Adventures in Portland (CLS & OSCON)

I recently spent a week in Portland, attending the Community Leadership Summit, and OSCON .  Although a week is a bit long away from my family, it was  definitely well-spent investment in learning.  Most cherished, as always, was the opportunity meet and chat with so many inspiring people;

I am fortunate to both work and contribute in the Open Source and Open Education spaces, which means that learning I do for one, benefits the other.  This was very true of this week where my role as Mozilla Rep merged with my Developer Community Manager role at SocialCoding4Good.

A third bit of luck is that Bill & Jeff of FunnyMonkey (who I am also fortunate to work with), are local to Portland. So – yay for catching up with them as well.



I am grateful to Mozilla Reps, who sponsored my attendance at this event organized by Jono Bacon, author of  ‘The Art of Community’, and Dealing with Disrespect.  Both are recommended reading.  As is the tradition with unconferences, topics were set and facilitated by attendees.  I gained so much attending sessions on community metrics of success, working with developer communities and community problem solving through storytelling (I just ordered a book ‘Working with Stories‘) based on this awesome session by Melissa Anderson.

I was most inspired by the Meteor community leaders, especially  Jade Wang’s plenary, but also in unexpected places like meeting a Microsoft community manager focused on open source (yay!).  I once exclaimed:  ‘That’s a cool job!” after someone introducing herself as the Lego MindStorm Community Leader’.  Seriously though, cool job.

I also led a session (both at CLS and OSCON) on designing contribution pathways – this is based on a workshop by David Eaves , but one I have adapted and modified to include some preparation work, and group brainstorming.  I learned SO MUCH leading these sessions.  I realize one of the reason I hold sessions, BOFs and talks is to trap the people I most want to learn from in the room with me.  Is that wrong? :D



OSCON started immediately after CLS, so it only made sense to stay-on  to help with the Mozilla Booth being led by Benjamin Kerensa .  This is a huge, huge huge event and my first running a vendor booth, which is a very different experience than the  community and non-profit booths I’m used to leading. Having said that, it was a fantastic experience – a great team and an opportunity for me to wear a ‘developers hat’  which was awesome.  We were demoing the latest FFOS Flame built on open web technology and the response from developers was very , very encouraging.  Even though FFOS has been released in 16 countries, it’s clear that getting it into the hands of developers all over the world – now-ish, is important to pushing the innovation forward.  Benjamin did an amazing job organizing our participation! Thanks Ben :)

Aside from booth duty, I had the absolute BEST time catching up in person with friends at Mifos, meeting Ushahidi‘s team in person, and  fast friendship with the inspiring Alolita Sharma.   I was also excited to meet Laura Thompson, who I’ve been a fan of since watching  ‘Minimum Viable Bureaucracy ‘, and Brian Behlendorph, who sits on the boards of both Mozilla and Benetech. Finally, although I’ve met Christian Heilmann before, it was pretty great to have him as part of our team for a whole day.  He was very supportive of Benjamin and Alex’s talk on contributing to FFOS.  Ben and Alex also did really well – I was proud of them.

My  other takeaways was the sense that open source is evolving, despite self-identifying OSCON as a’monoculture’  (white and Asian men), the tide of keynotes focusing on changing that was encouraging.



I also had the great pleasure (my favourite part actually) of leading a session for kids and parents at OSCON Kids, organized by Devoxx Kids.  We had about 30 kids and their parents hacking on a session I put together focused on HTML/CSS , Collaboration and Open Practices.  This is the current teaching kit, but as noted  – it’s still a draft.  I decided to use a relatively new little program called Erase All Kittens, written by young developers I’ve met through the Webmaker community. It was very well received by younger, junior learners, we moved on to hack our school sites with XRay Goggles, which also – always a hit.  And finally, a first for me – I ran a session asking people to team-up and create a ‘make’ together using the ‘collaborate’ function in Thimble.   A few bumps with the technology didn’t hold back the giggles, and of course there is always that group of kids giggling in the back – making one of these.  It was awesome, awesome, awesome having parents in the room,  they sped up the learning but also seemed to have a lot of fun. My favourite was a father-daughter team at the front who were clearly having fun together.   Also note to self, ‘sisters do not want to work together on collaborative project’ :)