Community Leadership Summit (CLS)

The Community Leadership Summit is an important annual 2-day unconference event at which close to 200 community leaders get together and swap stories and best practices. What makes this summit unique is that it is not entirely made up of technical leaders – a number of participants work in social media, and in fact many of them work outside technical circles altogether (one this year was from an improv comedy community). This year I helped organize the conference by servicing the wiki in the weeks leading up as well as moving chairs and such during the event.

CLS is itself a community of community leaders, so it is a great opportunity to discuss meta-issues. One of the most interesting themes this year was the difference between community management – the day-to-day handling of problems, efforts to stimulate interest and maintain membership, etc. – and community leadership, which is a much more fluid concept. Leaders occur naturally, but must be cultivated in order to flourish. In this respect, I really appreciate the ideas of Karsten Wade, a worldwide Fedora community leader who titles himself a “community gardener”.

I attended several very stimulating unconference sessions, including but not limited to:

  • Why Bother? covered community member intent as well as retention and motivation http://www.communityleadershipsummit.com/wiki/index.php/WhyBother
  • Getting Along, covering the acceptance of open-source in proprietary communities & vice versa
  • I ran one session called “Jam Session” in which we discussed the benefits of alternative social communities (like music jams, rural communities, homeschooling groups, etc.) and the skills one can learn that transfer directly into community membership. It was attended by 11 other community managers from diverse backgrounds (O’Reilly, Google, LinuxFund).

If anyone reading this has a photo of the session board, I’d love to see it – the ones I wrote down seem to have disappeared.

OSCON

OSCON is sort of a zoo in the sense that there is far too much to see and do, and with 17 different simultaneous tracks there was no way to do it all. Here’s what I did do:

Monday:

  • Get Started with the Arduino – A Hands-On Introductory Workshop, an excellent half-day tutorial
  • met with Symbian maintainer Lars Kuth
  • met with SheevaPlug expert Bryan Smith
  • evening BoF session on Teaching Open Source

    Wednesday:

  • keynotes by Tim O’Reilly and several others
  • 5 FOSS in Edu Projects that Changed the World with Mel Chua and Karsten Wade
  • Plug Computing Primer about Marvell’s SheevaPlug, by the excellent Bryan Smith
  • How to Boot Linux on the Beagle Board, given by me to about 75 people and featuring demos & long discussion with about 7 people in the hallway afterward
  • Google Open Source Update 2010 given by Chris diBona and Carol Smith, who manages Google Summer of Code
  • Expo hall reception, rubbed shoulders with open-source greats
  • Embedded Linux Community BoF, which I ran, was an hour-long stimulating conversation mostly about commercial embedded Linux
  • long conversation in the hall with embedded Linux & education folks, followed by a quiet sushi dinner with several who remained

    Thursday:

  • keynotes in the morning, including one by SETI chair Jill Tarter
  • previously-unnanounced SETI developer meeting at lunchtime
  • MeeGo Technical Overview
  • afternoon social jam session in the hallway, at which I met several fascinating folks I wouldn’t have met otherwise
  • Educating the Next Generation of FOSS Developers with Luis Ibanez
  • Opportunities for Students to Contribute to FOSS Projects with Heidi Ellis et al
  • some time spent in the event hall with the MeeGo folks in the Intel booth
  • Effectively Managing Documentation for Open-Source Projects by me, presented to over 100 people with a lengthy discussion afterward
  • evening reception at the DoubleTree hotel where I met a few cool Rails developers as well as O’Reilly conference leads Alison Randall and Ed Dumbill

    Friday: quite weary, headed for home

    Whew! Now I need to finish my slides for LinuxCon…