This summer I’ve had my first travel by plane, which has been my first trip to Greece, where I’ve had my first in-person meeting with fellow GNOME contributors, by attending my first GUADEC. These were but some of my “first”-type achievements which made me very glad to have attended it, and happy to report on my experience.
The conference was very well organized, it had an excellent, enriching track of talks and workshops, and two inspiring keynotes. There was a good balance of topics from both the technical side and the human side of GNOME. This is suitable for attracting more people who, like me, are not (primarily) programmers. Indeed, there was always something interesting for me in at least one of the rooms. Congratulations and thanks to the organizers and everyone involved in making this conference.
Setting a Positive Voice for GNOME by Britt Yazel and About Maintainers and Contributors by Georges Stavracas were two non-technical talks of high importance and surprising connections to each other. GNOME contributors are not always prepared to the exposure to and interaction with the Internet populace outside. If not well managed, this gives rise to bad experiences which alienate both users and contributors. We need more talks like this to understand the problems and develop better communication strategies, promoting the well-being of our contributors and the public image of our community.
I’ve particularly anticipated the first keynote, GNU HEALTH: The Fight for our Rights in the Public Health System by Luis Falcón, because the subject is very dear to me, a big problem I’m facing every day at work. Dr. Falcón has put a lot of thought into the problem and is creating a solution, so I was very glad to listen to his talk and to talk with him and other people about this topic afterwards. I’ve decided to learn more about GNU HEALTH and how I can help change my country’s NHS software policy.
Renata Gegaj and Clarissa Borges gave talks on user research and usability testing, which built a lot of momentum to apply these practices more regularly into our design and development process. Later, in the BoF days, Renata was also kind enough to apply some of her expertise to review some usability issues in the Files app. And since the conference Clarissa has been building a usability testing team.
These were some personal highlights, but I’ve also attended or watched the recording of other great talks. I’ve participated in the Unconscious Bias workshop, which, in a playful manner, demonstrated how varied life experiences are, and how that may limit our perception in many cases; while I was already aware of some of my biases, I’ve become aware of a couple of new ones. In the BoF days I’ve helped with the Newcomers Workshop and participated in the Inclusion & Diversity one.
Besides attending talks and BoFs, I have also been involved as a volunteer. Unfortunately, on the first day I arrived too late for the volunteers’ meeting. Despite that, I was warmly welcomed by the organizers and other volunteers, and I was able to help with gathering the lunch tickets and assisting speakers in talks. It was my first time volunteering in a conference, so I’ve learnt a lot.
At the venue I also was able to meet fellow nautilus team members and other people I used to talk with online, watch Carlos Soriano and Cosimo Cecchi doing a live MR review for nautilus (even getting one of my own MR reviewed), and try a demo of GNOME in VR (courtesy of Lubosz Sarnecki). At first I didn’t know anyone, but soon Felipe Borges found me and introduced me to other people. The Bingo was a great way for new faces like me to approach and start a conversation with new people (I even won a souvenir!). The whole community was very welcoming to me, and people I admired were really down-to-earth human beings (which actually made me admire them more).
During my stay in Thessaloniki I got to eat delicious food (as expected of Greece!), taste greek wine and ouzo, do outdoor exercises, have a picnic in the mountain, see the sunset on a pirate boat, visit the Rotunda museum, and share special memories with great people.
For all of above, I’m thankful to the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring my attendance.