October 29, 2010

Day 5 - Community Day (Live from UDS)



Gerry Carr's final thoughts from UDS, day 5...


It's not officially community day you understand, more that my focus has been on catching up on the community events, which I have been neglecting a bit this week. The Ubuntu community is justly famous as big, active and participative. One of the questions this week has been whether it is truly diverse.

I guess this falls into two areas - whether the community is welcoming of the multifarious people who do join, and whether it attracts a diverse range of people in the first place.

I have always thought of the Ubuntu Code of Conduct as an excellent document. Short but encompassing a lot of the core values and practices that allow for mass participation in a way that helps ensure continued involvement by members. Of course, the price of this adherence is eternal vigilance.

The session I attended today began by considering appropriate language and behavior on the forums and the IRC channels. There can be un-cool behavior, at-times unconscious insults traded. But from what I have seen, these are corner cases. It is still right to make sure that this type of behavior is invigilated and that there is no room for complacency, but in general there is pretty good observance of the code.

More problematic is attracting a diverse range of participants. This is across geography, gender, race, country, and also skill set. The latter I think is a more promising route, than a direct appeal to a demography, where it is very difficult to avoid sounding patronizing. The Ubuntu Beginners team, which I only discovered this week, recognizes that its current focus groups need extending.

As we expand the reach of Canonical, we want to plug into broader communities with different skills. Multimedia and creative artists have a natural home in Ubuntu. The Free Culture Showcase is stepping in that direction. We are reaching out to where the content producers hang out rather than waiting for them to reach us. Ultimately it would be great to see wider participation of these guys and girls in the Ubuntu Art Community.

Translators, educators, school children and students all have a natural home in Ubuntu too, I believe, and Edubuntu and a bunch of other efforts will continue to try and reach out to them.

There are many many, more, I don't doubt.

A further benefit of reaching out to groups who tend to be more mixed in gender and background than the Linux community is that it brings that diversity into the Ubuntu community. It will be interesting to watch these efforts develop.

But back to UDS. It's been a great week.

As I type, we are preparing to take the group photo, a memento for us all to remember where we were when we heard Unity was going to be the desktop interface. :-)

I've met lots of very interesting new people within Canonical and outside, and as ever I am struck by the level of eloquence, politeness and reason with which people put forward their views even where there is divergence.

Makes for a great event and makes for a great distro.

And that's it for another 6 months when it is hello Budapest.

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