Line-up pour Ignite Lyon finalisé

community, francais, freesoftware, home, humour, marketing, running, work Comments Off on Line-up pour Ignite Lyon finalisé

Je viens de finaliser aujourd’hui les présentateurs pour l’inauguration de Ignite Lyon. Les sujets sont assez diverses, du vache à lait à l’informatique bio en passant par la course à pied et l’art libre. Pour ceux qui sont plus du tendance entrepreneur, nous avons également des présentations sur la démarche commerciale ou créer sa première boîte jeune.

Voici la liste des présentateurs pour ce premier Ignite Lyon en order alphabétique, sauf modifications de dernier minute:

Avec une salle qui prendrai autour de 100 personnes, les places risquent d’être chères, même si l’entrée est libre!

Je vous suggére vivement d’être à votre place dans la salle D101 de l’Université Lyon 2, Quai Claude Bernard, à l’ouverture des portes à 18h30 jeudi prochain le 4. Les festivités commenceront vers 19h, jusqu’à 20h30 à peu près, avec une pause pipi au millieu.

Vous pouvez également vous inscrire pour manger un bout après l’événement au Chevreuil, ou nous allons nous retrouver quor quelques boissons raffraichissantes à partir de 20h30.

Vous pouvez trouver plus d’informations sur le site Ignite Lyon. A la semaine prochaine!

Putting Oracle a11y news in perspective

community, freesoftware 10 Comments

Oracle laying off GNOME contributors is certainly bad news for the project. It’s particularly bad news because Willie Walker, one of my favourite GNOME contributors, is now out of a job.

I just want to put this in perspective, though. In 2007, IBM made deep cuts in its support of GNOME accessibility, affecting contributors such as Peter Parente, Eitan Isaacson and Aaron Leventhal, who are no longer paid to work on GNOME accessibility work. The IBM cuts were perhaps deeper than those that Oracle are announcing right now (but I suspect that we’re not finished hearing bad news from Oracle). So we’ve been through this (and worse) before.

Next, it’s not all bad news on the accessibility front: other distributions are carrying a small amount of the accessibility mantle (Ubuntu, OpenSuse), with projects like MouseTweaks being funded by Canonical, the Inference lab in Cambridge has been funded for some projects (Dasher, OpenGazer (the newer development of OpenGazer is not yet available for download)) through the AEGIS project, and of course as others have noticed, the Mozilla Foundation has repeated its accessibility grant of the last two years to the GNOME Foundation, and supporting Orca is part of its accessibility roadmap. Mozilla has also funded work to port AT-SPI from Orbit to DBus, and other work on Orca and Accerciser.

So there are people who care about accessibility in GNOME, and there appears to be a potential for funding for accessibility work, for the right people with the right contacts and the right projects.

Perhaps it’s time for the GNOME Foundation to start seeking funds from government bodies, other public institutions and private funding to fund accessibility work for the greater good? I know that we’re currently raising funds for a sysadmin, and have not yet reached the level of support where we can make that position a regular fixture, but accessibility is different.

No one player is willing to put enough funding into accessibility to properly support Orca, gok, Dasher, AT-SPI, Accerciser, MouseTweaks, keyboard accessibility tools like SlowKeys and StickyKeys, and so on – but perhaps there are lots of people who are willing to support a project for a specific feature, or general stability & bug fixing work for a11y on the desktop?

If there is no commercial justification for a company like Oracle to pay two people to work full time on free software accessibility, then it’ll be a hard sell to any other company. But perhaps the GNOME Foundation could bear two full time accessibility employees with targeted grants working on a public roadmap? Raising $250,000 – $300,000 a year for accessibility from grants doesn’t sound that hard.

But then, maybe I’m nuts…

Ignite Lyon: A new adventure

community, francais, home Comments Off on Ignite Lyon: A new adventure

I’m a big fan of short-form presentations, and I like to give one whenever I get a chance. I also like to encourage others to do them for other conferences I’ve organised or run, like  GUADEC, the Maemo Summit or Fostel (site seems to be down now – shame).

I’ve been an admirer from afar of Ignite for years, for the variety and quality of the presentations that you find at their events, and seeing Global Ignite Week announced a few months ago, around the same time that PLOSS Rhone-Alpes started coming together gave me an excuse to do what I’ve wanted to for a while, and host an Ignite Lyon event! The inaugural Ignite Lyon will be held on March 4th in Université Lyon 2 on the quais.

For those unfamiliar with the Ignite talk format, you get 5 minutes for your talk – 20 slides, which advance automatically every 15 seconds. There are lots of Ignite videos on the site.

Once again I’m teaming up with Vincent Mabillot from Colibre, with whom I co-organised Richard Stallman’s recent stop in Lyon last month, and François Aubriot from PLOSS R-A and DotRiver, as well as all of the members of ALDIL and PLOSS R-A who have time to give in this busy month (in addition to school holidays, ALDIL and Colibre are once again participating in the conference Primevere and the week-long “Libre en fête” festival of free software).

I’m looking for presenters! I want to hear cool stuff – personal passions, unusual hobbies or projects, complete with pitfalls and tiny successes that led to a fun conclusion, advice on how to handle difficult problems we all meet, tips on reducing your carbon footprint, how your non-profit group made a difference in your neighbourhood, cries of passion for people to stop doing something you care about *wrong*. Ignite is not just IT, and that’s what I love about it. I will be giving a presentation myself called “hacking your body”, talking about running as performance testing for real life. Of course, it’s also IT, so the geekier and cooler your project, the better :-) If you’re into soldering your own chopper bicycles, I want to hear about it.

As you’ve figured out, I want to hear from you if you have something interesting to say. We’re expecing 100 people from a range of backgrounds, including entrepreneurs, hackers, makers, DIY fans and general geeks & freaks (in the nicest sense). If you want to submit a talk, please use the online form I set up.

Learning how to fund-raise from other non-profits

freesoftware, gnome, marketing 2 Comments

More and more we’re seeing organisations outside the free software world  try to learn the lessons of our success, and integrate “open source” practices into their organisation.

Whether it’s companies adopting transparency and other cluetrain or pinko marketing strategies, proprietary software development companies integrating standard free software practices, or one of the other areas where “crowdsourcing” has become the cool new thing, it’s obvious hat we have gotten some things right, some of the time, and it is definitely worth learning the right lessons from projects like Linux, Mozilla, GNOME, or Wikipedia, and trying to reproduce the magic elsewhere.

Sometimes this feels like the cargo cults in the Pacific Islands, trying to make airplanes land as their ancestors saw 60 years ago, by building airstrips and imitation airplanes. But at least they’re trying to figure out what makes our communities successful.

But are we learning enough lessons from others? It seems to me like we’re charging head first like sharecroppers into undiscovered country, only to find that we’ve run into a highly advanced civilisation.

As developers, we’ve invented our own brand of everything, from scratch. We figure out how to run conferences, or raise money from people who like what we do, when these are not new problems.

This isn’t new in IT. The entire learned history of typography got thrown out the window more or less, because with the advent of WYSIWYG editors and the web, everyone has complete control of their authoring tools and Comic Sans is shipped by default, and if I need to reduce the margins to get the letter to fit on one page then by golly I will.

Merchandising and recruitment of new star talent are more examples of things that some other organisations are pretty good at.

So – as an open question – are we learning the lessons from the past which we should be learning, or is it too attractive to think that what we’re doing is so new that every problem we encounter needs a new solution?

One example of a place where there is a wealth of experience out there is convincing people to give money to a cause they believe in. There are dozens of organisations that do this well – humanitarian organisations, political lobbyists, political parties, universities – the list goes on.

Can we figure out how GNOME is like them, and learn the lessons from their fundraising campaigns?

A typical fundraising drive for an organisation like this has three main steps:

  1. Get a list of potential donors
  2. Convince them that you are doing good
  3. Find a pressure point or argument which will convince them to donate

If you look at a mailing for Médecins Sans Frontières for example, you see all of these points in action. Find potential donors – through sign-up campaigns, former donor drives, referrals. Send them a mail package, with a newsletter outlining good work, but with just enough bad news (new conflicts, new refugees, unfinished projects) and artwork (a smiling nurse taking care of a village vs a child ill from a curable illness) to show that money given to MSF will do good, and the need has never been greater.

Your response rate may be small – perhaps only 1% – but that’s enough.

Whether we’re talking about lobby groups, political parties or humanitarian agencies, the same strategies come into play – construct big databases of potential donors, and get them riled up about the thing they’re passionate about being endangered – show them the shining light of all the good work your organisation does, and then drive the sale home by making it really easy to give money or sign up.

University fundraising is an interesting case – and in fact, GNOME’s fundraising model ressembles it now. Your primary source of donations is alumni, people who have been through the university, like receiving updates every year, maybe a class-mate just became a professor, maybe a friend’s daughter got a prize in the annual awards ceremony, maybe a club or association you were in had a good year? And then you leverage the affection with the flip side of the coin – the need, the things we’d like to do better, the project we’re fundraising for which will allow us to do great work.

All of these organisations invest heavily in direct mailing, in building and maintaining databases of supporters, and in monetising them. I recently read a book by a direct mailing copywriter called “My First 40 Years in Junk Mail” and it opened my eyes to what works in that world – and also gave some ideas on the kinds of strategies maybe the GNOME Foundation should be adopting.

The first step  is building and maintaining a list of GNOME fans and supporters, by any means possible, and ensuring that they are made aware of what we’re up to and what we’d like to do. And, of course, continuing to build great products.