[Linux-aus] Re: [LACTTE] Vision for LA

Stewart Smith stewart at linux.org.au
Mon Oct 31 15:49:14 UTC 2005

On Fri, 2005-10-21 at 08:56 +1000, Pia Waugh wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'd like to propose something of a personal vision for LA. LA has gotten to
> a point in just under 3 years where we have achieved much as a community:

all good things - we still have a way to go in some areas though. But
honestly, we're in a good place for the amount of time we've been
working on it.

> I guess we've achieved most of what I set out to try and do in 2003, and
> I've been delighted to see that so many people share a vision of a strong
> national org that supports and promotes our community with some awesome
> teams and individuals involved :) So the question is, where to from here?

I think one of the "where to" places we can go is a better now. If we
can fix up some things (e.g. org structure, sponsor relations, finance
people) i think we'll be in a much better place to expand.

Yes, i realise these things are totally, totally boring. Which is why we
will need to bottle your enthusiasm and share it around :)

Can we walk and chew gum at the same time (erect solid base while
expanding)? It's what we've been doing for the past few years - so I
think so. However, I think we also have to watch out for scope.

Of course, now i'm stating the obvious :)

> I see Linux Australia as becoming something of an umbrella org for a series
> of specialised SIG sub-cttes, such as an education sub-ctte, a press
> sub-ctte, anything looking to achieve great stuff under the banner of the
> Aussie Linux/FOSS community and with the organisational support of LA. This
> would empower people to do more of what they do best, and it would give our
> community even more of a voice that is diverse and loud. I think that there
> has been a lot of pressure on the committee in the past to just "do" things,
> when they are really trying to facilitate others to rock on :) I think there
> are many very motivated individuals with great ideas, and my thought is that
> you don't have to be on the committee to "do" something, on the contrary you
> should be using LA and its resources to help you kick ass in whatever you
> want to do. This means the org scales very fast, and can achieve much more
> than the sum parts of the committee itself.

"umbrella org" can be scary for some people - it can bring images of
taking over. But anybody that's actually spoken to us won't get that
idea... but we don't want to scare. even though "umbrella org" is
possibly the best phrase.

i like to think of them as teams rather than SIGs or sub-cttes. As
really what we're wanting is groups of doers.

i think we've come a long way in the past 18months especially in getting
the "ctte aren't here to do everything" message across. It is still
absent a lot in some LUGS - i don't know how we get that message out
there as well though.

It's interesting reading planet.gnome atm with foundation stuff and the
phrase "popularity contest".

> What do others think? It seems to me to be a logical progression, and it
> means that LA truly becomes a community org, run by and molded by the
> community it serves on a larger scale. We have a precedent for this working
> very well - linux.conf.au - every year a new sub-ctte with a specific goal
> that does it brilliantly with the support of the LA ctte. If that model
> works, lets replicate it :)

it does work and it has problems. hopefully we can end up looking at the
HOWTO and expanding LA-LCA relationship bits so that we won't have a
bunch of these problems with other projects in the future.

> I guess that I feel whilever we are outsourcing the things we don't do well
> (eg - accounting) but continue to run on the enthusiasm and energy of a
> volunteer base, then we will always be dynamic, and reflective of our
> community and its direction. We need to consider growth, and I feel that we
> can grow organically without burning people out by leveraging more people in
> specific sub-cttes to do cool stuff, leaving to main ctte to keep things
> running, ensure everyone has the support and resources they need.

as Andrew has pointed out "outsourcing" may be the wrong word here. But
there's certainly things we just aren't good at but still need to be
done. How we deal with these is going to be a big test of our org.

> I also see the two core events of LA being the conference, and Software
> Freedom Day. They are usually going to be ~6 months apart and encompass
> between them our technical and community roots and values. SFD also gives us
> a chance to get our values out to a broader audience, to recruit and
> continue to grow our community (this should be at the top of LUG minds atm,
> how to qualitatively grow their local communities), as well as help some
> people out who may not have heard of how FOSS can help them otherwise :)

While I have been sceptical of SFD (I'm currently sitting in a coffee
shop in Brisbane looking out the window at a nice - both looking and in
manner - Hare Krishna girl approaching people in the street. It's a hard
gig and people are often very dismissive). I've always wondered what
makes us different from them given the seemingly low success rate.

ALC's comments after the last SFD may be changing my mind a bit though.
It seemed that a lot of people were very receptive and just didn't even
know of the existence of Free Software.

Reconciling this with the "Shouldn't vendors be doing this" feeling is
an interesting one. As well as my rather intense distaste for preaching
and people trying to convert me to $whatever. I am interested in
discussing these things - it's an interesting one.

I use the Hare Krishna example as they always seem polite (a lot of
other groups aren't - e.g. somebody raving about how I was obviously
going to hell for leading a sinful life out of a loud megaphone. Got to
love Flinders St station at night). Shouting at people for not using
Free Software is obviously a no-no. It would certainly turn me off it.

How much advocacy should we be doing? it's a tricky one. My thoughts are
full of contradictions - but I do encourage discussion and debate. I am
certainly not going to hinder or discourage enthusiasms though.
Facilitating enthusiasms is the name of the game!

Stewart Smith (stewart at linux.org.au)
Committee Member, Linux Australia
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