Compromise and Collaboration                   Engaging FOSS Contributors                              in the             ...
The Ecclesiastes Principle                                                      Has “the cloud” really changed            ...
Simplicity Sells                                                      Yutaka Tsutano                   http://www.flickr.c...
laihuhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/laihiu/4407979507/                     Do Features Trump Freedom?
Mentoring in theAge of Instant Gratification
blakespothttp://www.flickr.com/photos/blakespot/5240888169/                                                      Our tradi...
It’s Not All Bad, Right?
Whither Freedom?Do we have hope for‘scratching our own itch’in a world that ‘just works’?                                h...
Simplicity and Gratification    The Implications of Compromise                 brought to you by tacocopter.com           ...
Simplicity and Its DiscontentsWith simplicity comes the risk that we will no longer know how to manage our own destinies.
Compromise is Inevitable*        Mindful Choices and Narratives are VitalSan Jose Libraryhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/sanj...
Compromise is Not Quite Inevitable     Free software alternatives –         teach your mentees.
Questions? Thank you!              hawthornlandings.org
The Legal Bits●   The Big Blue Button, Github, Google Hangouts,    Skype, StatusNet and Twitter logos are property of    t...
The Legal Bits, cont’d. This presentation is licensed CC BY-SA 3.0.    Please use, remix, share and enjoy!http://creativec...
Collaboration and Compromise: Engaging FOSS Contributors  in the  Age of Cloud Computing
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Collaboration and Compromise: Engaging FOSS Contributors in the Age of Cloud Computing

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Presented at Open World Forum 2012.

Abstract:

As FOSS communities look to bring on new contributors, we're faced with a fundamental challenge - our new would-be users, contributors and advocates are largely operating in a world of non-free software. While the fact that most folks are using proprietary software - and that FOSS advocates would prefer they use FOSS - is nothing new, the rise of cloud computing puts a different spin on the problem. The ease of use promised by software as a service applications, the ubiquity and popularity of non-free social networks and the great increase in non-free real-time communications tools presents us with a more difficult use case: how do we convince folks of the value of FOSS when they expect things to "just work" and want to "hang out" where their friends are?

In this talk, Leslie Hawthorn will explore the tensions between effectively engaging our audience of would-be converts to FOSS while maintaining the values of software freedom. Specifically, she will explore the activist roots of the free software movement and how these activist principles can be channelled to effectively amplify the value of FOSS amongst users of cloud services and other non-free tools. Last but not least, she will discuss some libre tools that can be used in our community outreach activities, allowing us to effectively engage with our audience's user experience expectations while preserving software freedom in our discourse.

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  • Cut teeth in the FOSS world managing the Google Summer of Code program Spent a year in academia at Oregon State University Open Source Lab For the purposes of this talk, consider these remarks focused on engaging student contributors
  • We have different definitions of cloud computing. No one knows what technologies will die and which will prevail. How can we claim something changes everything if we don’t even know what it is? People have always sought and provided knowledge, so can we argue that all is new in mentoring in our communities just due to a technical shift?
  • It is not so much that technology has shifted, it is our expectations of it. We now live in a world where users and developers expect things to “just work,” to be beautiful, to seamlessly integrate with their other devices. And they do so by having these tiny computers in their pockets greater than that possessed by early computer scientists in entire rooms.
  • To paraphrase from Benjamin Mako Hill, for advocates of software freedom the first feature they select for is freedom and all other features are secondary. Our mentees experiences do not reflect this as a reality. Following on from our smart phone example, in discussions of Android vs. Apple, the discussion rarely focuses on open vs. Closed. In fact, ironically now the debate is on mapping technology and Apple’s new offering that incorporates open source maps vs. Google’s mapping tech. When we hear about developers and Android, it’s openness is cited as a negative – too hard to develop for since the platform is fragmented across so many devices. Freedom is not a discussion topic at all.
  • I’d argue that we’re not so concerned about mentoring in the age of cloud computing, but the age of instant gratification. The “digital native” of today grows up in a world replete with proprietary tools that promise to all them to share and be more connected, yet these tools are not FLOSS. How are we going to effectively engage them if we do not meet them where they are? And does engaging our audience using the tools with which they are most familiar make us fundamentally flawed and hypocritical?
  • I’d argue that we must do the work required to meet digital natives where they are, or we may not meet them at all. Our traditional contribution mechanisms – IRC, mailing lists, issue trackers – lack many of the bells and whistles our would-be mentees are used to. If we do not reach out to them through the silos they engage in, we will not be able to engage them with the philosophies of software freedom at all.
  • We live now not just in the age of cloud computing, but it’s close cousin the age of “social” everything – social media, social networking, social coding. Taking an example like Github, perhaps the future doesn’t look quite so dire. Github has, after all, taken the promise of cloud computing and applied it to free software – it’s now dead simple to share code, take patches, etc. Yet the underlying platform is not FOSS, but the primary objective – sharing – continues.
  • Shere does the de-emphasis on software freedom lead us from a social perspective? Do the values inherent in software freedom also provide us with further protections as citizens in the community of humanity? Can we expect the open source model to continue to exist and thrive and for innovation to continue when we’ve moved from a world of scratch your own itch to it just works?
  • The difficulty with instant gratification and things that just work is how seductive this pathway can be. Consider the recent FAA ruling that unmanned aerial vehicles - “drones” - are soon to be approved for commercial use in the U.S. As a lover of privacy and someone against the proliferation of citizen surveillance, this news scares the heck out of me. Yet enter the lure of instant gratification – TacoCopter offers to deliver me tacos, via UAV, all requiring only my credit card number and address. I don’t want to live in a surveillance state, but I sure do love tacos. And I don’t even have to go get them. And they’ll be delivered by this awesome helicopter drone thingy .... You get the idea.
  • For those of you who haven’t seen The Matrix Reloaded, this image is a particularly poignant scene between one of the Councilors and Neo, where the councilor lets Neo know both the ironic fact that machines below Zion are the only thing that keep humanity alive – even as machines outside seek to kill all humans – and that no one is left alive who knows how to maintain them. I’d argue that this is the greatest risk of instant gratification, cloud computing, it’s impulse to abstract away from systems and enable people to do cool things that just work, instantly, and with a minimum of overhead – we may find ourselves in a position not too long from now when we have no talent who can effectively maintain the foundations of our technical world.
  • I am not advocating that everyone in the room immediately cease all use of non-free software. I haven’t done so and I wouldn’t want to be a hypocrite. Instead I will argue that mindful choices and sharing the full history and narrative of free software has great value. When choosing a non-free solution to anything – be it how I get my lunch or how I communicate via the internet – I am mindful of that choice, that it is a choice and I am deliberately sacrificing freedom for instant gratification, simplicity and something that just works. Often, that’s enough to give me pause and to continue plugging away. Likewise, we must have mindful narratives about the FLOSS movement, it’s history, it’s path and progress. What have we given up to see greater corporate adoption of open source? What have we lost by not insisting that all code – or information, data, etc. - must be free?
  • Many tools exist that are free software implementations that can be used instead of proprietary tools. Seek these out, use them, file bug reports and work to improve them. Our “need” for new technologies will never change, but we need not accept a world in which proprietary software and removal of user freedom is inevitable. And remember, if you don’t talk to your mentees about free software, who will?
  • Collaboration and Compromise: Engaging FOSS Contributors in the Age of Cloud Computing

    1. 1. Compromise and Collaboration Engaging FOSS Contributors in the Age of Cloud Computing Identi.ca: @lhLeslie Hawthorn Twitter: @lhawthornOpen World Forum 11 November 2012
    2. 2. The Ecclesiastes Principle Has “the cloud” really changed everything?Daniel Boydhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/dannykboyd/4746718211/
    3. 3. Simplicity Sells Yutaka Tsutano http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivyfield/8010277529/
    4. 4. laihuhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/laihiu/4407979507/ Do Features Trump Freedom?
    5. 5. Mentoring in theAge of Instant Gratification
    6. 6. blakespothttp://www.flickr.com/photos/blakespot/5240888169/ Our traditional contribution mechanisms can seem old-fashioned at best, outmoded at worst.
    7. 7. It’s Not All Bad, Right?
    8. 8. Whither Freedom?Do we have hope for‘scratching our own itch’in a world that ‘just works’? http://www.flickr.com/photos/gisleh/3306564460/ gisleh
    9. 9. Simplicity and Gratification The Implications of Compromise brought to you by tacocopter.com Mike Licht http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/7307713016/
    10. 10. Simplicity and Its DiscontentsWith simplicity comes the risk that we will no longer know how to manage our own destinies.
    11. 11. Compromise is Inevitable* Mindful Choices and Narratives are VitalSan Jose Libraryhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjoselibrary/2801519142/
    12. 12. Compromise is Not Quite Inevitable Free software alternatives – teach your mentees.
    13. 13. Questions? Thank you! hawthornlandings.org
    14. 14. The Legal Bits● The Big Blue Button, Github, Google Hangouts, Skype, StatusNet and Twitter logos are property of their respective owners.● The image from the film Matrix Reloaded is copyright Warner Brothers and sourced from allmoviephoto.com.● The image from tacocopter.com is copyright TacoCopter, Inc.● All other photos courtesy of the many Flickr users who make their creative works available at no cost under Creative Commons Licenses.
    15. 15. The Legal Bits, cont’d. This presentation is licensed CC BY-SA 3.0. Please use, remix, share and enjoy!http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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