[Linux-aus] The Ada Initiative - Should Linux Australia support it?

Silvia Pfeiffer silvia at silvia-pfeiffer.de
Mon Feb 21 23:02:55 EST 2011

I too believe that a discussion on the list would have been useful and I
think it should and can still happen, because I think it will be good for
the Ada Initiative to clarify their position and offerings in the community
and such a discussion will be very helpful.

However, I don't think we need to make it such a big issue that the council
made a decision for the community without consulting everyone beforehand.
After all, we have elected this council to do work for us and we need to
give them some leeway with decisions. We wouldn't expect the Australian
government to discuss every expenditure that they have (not even the
substantial ones) on a public mailing list where every citizen gets to give
their input. Instead, we have the elections as a means to give our opinions.
I know this comparison is a bit pear-shaped, because we are a small enough
community that such communication can happen, but we also have to give the
council - our elected representatives - some trust to make the right
decisions as our representatives.

This decision here obviously seemed a no-brainer for the concil and we
should give them the benefit of the doubt. As they are being transparent on
their decisions with mailing minutes to the mailing list, we obviously have
the chance to say - hold on, this decision doesn't seem to be such a
no-brainer to me, let's discuss. And then we can discuss, as we are doing.
But we certainly don't want to take away their possibility to do good for
the community where the council as a group decides it is a good idea.

Maybe in future where there are donations under discussion, an email should
go out with an announcement that the council is planning to make this
donation, with a sentence explaining why the council thinks this donation is
a good idea, and a one or two week deadline for the community to make a case
against it if they object. Note that this would be a new policy and process
that previous councils did not have to follow and this council can take on
as a lesson learnt from this incident for itself and for future councils.

This issue has only happened because this council is actually trying to take
some initiative and find some good ways of doing stuff that will ultimately
serve the community, so let's not kill their well-meant initiative in the
first month of their activity through being overly critical. Let's instead
have a discussion about it as though the decision has not been made and see
where that takes us.


I for one whole-heartedly support this initiative (after having learnt what
it is about). We are one of the countries with the least female
participation in ICT and being in open source doesn't help either. Being one
of the only women in the areas that I work in, I know what it means to have
to stand up and show your value against sometimes very stupid prejudices.
More often than once have I been taken as the "secretary" or the "clue-less
organiser" and with some people it's a hopeless undertaking to try and make
them see that women can be just as excellent in technology as men. (One of
my professors at university refused to give me a decent examination saying
that women belong into the home, with children and worrying about church -
it didn't stop me though, but I had to learn to deal with such situations).

So, I would love to see the Ada Initiative succeed in increasing the
encouragement, welcoming, acceptance, tolerance and involvement of women in
ICT. I personally see education as a key activity.


On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 7:27 PM, Brent Wallis <brent.wallis at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi,
> Let me first pretext with the fact that I support the idea.
> However, posts so far indicate that that there is an uneasy feeling about
> the matter.
> I have just read this article:
> http://www.linux.com/news/enterprise/biz-enterprise/410922-news-ada-initiative-supports-women-in-free-software
> <http://www.linux.com/news/enterprise/biz-enterprise/410922-news-ada-initiative-supports-women-in-free-software>Which
> points to this:
> http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/newss/7293/1/
> <http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/newss/7293/1/>In which is
> contained these 2 consecutive paragraphs:
> *
> "The current plan is to find funding for two years' full time work for at
> least Aurora and Gardiner. Others may be hired as funding permits, or for
> special projects.
> "We're hoping to rely on corporate donations, probably with some early
> funds raised through individual donations" says Gardiner. The Ada Initiative
> has already announced its first sponsor, Linux Australia, and its founders
> hope to announce other sponsors shortly."
> LA in the past have required individuals to tout their cause on list when
> requesting donations...
> Why oh why has this happened without there being community discussion?
> What have I missed?
> Can no one see how this could work against the intent?
> Rgds
> BW
> *
> On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 6:37 PM, Mike Carden <mike.carden at gmail.com>wrote:
>> As the person properly recorded in the Council meeting minutes as
>> having proposed this, I feel I ought to comment.
>> First and foremost, I'd like to thank AJ and others for quickly
>> putting up a Red Flag on our actions. You're right. We did fail to
>> consult properly with the membership. No question. I apologise for
>> that.
>> For myself, I can only say that my enthusiasm for the project and my
>> knowledge of its two principal driving forces (Mary and Valerie) made
>> it a no-brainer. If ever there was a project worthy of the support of
>> LA, this is one.
>> You may note that last year I supported Brendan Scott's project to
>> look at licensing issues and the Trade Practices Act. Again, I
>> supported the idea based on what I knew of Brendan. He delivered.
>> I spent the first 20 years of my working life in private industry and
>> developed my instincts there. In that context, The Ada Initiative is
>> something I'd jump to support instantly. For the last seven years I
>> have worked in the public sector where the norm would be 5 white
>> papers, a costed business plan, a Project Initiation Document, a risk
>> register, a Capital vs Operational budget, 27 sub committees and a
>> partridge in a pear tree. So I went with my former experience but I
>> acknowledge that we should have considered parts of the latter.
>> Let's think for a moment about what it costs to get this going. How
>> much would you have to pay to get two people to work on something full
>> time? Be conservative and assume they each give it half their
>> attention. So that might be one Full Time Equivalent (FTE) person. In
>> your workplace, how much does one FTE cost per annum? In Oz, the
>> Bureau of Stats thought that $77,761 was average a year or so ago.
>> Five K from LA won't make a big hole in that.
>> So I have nailed my colours to the mast and I welcome constructive
>> discussion.
>> --
>> MC
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