[Linux-aus] State representation on the board

Jeff Waugh jdub at perkypants.org
Thu Jan 8 20:21:02 UTC 2004

<quote who="Anthony Towns">

> To be specific: I had no way of helping with the l.c.a '05 selection
> because I didn't know about it all;

This is a specific case, and one that I too am not happy about (I just
hadn't expressed that publically yet). Here's why: In previous years, the
tradition was to select the location *at* the conference, so everyone could
sit down and have a good chat about it, and nut it out together. That didn't
happen this year. Hugh sent a mail to the list saying a location had been
chosen, but didn't even state who. I have the sneaking suspicion it's

I am unhappy with this on two counts. First, it was an unannounced break
with tradition. I thought that tradition was very important, so I probably
would have brought up my disagreement with it were the change proposed. But,
if the reasons behind it were good, I probably would have supported it. As
it stands, a choice was made, no one even knows who yet, and ho one had the
opportunity to express concern about the change in tradition before it was

Note: I am lame because I didn't respond to this as soon as it happened. I
should have done that.

> 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.

*snip other examples*

You do. They are the committee. They answer to the community. They are known
to the community. You have IRC, this list, people who live near them, the
committee mailing list, and you can easily get their phone numbers too. When
you say "no one to talk to" it really means that you didn't use the possible
methods of following these things up to your best advantage.

> > 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.

"not kickarse enough"? Seriously, if you guys want to get elected, you have
to get involved. No one elects an unknown Debian Project Leader or President
of SLUG. It just doesn't happen. Make an impact. It *doesn't matter* where
you are from.

> 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 don't think that has any relation to locality.

> > 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.

Totally agree.

> 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.

Disagree, as you well know.

> > 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.

You can mail the committee. You can mail Pia in public. You can shame the
committee on the public mailing list. You can probably reach me more easily
than Pia, and I would be happy to give you (not everyone) her phone number.
Pia doesn't regularly go to SLUG. Pia doesn't regularly read the SLUG list.
Most people in SLUG don't really know who she is. I would strongly suggest
that they have as much access to her as you do. But it's a matter for *you*
and anyone else to make that contact. It really doesn't matter if the person
is in the same city or not, we do most of this stuff electronically anyway.

> > > 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.

That is the locality that is important to me: Australia.

> 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"
> game.

I strongly disagree. The locality specific stuff is dealt with per-locale,
via the independent linux.conf.au organising team and LUGs. What LA does
isn't locale-specific, other than the locale of "Australia". It's function
as a meta-organisation for the community and LUGs can be dealt with in media
that are also non-locale-specific. It is the *LUGs* who do the local work,
and deal with the local issues, and they are a big input factor on anything
that LA would do locally.

Example: If LA were to host an event in Sydney, I'd get really snotty if
SLUG weren't involved, even though I have no official capacity with SLUG any
more. I would mail the LA list and say, "Dudes, I'm really disappointed in
this, why isn't SLUG involved? They are your hands in Sydney. That's pretty
unfair, and you are not making use of the people who matter on the ground."
And I would agree with anyone else, from any other city, who felt that LA
was behaving in the same way. (Also, I think that if LUGs are organising
stuff that may have a degree of interest nationally, they should get LA to
spread the word and help with the national meta stuff. Working hand-in-hand
without stomping on each other's toes. That'd be rad.)

I honestly think the real solution to your problems is to fix the openness
and transparency problems the committee has had this year. I understand that
it may be hard to do in the first year of newfound openness (LA was
previously either mired in public flamewars, not doing anything at all, or a
very closed non-community organisation). It's hard particularly when LA has
had to rebuild itself from square one due to the mistakes made in the past.

If the elected committee can fix that this year, LA will totally rock. I
think that's the source of your problems. Well, as well as you QLD dudes not
getting involved in the community enough. :-)

- Jeff

GVADEC 2004: Kristiansand, Norway                    http://2004.guadec.org/

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