TL;DR: I attended my second GUADEC, got awarded the Community Appreciation Award, and still have questions about the future of conferences. Also, there is a ton of stuff coming up for the organization of apps within GNOME!
Berlin Mini GUADEC
Before GUADEC there was an astonishing Covid wave in Germany, so I finally somehow caught it despite not even really leaving my flat around this time. I was still feeling quite weak around GUADEC and also had to catch up with my preparation for the BoF I was hosting. More about the BoF below. I still managed to drop by for one evening, seeing some new faces and attending Tobias’ talk in person.
Despite still being pretty much a greenhorn within the GNOME community I was awarded this year’s Community Appreciation Award (aka “Pants of Thanks”.) I was very thankful that this year’s general assembly included a huge block of attributions to a lot of initiatives and contributions within the GNOME project. We have so many wonderful projects and contributors within the project that a single award is not nearly enough to cover everything that’s going on. I can’t deny that though felt flattered to receive an award for my work😊 I also had a pretty huge smile on my face when reading the hints as to who will be getting this year’s award.
The Future of Conferences
“Conferences are broken” is not really a hot take anymore and with what we know today about how different people learn and socialize it’s not really a surprise that there is not one format that fits everyone. Apart from the question about the usefulness of conferences in the current format, I wanted to boost awareness of some aspects of why in-person-only conferences can be exclusionary:
- For minoritized community members, it is more likely that the conference environment is unsafe, despite the event having a code of conduct.
- For some minoritized community members, travel is either not possible or much more challenging than for others.
- Some community members don’t find it environmentally responsible to travel long distances for such an event.
- For some disabled or neurodivergent community members, a traditional conference setting might not be feasible or very exhausting.
- For some community members, taking the time off might not be financially viable or they are bound to a location because of care work commitments.
There are probably more that I forgot or don’t know of.
So I hope that GUADEC will at least continue to enable remote participation. And maybe, one day, someone will find the time to ask the question of what the target audience of GUADEC is, what the conference should provide, and what the best formats for the audience are to achieve this.
App Criteria and Organization BoF¹
There has been ongoing work around organization, branding, review, and many more around apps. For an attempted overview, you can check my previous blog post. With this BoF we have found a consensus on how to go forward with many things around apps within GNOME!
- Going forward we will try to share a lot of criteria that we apply to apps when reviewing them for GNOME Core or GNOME Circle.
- We are planning to have a new Incubation Process for GNOME Core apps. This will allow for a more transparent way of creating new apps for GNOME Core and is also intended to get more feedback from the wider community as well as from other stakeholders like distributions during the app development.
- There will also be a clearer path on how and when apps can be removed from GNOME Core or GNOME Circle. Hopefully, this will make the process more transparent.
- We are also planning to have regular (every two years for now) reviews of GNOME Core and GNOME Circle apps to help maintainers with quality control and to potentially find ways to help with existing problems within the projects.
- We will finally have some more concrete and conceptual definitions of what GNOME Core Apps and GNOME Development Tools are. Those two groups will form the apps part of official GNOME software. We are also trying to define the role of GNOME Core App maintainers and the project ownership more clearly.
Most of those things are now documented in a central App Organization repository. The GNOME Circle Committee recently started relying on those new criteria. Hopefully, the Release Team can start introducing the new mechanisms to Core apps as well, soon. Of course, we will have to somewhat experiment with all of those new things as we go and might have to adjust them while we are gaining experience.
Huge thanks to everyone who has contributed to this effort so far! Recently especially Chris Davis who designed the incubation process and Michael Catanzaro who helped a lot with making the BoF a success.
¹ BoF: Usually a discussion group on a particular topic at a conference. See for example IETF BoFs.