Supporting the Ada Initiative

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I was so excited to be recently added to the Ada Initiative’s advisors. Perhaps coincidentally, it turns out that this week has been a time when the world demonstrates just how much we truly need the Ada Initiative.

I had my own personal negative experience this week. I posted my recap of my South By Southwest panel, in which I included a picture of me along with the other panelists, since I was wearing my copyright is censorship t-shirt from QuestionCopyright.Org. The very first comment I received on the post was a very specific comment about a part of my anatomy. While I suppose the comment in some sense could be considered complimentary, I instantly regretted having posted the picture. I deleted the comment and moved on, no big deal – but it reminded me of how off putting these things can be. I’m fairly thick-skinned now, but when I was younger, a comment like that could have just turned me off from blogging or even participating in this space at all. It was a fairly disheartening thing to happen, but reminded me all the more about how important the Ada Initiative and other efforts like it are for women in technology.

On a more significant level, as Lukas Blakk, another Ada Initiative advisor, has already blogged about today, there have been a couple of more serious situations of blatant sexism this week.

A tech company called Sqoot organized a hackathon in Boston, and included an overtly sexist advertisement for their event, luring the presumed male hackers by promising beer served to them by women. They further botched things through a weak apology.

The other incident involved a startup called Geekli.st, and a questionable video made to promote t-shirts with their logo. While made by a t-shirt company, and not geekli.st themselves, geekli.st’s t-shirts were prominently featured. The video has been taken down, but you can see how the twitter conversation about it went so badly.

As you can see, never has the Ada Initiative been so needed. The thing that impresses me the most about it (like the GNOME OPW, actually) is that it focuses on concrete and positive activities to improve the situation. Please spread the word about the Ada Initiative as a resource to all who may benefit from it, and consider making a donation.

I’m so thankful for the great GNOME community, for Marina’s amazing work and for the awesome mentors, interns and sponsors that participate in our Outreach Program for Women to make our community the kind of place where you’d want to shrug off the occasional negative comment to keep participating.

Some things I’ve been up to

It’s been an exciting and busy couple of weeks. Here are a selection of things I’ve done, so that you can see what I’ve been up to!

  • worked with Chun-Hung Huang (sakanamax) and the GNOME.Asia committee to choose a bid for GNOME.Asia, get emails and announcements ready, etc. This year GNOME.Asia will be in Hong Kong!
  • worked with Walter Bender and the nice folks at MIT about reserving rooms for the Boston Summit. It won’t be official for a little while, but it’s looking good.
  • participated in our GUADEC organizing meeting. We definitely need some more good ideas for keynoters so let me know if you have any ideas!
  • worked on some interviews, followed up with journalists. I’ve been so happy that my LCA talk continued to get press, but I’ve been sad that it’s meant that I’ve had to turn down some speaking opportunities – I’ve just been doing way too much travel and need to stay put at least for a little bit to get some work done (I feel like I’m always playing catch up). The next public speaking I have lined up is a free culture panel at SXSW, which I’ll be taking some vacation to attend (it feels funny to be taking vacation to speak at yet another conference, but it’s work for QuestionCopyright not GNOME, and besides I can attend a lot of the music performances! The next GNOME related speaking I’ve got lined up is LibrePlanet2012!
  • worked with Rosanna on GNOME’s Form 990 (and asked a lot of questions of our accountant!)
  • started fundraising for the next OPW round with potential new sponsors
  • worked on the biannual report
  • contacted schools for the blind and deaf to see if we could develop any partnerships with our accessibility campaign. Worked with Juanjo Marin on another story for the FoG campaign (coming soon!)
  • worked with Aaron Williamson of SFLC about fixing a bug in GNOME’s bylaws.
  • did some research and looked into trademark implications of uses of logos in Boxes for Zeeshan
  • contacted Hylke Bons, who confirmed explicit permission to use the adorable robot logo he designed for GNOME 3
  • nagged various people about various things
  • thanked various people for various work. I’m always astounded by how awesome our volunteers are! We have to estimate the number of volunteers GNOME has for our afore mentioned Form 990 report, and it’s amazing how quickly the number adds up – thank you to volunteers who organize events around the world, who spend their time staffing the booths at those conferences, who compose our awesome sysadmin team, and our dedicated marketing team, who volunteer to be on our board, who run the outreach program for women and who mentor new contributors in all all out outreach programs, who write documentation, who contribute articles for our reports and press, and of course, who contribute on a volunteer basis to our code base!
  • recorded and published an oggcast on Ambjörn Elder’s talk from FOSDEM entitled Methods of FOSS Activism. I apologize for the crummy quality of my audio – I didn’t realize my gain was so high
  • helped coordinate getting GNOME Do their freenode channel, with SEJeff and Sri’s help!
  • communicated with a few advisory board members, and a potential advisory board member
  • followed up on overdue invoices to the GNOME Foundation

My recent activities

I’ve been a bit remiss at posting, due to my travel schedule (and more recently thanksgiving with relatives from out of town and the like). Last week I went to Latvia to keynote at the LATA conference in Riga. Perhaps not surprisingly to readers here, I spoke (in English) about software freedom and how the software that we should consider essential has expanded considerably. GNOME of course features into that prominently. You can see the video of the talk here. Thanks so much to Rūdolfs Mazurs, who in addition to filming the talk, sat next to me during most of the conference and translated from Latvian! He was such a good translator that I was even able to ask questions and feel fully engaged in the sessions. It was an exciting conference, and I was glad to hear folks who are active with free software in Latvia say in their talks that “GNOME Shell is the future”.

Not too long before LATA, I was able to attend UDS in Orlando. It was a very interesting conference, and I was sponsored by Canonical to attend. I had quite a number of productive meetings with GNOME and Canonical folks there and particularly enjoyed getting to know some of the Ubuntu community members who are not Canonical affiliated. I had a few thoughts that came out of attending UDS that I hope to give their own posts.

While at UDS, I interviewed Adam Dingle from Yorba for the Free as in Freedom oggcast. We talked about free software nonprofits, software freedom generally and the great work that Yorba is doing (you probably know them from their Shotwell photo manager software).

I also interviewed Stefano Zacchiroli, the DPL of Debian. That episode was just released today. We talked about Debian, GNOME and copyleft, and there’s a discussion about the interview with me and Bradley as well.

I’ve also been mentoring a few tasks for Google’s Code-in. I was happy to help GNOME get accepted to the program and now we’re starting to see the benefits. Thanks to Andre Klapper for all of his ongoing hard work!

While on the road I helped Marina to organize and get ready to announce the new round of participants in the Outreach Program for Women. We were able to include 12 participants this time, in a wide range of areas! I’m particularly excited, as I’m also a mentor for one of the participants. The actual work for the program begins in a couple of weeks, when you’ll start to see a lot of activity on the Planet from these ladies. It was a privilege to work with the sponsors of the program to solidify the announcement: A thousand thank yous to Google, Mozilla, Collabora, Red Hat and the GNOME Foundation itself.

I’m very happy to be home and not travelling for the next few weeks – there’s so much to be done! In particular, I’m looking forward to announcing a new Friends of GNOME program…