Community Organizing for Free Software ActivistsPresentation Transcript
Hello LinuxFest Northwest! Community Organizing for Free Software Activists Deb Nicholson April 28th, 2012
What Im going to talk about ● Why free software is critical ● The state of the movement ● Strategy and perception ● Specific tactics for growth
In the 60s, people believed that computers would be used primarily to enhance the power of the individual ● CCBYSA DJ Brandon on Flickr
Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are meaningless if the methods of exercising them are not controlled by the people.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. “ Frederick Douglass
Free software is distributed power.
Today, free software users are the minority “As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not where I would like it to be.” Saul Alinsky
The “low hanging fruit” is already here.
According to FLOSSPOLS, women comprise less than 2% of the free software community.
We have a movement that needs to grow and a huge population we havent reached.
Lots of opportunity! ● More people spreading the word = – More users – More designers – More developers – More people spreading the word
Diversity beyond gender ● People of color ● GLBTQ ● People with disabilities ● Working class people ● “Noncomputer people”
The tactics Im about to share arent only for increasing diversity – theyre good guidelines for reaching out to anyone.
There are no shortcuts “Effective organization is thwarted by the desire for instant and dramatic change.”“To build a powerful organization takes time.” Saul Alinsky
How do we get there? Cesar Chavez was once asked how he did all that organizing. His answer, “I talked to one person, then I talked to another person, then I talked to another person...”
Talking to people effectively ● Define your purpose ● Plan an event or meeting ● Who is your target? ● Make it personal
Define your goal Its hard to invite people in when you cant articulate what youre inviting them to.
Stay on message ● Be up front about your goal ● Keep attention getting measures thematically related ● Consider #offtopic or beer afterwards CCBY – photogirl7 on flickr
Events or meetings ● Give you a specific time and place to focus on ● Newcomers events cut out the weirdness of inviting new people one at a time ● Face to face helps people feel connected
Planning your event... A public place ● ● Entice people with snacks ● Make a plan and stick to it CCBY Tomi Tapio on flickr
Stay on target, stay on target... ● Who are you inviting? ● Whats in it for them? ● Tailor your approach ● Repeat and repeat and repeat CCBYSA Eric Kilby on Flickr
Perception & Recruitment ● Its easy to recruit yourself ● Stereotypes ● “Just another member” vs. “unicorn” CCBYSA smws on Flickr
Making it personal ● What is the person youre talking to interested in? ● Send personalized emails ● Talk to people in person ● Repeat and repeat and repeat
Theyre here! Now what? ● Run good meetings ● Follow up with people ● Analyze what you just did ● Improve it for next time!
A few things to remember ● Introductions as opportunity ● Thank people constantly ● Use inclusive language ● Have next steps ready
Growing Think of your new participants as seedlings, theyll need care and feeding but not smothering. CCBY – Rev Stan on flickr
90% of organizing is followthrough
Tools for follow-through ● Take notes at your meetings ● Keep institutional knowledge up to date and somewhere everyone can access it ● Set deadlines and stick to them ● Thank people for the tasks theyve completed publicly if possible!
Share the work ● Work is “digital” ● Baby factor ● Burnout factor ● Documentation CCBY – Steven Depolo on flickr
Share the power ● Dont be “the boss” ● Mission > details ● Whats so great about doing it your way? ● Invested people stick around CCBYSA Tom Raftery on flickr
Fostering Leadership ● Recognition: free and awesome ● Reward people with more responsibility ● Teach/empower people to recruit others CCBY – moonlightbulb on flickr
One on Ones● Build accountability● Listen ● Make it better● Stay on topic CCBY – Anya Logic on flickr
In closing... ● More people and different people == larger and more successful free software movement! ● Invite people thoughtfully and repeatedly● Share the work and the decision making! ● Make sure people are getting something back so they stick around● Always be fostering leadership
Want more? ● Email me, email@example.com● Free software organizing resources http://groups.fsf.org/wiki/Womenscaucus/resources● “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinski