggested that we might need at least one or two more mentors here in LATAM.) From there, the conversation turned to the details of being a mentor (are you a coach or a filter?) and whether or not the 30-day probationary period for ambassadors is working or not. (Apparently it’s not in Brazil.)
To wrap things up, I thanked all the ambassadors and organizers for their hard work and effort to make this FUDCon a success, and encouraged them to look for opportunities during the rest of FUDCon and over the coming months to help new users understand that they’re going to have more fun if they are active participants in the community. I shared what I thought were the four most important things on my radar:
- improved communication
- making sure we start planning now for the next FUDCon in LATAM
- making sure we include ambassadors and active contributors from many different countries, and not just send the same few people to each event
- suggestion that we do a barcamp for at least a half-day in the next FUDCon in LATAM, so that people can see how it works and learn to do it better
By the time the round table wrapped up, it was late and I was exhausted, but people wanted to go out to eat, so I tagged along. To make a long story short, we found a good restaurant and spent the next several hours eating and talking. By the time we got back to the hotel, I was ready to crash, so I put off writing this blog entry until this morning.