Archive for January, 2012
I tend to measure the success of an tech event (such as FUDCon) not by how many people show up or what talks were given, but by the work that happens in the days and weeks after the event. By that measure (along with the traditional measurements), our recent FUDCon event was a huge success. I have also been inspired by the friends in our community who have publicly posted their post-FUDCon to-do lists, so that we can all have insight into the work that FUDCon helped bring to light.
Rather that give a day-by-day account of my own FUDCon activities, I want to just highlight some of the the things that resonated with me at FUDCon.
First, I was impressed with the Virginia Tech campus. It was a beautiful location for the event, and the amount of space we had was absolutely fantastic. Thanks again to Ben Williams and the Math Department at VT for their awesome support.
Second, I was impressed with the number of people who had planned ahead for the conference, and came prepared to both learn and share. I didn’t see too many people this year just hanging out in the hallway checking email, so that’s probably a very good sign.
I was happy to see how many of the various Fedora groups really had their act together for FUDCon. Just to highlight a few that caught my eye: The Docs team had several introductory sessions and a hackfest, which helped get some new people up to speed in the docs tooling. The Cloud SIG had a wide variety of talks on different aspects of cloud computing. I didn’t get to participate with much of the Infrastructure team’s sessions, but they all seemed interesting and were usually completely full. The ARM SIG also had a huge presence at the conference — with a marathon run of non-stop ARM work happening throughout the conference, and some nice give-aways to help entice more people to join the SIG and contribute.
As a Fedora Board, we met a couple of different times (once on Friday and once on Sunday) to discuss Board goals and work on other Board business. The board decided that in order to lead by example we would each choose a project to champion over the next year, and that we would make regular reports on how those projects are going. I’ve asked each of the Board members to pick their project over the next week or two, and be prepared to present it at our Board meeting on February 1st. If you have ideas or causes that you would like the Board to take up, please don’t hesitate to let the Board know, either personally or via the advisory-board list. I know a couple of the Board members already have their projects picked out, but I’m sure other members would love feedback and ideas. I really enjoyed the opportunity of meeting with the Board in a more personal setting, and having the chance for higher-bandwidth communications, and I hope that we can make that happen more often in the future.
Besides all of the technical discussion that happened at FUDCon, I was happy to participate in a number of different talks aimed at making the human side of Fedora more enjoyable. Whether it was talk about how to better attract new participants or improving exiting processes for Ambassadors, really enjoyed the ideas and brainstorming that came out of those discussions. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can improve things in this regard over the coming year. I also enjoyed the chance to interact with many of the community members in some light-hearted activities as well, including getting bowling tips from Russell Harrison, getting lots of photography tips (and good stories) from Eric Christensen, having a good snowball fight with Jeroen van Meeuwen, and having a good impromptu swordfight with Mark Terranova. All of these things helped keep me from going too crazy with all the logistics around FUDCon.
So to everyone who participated or supported those who did, let me say thank you. Now let’s get back to work and finish up all those things we talked about doing, and keep making forward progress…
I have a pretty good idea what you’re thinking… you’re saying to yourself “Here goes Jared, reminding me of all the things I need to remember about FUDCon”. Well, this is a FUDCon reminder, but I’ll leave the logistics details aside for a moment, and invite you to prepare for FUDCon in other ways. I’m sure others will remind you of the logistical items you’ve forgotten about. (You did remember to sign up ahead of time for the wireless internet access at Virginia Tech, right?)
Prepare to Learn
One of the things I most enjoy about the Fedora Users and Developers Conference is the chance to learn in a fast-paced environment from people who do amazing things every day. That learning doesn’t come by accident, however. I learned at my first FUDCon that you really need to prepare ahead of time to be able to take advantage of all there is to learn at FUDCon. So, write down a short list of topics you’d like to learn about. Write down a list of questions you’d like to ask your fellow Fedora contributors. Look at the list of workshops, and start planning which ones you would like to attend. And when we organize the barcamp portion of the conference on Saturday morning, pay attention to the sessions that are pitched and be prepared to vote for the sessions you are most likely to attend.
I’ve seen from sad experience that if you don’t plan ahead for learning, you’ll end up spending too much time checking your email or chatting with your friend in the hallway (more on the hallway track below!), and miss out on a great opportunity to learn and grow.
Prepare to Share
I’ve talked briefly about learning at FUDCon, but that must mean there’s another side to the coin: If there are people to learn, then there must be people willing to teach as well. This is one reason why the barcamp session at FUDCon is truly amazing, because anybody can stand up and propose a session. It always helps if you have something prepared to share, or know the material well enough that you can do a presentation without any formal preparation, but that’s not an absolute requirement. I do encourage you, however, to spend some time thinking about the things you have that you could teach to other participants, and then come prepared to share your knowledge with others.
I’d also like you to think about ways you can share the FUDCon experience with those who aren’t able to make it to the conference. All the usual suspects (blog posts, microblogging such as identi.ca or Twitter, social networking, IRC channels) are there and available to help us share with those who are participating vicariously.
Prepare to Socialize
Another important aspect of FUDCon is the chance to get to know your fellow Fedorans better. So even though I told you earlier to plan ahead so that you don’t get stuck in the “hallway track” at FUDCon, I must confess that the hallway track is an important part of the conference. Perhaps as important as the technical bits. Getting to know your fellow contributors helps build trust in our community, and helps to smooth over the rough patches that we encounter from time to time. Sometimes being able to put a face and a name with an IRC handle makes all the difference. There are a number of activities on the schedule specifically designed to help you get to know your (virtual) neighbors a bit better, and I’m sure some people will come up with unscheduled activities as well.
So bring your HAM radio, or your DSLR, or your latest robotics kit, or your hot dog costume. Bring your favorite keyboard or input device… and then don’t be afraid to say hello to those around you. And if you see me, say hi! (I’ll be the guy playing amateur photographer and generally trying to make sure things go smoothly.)
Prepare to Work
Last but not least, I ask each of you to come to FUDCon prepared to work. Yes, we have a good time at FUDCon. Yes, we learn and share and grow. But at the end of the day, FUDCon is about making forward progress, and moving us one step closer to our goals. Yes, talk is important, and conversation is crucial. It’s only if we put those ideas into action that FUDCon is truly successful. If you’re a part of a steering committee or a special interest group in Fedora, prepare to set a plan for the upcoming year. If you’re not yet a member of a special interest group, you might want to join one at FUDCon, and take the first step to becoming more involved.
I can’t wait to spend time with many of you at FUDCon this coming weekend, and hope to meet the rest of you someday at a future event.
(Thanks to María “tatica” Leandro and Kushal Das for sharing their FUDCon photos with me.)