After London I flew down to Stuttgart for ApacheCon Europe 2005 where I was the second keynote speaker. I gave a talk called "Strategic Commons: Open Source in the Developing World". The slides should be up on the ApacheCon website real soon now.
This is getting to be a very popular topic (which is gratifying after spending years feeling like the only one who was doing talks about anything outside of Europe or North America). My fellow OSI Board member, Sanjiva Weerawarana is giving a similar talk at OSCON next week, and then I'll be doing my version of the talk again at EuroOSCON .
Anyway, while at ApacheConEU I was asked to give a lightning talk on "Women in Open Source" and many, many conference attendees wanted to talk with me afterwards about it. Interesting to have such a short talk garner so many comments. I guess I should be used to it by now. Its evidently a controversial topic. I'd moderated a panel at Grace Hopper last year on the subject (see notes here by an attendee at that panel, Sarah Allen), and I'm moderating one at OSCON by the same name.
When working on pulling together the OSCON panel, I spoke with many of the women I know about their experience. That meant contemplation about whether there is a "female experience" of open source and whether the question is one we need to ask. My former OpenSolaris boss, Claire Giordano, wrote some yesterday about what one of those conversations brought up for her and it really maps to my own journey in thinking about the topic. I hate it that I have to identify myself as a woman in a field where gender bias should not exist...but it does.
As a result of the response I got from the lightning talk at ApacheCon EU, I got to meet Jean T. Anderson, a woman committer on the Apache Derby project. Jean and I formally suggested creation of an Apache-Women mail list to improve on the number of women who try to join and actually end up sticking around Apache.
Whether the mail list is approved by Apache board is still in debate, but I'm encouraged by the results the Debian-Women list seems to be having. I'll keep you all posted.
Spent the weekend in London, one of my very favorite cities in the world. The weather was so beautiful, lifting spirits after the terrible suicide bombings. I was staying at a hotel in Leicester Square, so got to see Johnny Depp slinking out of a silver SUV at the London Premier of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The park was redecorated as Oompa Loompa land...wonder what that cost?
And the very next day, met up for lunch with my good chum Zaheda Bhorat, who has just joined the open source team at Google! Fit in a quick visit to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Tate Modern for lunch. Very cool "guide" on a PDA for this show, which I'd heard about from some Americans who saw the show. A great example of rich content that could be repurposed on the web for education, IMHO.
Then spent a couple of hours chatting with some nice folks at the British Computer Society Open Source Special Interest Group about FOSS licensing and why the world doesn't need yet another license. I'm having this conversation far too often these days as open source spreads around the world. Understandable next stage of license proliferation, I suppose...since the first 5 years was all about North American projects wanting their own individual licenses...why not spend the next 5 years working through the individual license aspirations of every country or jurisdictional region? Most troubling to me is the apparent perception that OSI is only for North America. Obviously we need to work harder to point out the global participation on our board.
This week I'm in Helsinki at my first DebConf (although its the fifth one for many of the people in this picture)
Another great grass-roots project conference is this DebConf. Had a fine dinner with some of the leaders of the mother project (and its manyfamous and less famous distros). Very interesting to try to figure out all of the subtextual connections and history between and around all of it. I'm feeling a bit like Rip Van Winkle, waking up after a few years (since I considered Debian very deeply) to discover a lot has changed.
I also have been noticing the many lovely Debian Women wandering around this conference, and I just subscribed to their mail list. I like the proactivity of their involvement in this community very much. There are more women (and they are mostly well-informed on technical issues) than I'm used to encountering at FOSS conferences.
We just watched Mark Shuttleworth speak to most of the conference attendees about Ubuntu and the impact he believes it is having on Debian. The Q&A went far into the lunch break, its clearly a big topic. Interestingly enough Mark was partially there to debunk rumors resulting from his announcement last week about endowing a Foundation to preserve Ubuntu. He believes he's set it up and funded to last for "at least a technology generation".
This has me thinking, because last night at dinner Mark, B'Dale Garbee and I were talking about "How long we think it will take for FOSS software to take over". Mark thought it would take a whole generation. The nice lady who happened to be sitting next to us thought that maybe technology adoption cycles were compressing and that there was a shorter generation than the one we usually mean when we say generation (defined by the human reproductive cycle)...she said that Grandparents are learning from their Grandkids about technology now. Certainly that's happened to my Mom.
The last thing Mark said to me last night was that he thought I'd like spending time getting to know the Debian community. So far, so good :-)