[Linux-aus] State representation on the board

Anthony Towns aj at azure.humbug.org.au
Thu Jan 8 19:54:02 UTC 2004

On Thu, Jan 08, 2004 at 09:43:49PM +1100, Jeff Waugh wrote:
> <quote who="Anthony Towns">
> > That doesn't mean the decision that was made was bad, but it does indicate
> > LA's not making use of all the resources it's got available to it, and
> > that's worth examining.
> "all" of the resources or the "best" resources? 

If you're going to buy a CD, do you only use the $50 notes you have,
or do you use the $20 notes too? Presumably you take into account all
the money you've got access to.

Likewise for LA -- you want to make use of everyone who's useful and
willing to contribute. But the only people you _can_ make use of are
the people who have some idea what's going on, and some way of getting
their voice heard. 

To be specific: I had no way of helping with the l.c.a '05 selection
because I didn't know about it all; and I've had no way of helping with
the donations or reformulating the scholarships, because I've had no
idea what's been going on nor anyone to talk to about it. Or take the
Digital Agenda Review stuff -- I did my best to follow that myself, and
to prepare useful summaries and so forth, trying to help organise a LA
response, and get one reply from Pia a week after trying to get some LA
involvement saying "we'll discuss it this week", then no further response,
or involvement from anyone else on the committee.

> I too would prefer to have a
> totally kickarse committee, regardless where they're from, than have what
> may be a lame committee made up of people who don't really care, but are
> there because of their locality. Consider this: You couldn't convince your
> other QLD friends to run, so you had to.

The main reason for this is that no one in Qld thinks LA particularly
matters. It's been a Sydney-obsessed thing forever, and whenever we try
to broaden its horizons, we get told we're not kickarse enough.

I think it's indicative that the only people to nominate themselves for
the officer slots are from states that had exec members this year. I
think it's also interesting that of the newbies, four applied for any
of the four officer slots, while ten (with an overlap of three) applied
for the three ordinary positions.

> I want *good* people on the committee, not people who live in certain
> places.

Why, exactly? What do you want Linux Australia to achieve? Do you think
it should just be a forum and an expense account that whichever seven
people get elected use to promote their pet projects for a year?

Personally, I don't think LA should be creating and leading, so much
as supporting and encouraging -- ie, finding people doing good things
already, and either helping other people repeat their success, or helping
them do the same thing bigger and better. I think that's the lesson
from l.c.a, and I don't think we can do it well, without LA having
representation in each state.
> While I am quite frustrated with the minutes issue, I don't see how having a
> member of the committee in your state would seriously help. 

Having someone you can _talk to_ is what helps. You, personally, don't
have a problem with the lack of minutes, because you can just ask Pia
what happened. Other people in SLUG can do the same, and other people
in Sydney can visit a SLUG meeting if they feel the need. It's not so
plausible to do that if you live in Brisbane.

> > In summary: we've got a choice, we can either have local involvement in
> > Linux Australia in six Australian capital cities, or not.
> Involvement is community-centric, not locality-centric. 

Communities are locality-centric. That's what LUGs are. More to the point,
stuff that isn't locality centric doesn't need LA, LA's needed for the
stuff that's specific to one particular locale - Australia.

> If you want to get involved, whereever you are, you can. 

My experience differs, as above.

With a local LA ctte member, if I'd thought the Digital Agenda stuff
was important enough, I could've pestered them easily enough in person,
and made sure I got an immediate response, found out where the LA
board actually stood (and how busy it was with complicated things it
couldn't talk about), and worked out exactly what could be done. But
with just email contact with people I've only met once or twice, that's
not possible.

> Corollary: I am involved in Debian, and I am not a Debian Developer, nor
> have a login on a Debian machine, nor have any official leadership post in
> the Debian project. My contribution, commitment, interest and involvement is
> totally up to me and my energy to do something about it, and it doesn't
> matter where Martin lives. *That* is how a community, and I would hope LA,
> works.

The reason Debian works so well for you is that there's very little
activity that *you* can't take part in. You can subscribe to the lists,
lurk on irc, look at the source and the changelogs, poke through CVS,
etc [0]. With Linux Australia, that's not the case: most of the activity is
locale based, whether it be linux.conf.au, or a LUG meeting, or chatting
with some government types, or giving a talk at a conference in Geneva,
or a teleconference or face-to-face board meeting.

Given Debian can focus on technical issues, and Linux Australia is
substantially interested in more political issues, I don't really think
that LA can hope to match Debian in the "doesn't matter where you are"

> > Personally, I think as a first step we should increase the number of
> > ordinary ctte members to perhaps six or seven, so we don't have to make
> > choices like "drop Anand from the committee, or don't have any involvement
> > from one of ACT/South Australia/Queensland for a year".
> Well, this is precisely a choice that I will be making. I (and I believe,
> LA) will benefit far more from a fresh committee member from another state
> than I (and I believe, LA) will from Anand continuing on in the committee.
> And as a voting member, that is my prerogative. I can make that choice. If I
> were unable to make that choice, I'd be pretty annoyed.

That's understandable. Personally, I'm annoyed that I can't choose "Keep
Anand on the committee, and have representation for every state possible."

(For reference, I don't really like quotas, and I'm inclined to think
with a few extra slots up for election this wouldn't be a problem. I'm
also inclined to think that this doesn't need a permanent solution
with any great urgency. But on the other hand, I think this issue --
local representation being useful above and beyond just diversity and
new blood -- is worth a bit more serious consideration, and some more
persuasive support, than I think it's been given so far.)


[0] And most of the problems you'll have, as a sponsored non-maintainer,
    or as a registered developer, are likely to be the things where that's
    not the case -- like making uploads, or trying to deal with things
    where you don't have timely access to all the applicable information.
    Try fixing the delays in the BTS when they're caused by exim, and
    you can't run mailq, eg. Or uploading a timely fix to one of your
    packages when you can't find a sponsor.

Anthony Towns <aj at humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

               Linux.conf.au 2004 -- Because we can.
           http://conf.linux.org.au/ -- Jan 12-17, 2004
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