We're the face of open source

>> Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I had some interesting discussions on Twitter this afternoon.  

Wayne replied:

Miles said:

One of the great things about the Eclipse community: that we cooperate on open source projects yet compete on commercial products.  This slide from the Eclipse 10 years talk  that John Kellerman and I  recently gave shows the diversity of the CDT project by company.

Here's another slide where we talked about the fact that there weren't originally enough non-IBM committers on the Eclipse project.  I called this "Too much blue in the Eclipse rainbow".

Image ©darrentunnicliff, http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrentunnicliff/4510834607/  licensed under Creative Commons by-nc-sa 2.0

I'd like see a more diverse community at Eclipse and in open source in general.  To spread the word that it's a rewarding career and we have a wonderful community.  Also, I'd like to find more people to fix bugs :-)

Occupy Open Source: We are the 1%

I don't know if the percentage of women at Eclipse is really 1% but it's pretty low.*

Ian later tweeted

My response was that it would be interesting to focus on the person, where they had come from and what they work and work the technology into the discussion.  Show a picture of the person, what their educational background is, how they got involved in open source, and what they work on.  I think computer science and open source have an image problem.  People think that we software isn't a social endeavour.  And yet it is.  Hello GitHub.  That the work we do doesn't change the world and make people's lives better.  No again.

One of the ways to combat stereotypes tell stories from the perspective of the person. How they came to work in open source. The interesting projects they work on.  Talks they presented at conferences.  What they do in their spare time outside work. Curtis writes code for PDE but he also likes to kayak.  Susan works on Orion but also runs an organic farm.  Andrew writes Linux tools but he also has interesting travel adventures.  Eric works on the next generation Eclipse UI and wins pool tournaments.  Tom works on that too, and he likes to ski and hike near his home in Innsbruck.  Ian lives in Victoria, works on p2 and plays hockey.  Introduce the person, then move on to talk about the technology they work on :-)

Yesterday, Syzmon asked me if me if could use our Eclipse 10 Years talk at a demo camp in Poland. I thought that was fantastic.  Our talk delivered in another country, in a different language.  Go Creative Commons.

Putting these too ideas together, I thought it would be interesting to have a common slide deck we as a community could use at schools or universities called "We're the face of open source".  I think it's important to showcase the different paths people take to get to their careers.  And kids need to to see something of themselves reflected in people who work in the industry.  It doesn't matter if you're a man or woman, your ethnicity,  where you live, if you're gay or straight, have five kids or three dogs. The important thing is that you have a story that you want to share to inspire a new generation to consider contributing to open source. 


*1)This is not intended to be a statement for or against the Occupy movement.  I'm just trying to be funny. YMMV.
2) Standing out in the Crowd talk from OSCON 2009 has interesting numbers about open source diversity and the benefits it brings
3) I'm willing to help put the slide deck together in my spare time outside work.  We could use a Google Docs to allow multiple people to edit it. Maybe the slide deck could provide a list of Eclipse mentors that are willing to help out students fix their first bug, browse the source tree etc.  These are details.  Let me know if you are interested in contributing :-) 
4) This would make an interesting EclipseCon talk. Ten Eclipse committers/contributors you should know and why


EclipseCon Europe presentations now available

>> Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My presentations from EclipseCon Europe are now available on slideshare.

The first one is the story of the Eclipse and Equinox team's migration from CVS to Git.

There were a lot of great presentations on  Git migrations such as those by Steffen Pingel and Christian Campo.  One thing that I've learned is that the time to migrate is proportional to the size of your code base and history.  Someone asked me if we considered just starting in Git without our history. Well, no, but that would have solved a lot of problems. It was also interesting to talk to the EGit team, and meet some of the people working at GitHub. (Thanks for the octocat stickers Kevin!). In honour of Movember, this slide seems appropriate.

Image ©dealingwith, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dealingwith/4295488113/  licensed under Creative Commons by-nc-sa 2.0

The second talk I co-presented with John Kellerman. It's a look back at the last ten years of Eclipse history. I had several people come up to me after the talk and say they really enjoyed it. Thanks! It was fun to look back at Eclipse history and dig up funny pictures and bugs. I enjoyed presenting with John because he talked about the business side and I talked about the evolution of the Eclipse community from a down in the trenches commmiter perspective. A good balance. He has been involved in the Eclipse community since well before my time, lots of great stories!

You can also listen to the talk on FOSSLC website.  I love the fact that all the EclipseCon presentations were recorded. I plan to go back to and watch the sessions I missed!

A big thank you to the organizers of EclipseCon Europe for a fantastic conference. I've never attended one before, and was very impressed. Beautiful location, interesting talks, great running paths nearby and of course, the best people. It's great to be able to spend time with people who you work with but never get to see in person, like Ian Bull and Andrew Overholt. It was also great to meet new people at lunch and in the hallways.  I talked to some first time EclipseCon attendees who were very impressed with the caliber of talks at the conference so kudos to everyone who presented.

At the IBM booth, we pinned up many pictures of the Eclipse family over the past ten years. It was great to talk to people who visited the booth, especially those new the the Eclipse community.  I posted a link to them on my Google+ account. Looking back at them it's amazing to see so many smiling people.

It's hard to believe that it's been ten years. I had a number of people come up to me at the conference and say that they couldn't believe that I had been involved in the community for ten years. Well, I can't believe it either. It reminded me of the moment when I stood up on stage to receive my university diploma and I thought, how could these four years have gone so quickly?  I don't know but it's been a lot of fun.  By the way, here is a list of other committers who have been involved with Eclipse for ten years or more.

More importantly, there are now over a thousand Eclipse committers today.  I'm honoured to work with you all :-)

Presentations on slideshare:
Migrating to Git: Rethinking the Commit
Slideshare: Has it really been 10 years?
FOSSLC recording: Has it really been 10 years?
If you look at the speakers notes, you can see the text of the talk.  Most of the slides are just pictures in "Presentation Zen" style.


In open source, all you have is social capital

>> Monday, November 14, 2011

Over a month ago, I watched this keynote by David Eaves that he gave at DjangoCon. Yes, I'm way behind on the list of things I'd like to blog about. I blame Bugzilla :-) Also, quite a few people at EclipseCon Europe came up to me and mentioned that they really enjoyed reading my blog. Thanks - I enjoy writing!

David Eaves is a negotiation consultant. He helps people on opposite sides of an issue come to an agreement, and has clients in open data, government, industry, and open source communities. He has done work at Mozilla to help manage contributor engagement and implement measures to keep contributors working in the community.

He starts off by telling the story, that as part of of his work with Mozilla, he thinks that he should submit a bug. He submits his first Thunderbird bug and announces on Twitter or Facebook that he's excited to submit his first bug. To which he gets the reply "I bet it's a duplicate".  According to this presentation, 50% of all bugs are duplicates.  It may be a duplicate, but this response isn't the best approach to encouraging future participation from a new contributor.

He then says that most open source communities don't have financial capital.  They don't have money flowing in to influence people.  "All you have is social capital".  Social capital consists of the people that contribute to your community and make it successful.  In theory, in a corporation, human resources tracks how to retain and manage its people.  In open source, we spend very little time managing our social capital or even better, tracking  it.

He then continues that one of the mantras of open source is that it's a meritocracy and your coding skills are the key to success within the community.  But if you look at people who have spent a lot of time in an open source community and are considered leaders,  many of them spend a lot more time working with people and  managing their community as opposed to coding.  To which he says "We pull people in based on their coding skills, and we promote people based on their negotiation skills".  Also, he remarks that nobody tells us that, and that we all stress that technical skills trumpet negotiation skills despite the evidence to the contrary.

He then gives examples of funny or misunderstood Mozilla bugs.  He states how it's harder to communicate with people when only via the written word.  I find that myself.  I've met quite a few people at conferences who I've found to be rude in Bugzilla to only find that in person they seem like a totally different person.  Reasonable.  Friendly.  Helpful.  Anyways, since Bugzilla is a written medium he suggests that the best way to interact on it is to ask questions.  He states that often people just have a solution in mind as a bug fix and aggressively push their solution where in fact they should ask the user what they want to do in the first place.  Also, you should paraphrase and repeat what the user said to gain understanding, acknowledge the problem and advocate for a solution. All great advice!

The next section of the talk discusses the architecture of a community.  Fork used to be a four letter word in open source  But with the advent of GitHub, it's not, but rather a way to empower the user.  It also absolves you from seeking anyone's permission before contributing.  He says we need to design our communities to "Architect for cooperation and away from collaboration"  It's great if a new contributor can start fixing a problem without the transaction costs associated with interacting with a committer.  We can spend our time on other tasks.  He also states that we need to empower the lowest people on the stack, such as those triaging bugs.  He also remarks that immediately marking a bug as invalid without acknowledgement of the effort required to report it doesn't build community loyalty.

GitHub Octocat
Image ©sunfox, http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunfox/4365495446/  licensed under Creative Commons by-nc-sa 2.0

The final section of the talk described applying metrics to the show what is going on in a project.  To measure contributor patches from non-paid staff is a way to measure social capital.  To determine why people have stopped contributing.  To measure wait time for before a patch is submitted.  He also states that it would be interesting to have a repository API and once you attach a patch to a bug, it would update the bug with the anticipated  wait time, to set expectations for the reporter.  He states that Wikipedia segments users based on metrics and they applies actions, such as suggesting mentors for new contributors.

I think having metrics for new Eclipse contributors would be very interesting.  I rarely have people contributing patches to my bucket other than from other Eclipse or Equinox project committers, but I'm sure the metrics would be very interesting for other components.   It would also be valuable to determine the reason that people stop contributing, and implement measures to encourage people to continue to their involvement.

He finishes by stating that there needs to be a social infrastructure for the community, not just code.  Also, in some cases, you many need to remove people from the community to reduce negative social capital.  A great talk, I highly recommend  it - extremely informative and funny. 

David Eaves also blogs at http://www.eaves.ca on open data, open source and other interesting topics.
His keynote is here http://blip.tv/djangocon/keynote-david-eaves-5571777


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