Tag Archives: Students

GNUnify’10 etc

I wasn’t able to spend too much time at GNUnify10 – a weekday came in and, then there wasn’t enough time to do anything. A couple of things did strike me though.

  • The profile of the attendees was different from last time. If the organizers talk about the demographics, this observation might be validated but I got the feeling that the crowd was more of professionals than students
  • The event has introduced diversity and, that is a good thing to have
  • There have been new speakers as opposed to the “same old faces” talking
  • There were elements of avid interest in things Fedora where the speakers were enthusiastic and participated in rapid Q/A

I liked what I saw. Including Shreyank’s enthusiasm to not get off-stage till the “download link came up” :)

One of the things that I’d hoped would happen at the event is that the group of Fedora folks who met would sit down and discuss their goals for this year. By goals I meant the stuff they would be focussing on and, more importantly, how they would be measuring their achievements. I don’t know how much was discussed along these lines but it is a good time to start doing it. Keeping the focus on a few important things and then creating easy-to-visualize ways of looking at the achievements allow the contributors to assess themselves. Self-assessment goes a long way in removing any perceptions of anonymity that might be lingering on. And, it also creates a sense of involvement – of belonging.

The other important bit this would achieve is that it would make the developers more visible and approach-able. For too long I have seen developers have an aloof or, stand-offish approach to their projects. And, it isn’t because they are arrogant but perhaps it is their trait. Unfortunately, “they will contribute if they figure out that the project is good” isn’t a nice approach. Going upfront and talking about goals, plans and in general doing advocacy allows potential contributors the confidence to tinker with the code and, start contributing. Building up the confidence to tinker not because it is “good for the nation” but because it is “good for oneself” and, is profitable is a concept that needs to be repeated over and over again. The students aren’t rolling up their sleeves enough and, it is an urgent need to exhort them to do it. The world is moving forward at a fairly fast clip and they cannot take comfort in the “learn-by-rote-to-join-TWITCH” way of life in the various colleges across the country. In money terms as well as in time and effort an enormous quantity is invested in students, that shouldn’t go to waste.

The others have already blogged about the event, I’m waiting for Hiemanshu’s writeup.

Posted from GScribble.

Student,Contributor,Ambassador

I often hear good things about the strength of the Fedora Ambassadors in India. With a 110+ group of people, it does allow one to look at upsides and, areas of improvement. But more importantly, what it stands as testimony to is the tough work that is put in behind the scenes by various individuals and, groups within Fedora to make that happen. (Hint : some of the said individuals are also mentors for the Ambassadors in India, so, if you chance onto them on IRC, be sure that you thank them for doing a job well and, doing it with a passion that is unique to folks within Fedora.)

This year we have been able to reach out to a number of events and groups which helped us take the message of the Four Foundations to them. That has been good. We have also noticed that a larger number of those signing up to become Ambassadors are students or, are dipping their feet into the FOSS way of doing things. So, here’s the area in which we need to work our hardest.

Earlier I wrote:

Additionally, if during the initial days, the new Ambassadors are encouraged to actively participate in any other part of the project, it should lead to greater involvement and appreciation of the Foundations. This of course has the advantage of helping them build the social connects and network across projects/amongst individuals which is an invaluable part of being an Ambassador. It also builds up the required confidence in the Ambassador to go out and evangelize about contributing back to various projects and upstream. Because, if one has already drunk the Kool-Aid, talking about it is dead simple.

And, it is true. An Ambassador is the face of the project to the external world. It requires people skills but more importantly, it requires an intrinsic knowledge about the project that takes time and effort to build up. Unless an Ambassador takes a keen interest in the various projects within Fedora and, contributes to at least one of them, it is an uphill climb for most. More so for a student who is just learning the ways of FOSS and, gathering experiences via Fedora.

In the coming months, the plan is to put in place a stronger coaching plan for these student contributors so as to tap into their huge talent and, the capacity to produce stunning results. We have always been surprised by the sheer amount ideas that come up when students are gradually pointed to a direction.

Stay tuned. Exciting stuff is going to happen.

A quick meeting at SICSR,Pune

On the 11th I was at the SICSR (any of these two URLs) to meet with some students. The ‘pitch’ (as they say) was simple. Use participation in FOSS projects to gain skills that will complement their knowledge gained via academic training. Since this batch of students also arrange GNUnify, I guess it was a bit more easier to convey the message. There were some interesting moments. However, I did come back with the feeling that somewhere along the way, I wasn’t too forceful or compelling in putting across the need to learn FOSS culture and gain skills towards becoming better developers. Time will tell.