OggCamp was fantastic. If I can remember all the talks I went to I'll do a brief write up. The event certainly left me with a few little ideas for things to write and do.Down with dynamic things!
One small example is that I've rewritten the build script for this blog. No more scripted generation of the final HTML; I just wget -m the development server and that's everything built. Then it's all just served up as static content through nginx. Simples and I don't know why I didn't think of just snapshotting it like that before.Click
I've reached a point in my career now where I find myself wanting to create and present slide decks. WTF?
I'm still writing code fairly regularly but there's so much other stuff I spend my time doing that I'm not even sure I can account for. It still feels important.Clock
I think I'm going to buy a Pebble to wean myself off the phone-checking habit that I've developed over the years.
Relatedly, I wrote this post on my phone. It wasn't nearly as painful as I'd expected.
On Thursday 9th, after weeks of low-level frustration at having to press “close” on every login, I sent a complaint to Barclays asking them to stop asking me on every single login to switch to paperless statements with a dialog box that has only two options:
This morning they replied:
Please be advised that it is currently not possible for us to remove the switch to paperless statements advert.
So, uh, I suppose if you’re a web developer who thinks that it’s acceptable to ask a question on every login and not supply any means for the user to say, “stop asking me this question”, there is still a job for you in the banking industry. No one there will at any point tell you that this is awful user experience. They will probably just tell you, “good job”, from their jacuzzi full of cash that they got from charging people £5.80 a month to have a bank account, of which £0.30 is for posting a bank statement.
Meanwhile, on another part of their site, I attempt to tell them to send me letters by email not post, but the web site does not allow me to because it thinks I do not have an email address set. Even though the same screen shows my set email address which has been set for years.
After light mocking on Twitter they asked me to try using a different browser, before completely misunderstanding what I was talking about, at which point I gave up.
There’s an interesting post about diversity at a tech conference. It is itself a response to a number of tweets by an attendee, so you should read both those things, and probably all of the other comments first.
I’ve now tried twice to add a comment to this article, but each time my comment disappears into the ether. Mark tells me that he is not seeing the comments, i.e. they are not being held for moderation, so I just assume some bit of tech somewhere is failing. Yes, I do get the captcha challenge thing and do complete it successfully. Blog comment systems are awful aren’t they?
So anyway, here’s the most recent version of the comment I tried to add:
I originally wrote this comment on the evening of the 6th, but the blog appears to have eaten it, and I no longer have a copy of it so I’ll have to try to re-type it from memory. Also since then I note a number of other comments which are highly opposed to what I wrote, so you’ll have to take my word for it that this is genuine comment and not an attempt to cause strife.
I do not believe that OggCamp specifically has a problem and I agree with much of what Mark has written, particularly that the unconference format is not in fact used to excuse lack of diversity (though it can be, and doubtless will be, by someone). I do believe that OggCamp has tried quite hard to be welcoming to all, and in many ways has succeeded. There seems to be a slightly larger percentage of female attendees at OggCamp compared to other tech conferences I have been to. I feel strongly that there is a larger percentage of female speakers at OggCamp.
I do however believe the widespread observation that tech conferences and tech in general do have a problem with attracting people who aren’t white males. I do believe that any group organising a conference are obligated to try to fix this, which means that the organisers of OggCamp are.
Stating that there is no such problem and that everyone is welcome is not going to fix it. Clearly there is a problem here, there’s people reporting that there’s a problem and they don’t think you’re doing all that you could do to be welcoming. There’s a word for telling people who say they’re subject to an unwelcoming environment that they in fact are wrong about how they feel, and I’d really like for this not to go there.
However I do not think that many of the things that Mark has proposed will actually make any difference, as well-intentioned as they are. To help improve matters I think that OggCamp should do some things that Mark (and many others in these comments, apparently) will not like.
I am in favour of positive reinforcement / affirmative action / speaker quotas / whatever you want to refer to it as, as part of a diversity statement. Like, aspirational. To be regarded as a sort of “could do better” if it wasn’t achieved. I believe it has shown to be effective.
My first suggestion is to have some sort of diversity goal, perhaps one like, “ideally at least one largest-stage slot per day will be taken by a person who is not a white male”. If we assume one largest stage, two slots each on morning and afternoon, that’s four per day so that’s aiming for 25% main stage representation of speakers who aren’t white males. I believe the gender split alone (before we consider race or other marginalised attributes) in the tech industry is something like 80/20 so this doesn’t sound outrageous.
My second suggestion—and I feel this is possibly more important than the first—is to get more diversity in the group of people selecting the invited speakers. I think a bunch of white males (like myself) sitting about pontificating about diversity isn’t very much better than not doing anything at all. Put those decisions into the hands of the demographic we are trying to encourage.
So, I suggest asking zenaynay to speak at the next OggCamp, and I suggest asking zenaynay if they know any other people who aren’t white males who would like to speak at a future OggCamp.
I do not think that merely marketing OggCamp in more places will fix much. People that aren’t white males tend to be put off from speaking at events like OggCamp and the only way to change their minds is to directly contact them. More diverse speakers will lead to more diverse attendees.
In the same vein, there’s the code of conduct issue. We tend to believe that we are all really nice guys doing the best we can; we would never offend or upset anyone, we would never exclude anyone. The thing is, people who aren’t like us have a very different experience of the world. So just saying that we’re not like that isn’t really enough. Codes of conduct for conferences are a good idea for this reason. Many people who are not white males will not attend a conference that doesn’t have one, because they feel like there is no commitment there and they’re not welcome (or in many cases, safe).
Ashe Dryden compiled a useful page of tips for increasing diversity at tech conferences. If there is genuine desire to do this then I think you have to come up with a great counter-argument as to why it isn’t worth trying the things that Ashe Dryden has said have worked for others. Codes of conduct and diversity goals are in there. As is personally inviting speakers.
“We don’t have time to run a full CFP process” seems like one of the stronger counter-arguments to all of this, to which I think there are two answers:
Shanley Kane wrote a great collection of essays called Your Startup is Broken. Of course this is about startups (and a US-centric slant, too) not conferences, but it is a great read nontheless and touches upon all the sorts of issues that are relevant here. I really recommend it. It’s only $10.
Finally, I feel that many of the commentors are being a little too defensive. Try to take it as an indictment of the tech sector, not an indictment of OggCamp, and try to use it as feedback to improve things.
Arbitrary tweets made by TheGingerDog up to 16 June 2014
Attempt to pass homeopathy off as credible by combining it with empirically valid medicine.
We woke to continual thunder.
I think it is time to leave the country.
It seems Mozilla is targeting emerging markets and developing nations with $25 cell phones. This is tremendous news, and an admirable focus for Mozilla, but it is not without risk.
Bringing simple, accessible technology to these markets can have a profound impact. As an example, in 2001, 134 million Nigerians shared 500,000 land-lines (as covered by Jack Ewing in Businessweek back in 2007). That year the government started encouraging wireless market competition and by 2007 Nigeria had 30 million cellular subscribers.
This generated market competition and better products, but more importantly, we have seen time and time again that access to technology such as cell phones improves education, provides opportunities for people to start small businesses, and in many cases is a contributing factor for bringing people out of poverty.
So, cell phones are having a profound impact in these nations, but the question is, will it work with FirefoxOS?
I am not sure.
In Mozilla’s defence, they have done an admirable job with FirefoxOS. They have built a powerful platform, based on open web technology, and they lined up a raft of carriers to launch with. They have a strong brand, an active and passionate community, and like so many other success stories, they already have a popular existing product (their browser) to get them into meetings and headlines.
Success though is judged by many different factors, and having a raft of carriers and products on the market is not enough. If they ship in volume but get high return rates, it could kill them, as is common for many new product launches.
What I don’t know is whether this volume/return-rate balance plays such a critical role in developing markets. I would imagine that return rates could be higher (such as someone who has never used a cell phone before taking it back because it is just too alien to them). On the other hand, I wonder if those consumers there are willing to put up with more quirks just to get access to the cell network and potentially the Internet.
What seems clear to me is that success here has little to do with the elegance or design of FirefoxOS (or any other product for that matter). It is instead about delivering incredibly dependable hardware. In developing nations people have less access to energy (for charging devices) and have to work harder to obtain it, and have lower access to support resources for how to use new technology. As such, it really needs to just work. This factor, I imagine, is going to be more outside of Mozilla’s hands.
So, in a nutshell, if the $25 phones fail to meet expectations, it may not be Mozilla’s fault. Likewise, if they are successful, it may not be to their credit.
I am a firm believer in building strong and empowered communities. We are in an age of a community management renaissance in which we are defining repeatable best practice that can be applied many different types of communities, whether internal to companies, external to volunteers, or a mix of both.
I have been working to further this growth in community management via my books, The Art of Community and Dealing With Disrespect, the Community Leadership Summit, the Community Leadership Forum, and delivering training to our next generation of community managers and leaders.
Last year I ran my first community management training course, and it was very positively received. I am delighted to announce that I will be running an updated training course at three events over the coming months.OSCON
On Sunday 20th July 2014 I will be presenting the course at the OSCON conference in Portland, Oregon. This is a tutorial, so you will need to purchase a tutorial ticket to attend. Attendance is limited, so be sure to get to the class early on the day to reserve a seat!
Firstly, on Fri 22nd August 2014 I will be presenting the course at LinuxCon North America in Chicago, Illinois and then on Thurs Oct 16th 2014 I will deliver the training at LinuxCon Europe in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Tickets are $300 for the day’s training. This is a steal; I usually charge $2500+/day when delivering the training as part of a consultancy arrangement. Thanks to the Linux Foundation for making this available at an affordable rate.
Space is limited, so go and register ASAP:
So what is in the training course?
My goal with each training day is to discuss how to build and grow a community, including building collaborative workflows, defining a governance structure, planning, marketing, and evaluating effectiveness. The day is packed with Q&A, discussion, and I encourage my students to raise questions, challenge me, and explore ways of optimizing their communities. This is not a sit-down-and-listen-to-a-teacher-drone on kind of session; it is interactive and designed to spark discussion.
The day is mapped out like this:
I will warn you; it is an exhausting day, but ultimately rewarding. It covers a lot of ground in a short period of time, and then you can follow with further discussion of these and other topics on our Community Leadership discussion forum.
I hope to see you there!
Arbitrary tweets made by TheGingerDog up to 04 June 2014
Arbitrary tweets made by TheGingerDog up to 01 June 2014
I just want to say how touched I have been by the response. The comments, social media posts, emails, and calls from you have been so kind and supportive. You are all good people, and I am going to miss every single one of you.
The reason why I have devoted my life to understanding communities is that I believe communities bring out the best in people, and all of you are a perfect example of that. I cannot express just how much I appreciate it.
Over the course of the next few weeks my replacement will be sourced and announced. and in the interim my team (Daniel Holbach, Michael Hall, David Planella, Nicholas Skaggs, Alan Pope) will take over my duties. Everything has been transitioned over, and remember, the weekly Q&As will continue at 6pm UTC every Tuesday on Ubuntu On Air with my team filling in for me. As ever, any and all Ubuntu questions are welcome!
Of course, I will still be around. I am going to continue to be a member of the Ubuntu community and an avid Ubuntu user, tester, and supporter. I will continue to be on IRC, you can email me at email@example.com, I will continue to do Bad Voltage, and I have a busy schedule at the Community Leadership Summit, OSCON, and more. I am also going to continue to have my own Q&A session every week where you can ask questions about my perspectives on Ubuntu, Canonical, community management, XPRIZE, and more; I will announce this soon.
Ubuntu has a tremendous future ahead of it, built on the hard work and passion of a global community. We are only just getting started with a new era of Ubuntu convergence and cloud orchestration and while I will miss being there in an official capacity, I am just thankful that I can continue to be along for the ride in the very community I played a part in building.
I now have a few weeks off and then my new adventure begins. Stay tuned.
As many of you will know, I organize an event every year called the Community Leadership Summit. The event brings together community leaders, organizers and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community.
The event pulls together these leading minds in community management, relations and online collaboration to discuss, debate and continue to refine the art of building an effective and capable community.
The event is taking place on 18 – 19 July 2014 in Portland, Oregon. I hope to see you all there, it is going to be a fantastic CLS this year!
I also have a few other things to share too…Community Leadership Forum
My goal as a community manager is to help contribute to the growth of the community management profession. I started this journey by publishing The Art of Community and ensuring it is available freely as well as in stores. I then set up the Community Leadership Summit as just discussed, and now I am keen to put together a central community for community management and leadership discussion.
As such, I am proud to launch the new Community Leadership Forum for discussing topics that relate to community management, as well as topics for discussion at the Community Leadership Summit event each year. The forum is designed to be a great place for sharing and learning tips and techniques, getting to know other community leaders, and having fun.
Be sure to go and sign up!Speaking Events and Training
I also wanted to share that I will be at OSCON this year and I will be giving a presentation called Dealing With Disrespect that is based upon my free book of the same name for managing complex communications.
This is the summary of the talk:
In this new presentation from Jono Bacon, author of The Art of Community, founder of the Community Leadership Summit, and Ubuntu Community Manager, he discusses how to process, interpret, and manage rude, disrespectful, and non-constructive feedback in communities so the constructive criticism gets through but the hate doesn’t.
The presentation covers the three different categories of communications, how we evaluate and assess different attributes in each communication, the factors that influence all of our communications, and how to put in place a set of golden rules for handling feedback and putting it in perspective.
If you personally or your community has suffered rudeness, trolling, and disrespect, this presentation is designed to help.
This presentation is on Wed 23rd July at 2.30pm in E144.
In addition to this I will also be providing a full day of community management training at OSCON on Sunday 20th July in D135.
Lots of fun things ahead and I hope to see you there!