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Community Organizing for Free Software Activists

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Community Organizing for Free Software Activists

  1. 1. Hello LinuxFest Northwest! Community Organizing  for  Free Software Activists Deb Nicholson April 28th, 2012   
  2. 2. What Im going to talk about ● Why free software is critical  ● The state of the movement ● Strategy and perception ● Specific tactics for growth    
  3. 3. In the 60s, people believed that computers would be used primarily to enhance the power of the individual  ● CC­BY­SA ­­ DJ Brandon on Flickr  
  4. 4. Freedom of speech  and freedom of assembly  are meaningless if the methods  of exercising them are not  controlled by the people.    
  5. 5. “Power concedes nothing  without a demand. It never did  and it never will. “ ­­ Frederick Douglass     
  6. 6. Free software is distributed power.    
  7. 7. 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   
  8. 8.  The “low hanging fruit” is already here.     
  9. 9.   According to FLOSSPOLS,  women comprise less than 2%  of the free software community.    
  10. 10.   We have a movement  that needs to grow and  a huge population  we havent reached.    
  11. 11. Lots of opportunity! ● More people spreading the word = – More users – More designers – More developers – More people spreading the word   
  12. 12. Diversity beyond gender  ● People of color ● GLBTQ  ● People with disabilities  ● Working class people ● “Non­computer people”   
  13. 13.  The tactics Im about to share  arent only for increasing diversity – theyre  good guidelines for reaching out to anyone.     
  14. 14. 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   
  15. 15. 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...”    
  16. 16. Talking to people effectively ● Define your purpose ● Plan an event or  meeting ● Who is your target?  ● Make it personal   
  17. 17. Define your goal Its hard to invite people in  when you cant articulate  what youre inviting them to.    
  18. 18. Stay on message ● Be up front about  your goal ● Keep attention  getting measures  thematically related  ● Consider #off­topic  or beer afterwards   CC­BY – photogirl7 on flickr  
  19. 19. 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   
  20. 20. Planning your event...  A public place  ● ●  Entice people with    snacks ● Make a plan and         stick to it CC­BY Tomi Tapio on flickr   
  21. 21. 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  
  22. 22. Perception & Recruitment ● Its easy to recruit  yourself ● Stereotypes ● “Just another  member” vs.  “unicorn”     CC­BY­SA smws on Flickr
  23. 23. 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    
  24. 24. Theyre here! Now what?  ● Run good meetings  ● Follow up with people  ● Analyze what you just did ● Improve it for next time!    
  25. 25. A few things to remember  ● Introductions as opportunity ● Thank people constantly  ● Use inclusive language ● Have next steps ready   
  26. 26. Growing  Think of your new  participants as  seedlings, theyll  need care and  feeding ­­ but not  smothering.    CC­BY – Rev Stan on flickr  
  27. 27. 90% of organizing is follow­through   
  28. 28. 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!    
  29. 29. Share the work  ● Work is “digital” ● Baby factor ● Burnout factor ● Documentation  CC­BY – Steven Depolo on flickr   
  30. 30. 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
  31. 31. Fostering Leadership ● Recognition: free  and awesome ● Reward people  with more  responsibility ● Teach/empower  people to recruit  others CC­BY – moonlightbulb on flickr   
  32. 32. One on Ones● Build accountability● Listen ● Make it better● Stay on topic   CC­BY – Anya Logic on flickr   
  33. 33. 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  
  34. 34. Want more?  ● Email me, deb@eximiousproductions.com● Free software organizing resources   http://groups.fsf.org/wiki/Womenscaucus/resources● “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinski     

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