Tag Archives: Seneca College

Open source fun, Open source problems…

I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Free-Software and Open Source Symposium (FSOSS) at Seneca college. I had a great time giving my talk on community management as the core competency of open source communities. The audience was really engaged and asked great questions – I just wish we’d had more time.

The talk was actually filmed and can be downloaded, but it is only available as an OGG file wihch is large (416Mb) but rumor has it they may get converted into a smaller more streamable format in the future. Once the video is available I’ll also post the slides.

Also, I want to thank Coop and Shane for blogging the positive feedback. I’m looking forward to building on and refining the ideas…

One of the key ideas I’m interested in pushing is how “open” open source communities are – and how they can make themselves easier to join. I actually had an interesting experience while at FSOSS that highlighted how subtle this challenge can be.

During one of the lunch breaks Mark Surman and I ran a Birds of a Feather session on Community Management as the Core Competency of Open Source Communities. In the lead up to the session, a leader of a prominent open source community (I knew this because it said so on his name tag) walked up to me and asked:

Are you running this BoF?” (Birds of a Feather)

Not being hip to the lingo I replied… “What’s a BoF? I’m not super techie so I don’t know all the terms.

To which he replied “Evidently.” and walked away.

And thus ended my first contact with this particular open source community. With its titular leader nonetheless. Needless to say, it didn’t leave a positive impression.

I’ll admit this is an anecdotal piece of data. But it affirms my thinking that while open source communities may be open – to whom they are open may not be as broad a cross section of the population as we are lead to believe (e.g. you’d better already know the lingo and cultural norms of the community).

There is another important lesson here. One that impacts directly the scalability of open source communities. At some point everyone has to have a first contact with a community – that first impression may be a strong determinant about where they volunteer their time and contribute their free labour. Any good open-source community will probably want to get it right.

Free Software and Open-Source Symposium

Friends! I want to make sure everybody and anybody who might be interested knows about the upcoming 6th annual Free Software and Open-Source Symposium in Toronto, this October 25-26th.

What is Open-Source? There is a good definition here.

Non-techies should not be shy… I (and I’m very non-techie, I couldn’t code if my life, quite literally, depended on it) for example will be talking about Community Management as the core competency of Open Source projects. While open-source is usually talked about in reference to software, the conference organizers are interested in open systems more generally, and how they can be applied in various fields. I’m interested in open-source public policy (which, if they’ll have me back, I’d like to talk about next year…) and others are interested in its application to theater, meeting design, etc…

For more information I would suggest the blog of David Humphrey, one of the event’s coordinators, where one can read about cool insider info (e.g. prizes) and juicy gossip (e.g. the public, but just, shaming of me for being delinquent in submitting my talk summary).

You can also check out the conference’s webpage, where you can find the agenda, a place to register and other info.

The Free Software and Open Source Symposium
October 25-26th, 2007 – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Seneca@York Campus, Toronto

The Symposium is a two-day event aimed at bringing together educators, developers and other interested parties to discuss common free software and open source issues, learn new technologies and to promote the use of free and open source software. At Seneca College, we think free and open source software are real alternatives.

OpenCities and Seneca College

As many of you know I’m deeply interested in Open-Source systems and so was super thrilled when David Humphrey invited me over to Seneca College for a reception at the Centre for Development of Open Technology (CDOT). Who knew such a place existed. And in Toronto no less! There is something in the air around Toronto and open-source systems… why is that?

This is exactly one of the questions those of us planning OpenCities are hoping it answers… (as our more formal blurb hints at)

What is OpenCities Toronto 2007? Our goal is to gather 80 cool people to ask how do we collaboratively add more open to the urban landscape we share? What happens when people working on open source, public space, open content, mash up art, and open business work together? How do we make Toronto a magnet for people playing with the open meme?

Registration for OpenCities starts today. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment box below, or, drop me an email. I’m doubly pumped since the whole event will be taking place at the Centre for Social Innovation – I can’t imagine a better space. (If you wondering – do I live in Toronto or Vancouver, I don’t blame you, I sometimes wonder myself).