Re: 11 Questions to answer

OK, had some spare time this evening, so here are my responses to the
eleven questions:

> 1) Why are you running for Board of Directors?

I'm running because I feel I have the skills and experience necessary to
become a good board member. I feel that the board needs balance in its
constitution - geographically, corporately and in terms of the
hacker/adminstrator situation. As an independent candidate, I feel I am
able to make balanced contributions. As a European, I'd like to see
GNOME develop its profile in my part of the world. As someone who is
predominantly not a coder but frequently in contact with developers, I
have the spare time to devote to the board along with some understanding
of what GNOME hackers are facing.

> 2) Do you have leadership and committee experience? If so, please explain.

I have considerable experience from both inside and outside of GNOME. I
have served as a board member on a registered charity providing care
services to people with disabilities, various political committees,
trades union committees and as part of the GNOME Foundation Membership &
Elections Committee - of which I was briefly chairperson. I've played a
leading role in several of these committees. Whilst not all of this
experience is directly relevant to GNOME - it provides a solid
foundation in the skills necessary to work in such a collaborative

> 3) How familiar are you with the day-to-day happenings of GNOME?  How much
> do you follow and participate in the main GNOME mailing lists?

I follow matters on the major development related lists (notably
gnome-list, gnome-hackers and desktop-devel). I also follow with
interest many of the special interest lists - particularly the usability
and multimedia lists. My participation is limited, but I chip in where
possible. I'm often on IRC (as MikeGTN), and was for some time very
active in #gnome-help. Sadly, this channel seems to be all but abandoned
of late. When new users began to appear via Ximian's #monkeytalk
channel, I spent a great deal of time there assisting users. I read and
post to the foundation lists.

> 4) One of the primary tasks of the Board of Directors is to act as a
> liaison between the GNOME Foundation and other organizations and companies
> to find out how the two groups can work together to their mutual benefit.
> Do you feel you would be good at understanding other people and companies
> and finding ways that GNOME can collaborate with other companies and
> organizations to benefit both groups and their users?

One of my prime reasons for standing is as a corporately independent
voice. I feel I am able to balance the benefits of corporate involvement
in GNOME against its drawbacks. A board which can act independantly is
of utmost importance to the future of GNOME and the Foundation. However,
our corporate contributors have brought benefits to GNOME which we could
never have hoped for otherwise. As a committed charity and non-profit
worker of some experience, I've often had to balance these issues to
obtain the greatest benefit for a project. Its not always easy, but it's
rewarding work.

> 5) One of the responsibilities and powers of the Board of Directors is to
> identify organizational weaknesses and needs of GNOME and to create
> committees, appoint coordinators of these committees, and act as liaisons
> with them.  What do you believe are the current weak points of GNOME as an
> organization, and if you were able to, how would you change the GNOME
> organization?

GNOME has reorganised itself very effectively in the past year or so -
the efforts of the release team have bought sanity to an area which was
often though impossible to regulate. The bugsquad have also made huge
strides. Extra face-to-face meetings seem to have improved the way we
manage conflict. What I'd like to see is more of the same. We can
however always communicate better: The GEP process is proving valuable,
but needs to be revisited in the light of experience. We need a clearer
indication of the TODO tasks and clearer guidance for gnome-love
activity - leveraging new people into GNOME is immensely important. I'd
also like to see the board spin off more work to small, special interest
groups as needed - it seems to work well, and to produce results.

> 6) The board meets for one hour every two weeks to discuss a handful of
> issues.  Thus, it is very important that the board can very quickly and
> concisely discuss each topic and come to consensus on each item for
> discussion. Are you good at working with others, who sometimes have very
> differing opinions than you do, to reach consensus and agree on actions?

For the past decade I've worked on teams of various sizes, sharing ideas
and solving problems together. Its been an informative, sometimes
frustrating, but ultimately rewarding experience. During this time I
think I've developed skills in team working, and strategies in
facilitating compromise and consensus. For what its worth I have a
qualification which involves group theory - but in my experience the
reality is always stranger.

> 7) Often Directors have to draft policies, form committees, find
> weaknesses or approaching problems of GNOME and work on solutions, and act
> as liaison with various groups (both within and outside GNOME) and
> companies.  Please name three or more areas which you feel are important
> for the Board to address over the next year and which you would enjoy
> contributing some of your time to help get things started and possibly act
> as a liaison between the Board and any other committees, groups, or
> companies if relevant.

Firstly, I'd like to see GNOME make in-roads towards use in government
and non-profit organisations - with limited IT resources, these appear
to be natural customers. My experience in this field leads me to believe
it would be a worthwhile effort.

Secondly, I think GNOME can localise more effectively. I'd like to see
GNOME users and hackers forming local groups - particularly in Asia and
Europe. Face to face meetings have proved valuable, and this kind of
local efforts makes more meetings possible, more often.

Finally, I'd like to work closely with the Membership Committee to solve
some of the problems they feel they have confronted over the past year.
My interest in this area stems from my time working with them, and I
feel they deserve more of the board's time and attention.

> 8) Do you consider yourself diplomatic?  Would you make a good
> representative for the GNOME Foundation to the Membership, media, public,
> and organizations and corporations the GNOME Foundation works with?

I like to think I'm diplomatic. I'm certainly aware of the power of the
language we use and the limitations of the media we primarily chose to
communicate through. I try to present GNOME in a positive light in all
my discussions, because I'd like more people to use it! I've dealt a
great deal with the media over the years too, and whilst you can never
quite predict what they're going to say next, I feel I have a good grasp
of the perils and benefits of media exposure. As for the public - they
have been the primary 'customers' of all the organisations I've worked
in - I'm certainly proud of my record in this respect.

> 9) Will you represent the interests of GNOME and the GNOME Foundation over
> all other personal or corporate interests you may represent?

I have no personal or corporate interest which conflicts or coincides
with GNOME at all. I aim to represent the interests of GNOME as an
independent voice.

> 10) Will you be willing and have the available time to take on and
> complete various tasks that the Board needs accomplished?

Yes. I carefully evaluated the time and type of committment needed
before deciding to stand. 

> 11) One of the ingredient for success in Free Software project such as GNOME
> is committed and dedicated memberships. How would you propose to promote new 
> membership, and encourage commitment of existing membership to make the GNOME 
> desktop the desktop of choice? [ Hints: the number of Foundation members have 
> reduced from 460 in 2001 to approximately 300 in 2002 ]

I've stated above that I see working with the Membership Committee as a
priority for the board in the coming year. I've also made no secret of
my feeling that the new membership guidelines don't serve the Foundation
well. The Foundation Membership is an increasingly important body - and
as time passes, the Foundation has used membership as a gateway to more
aspects of participation in GNOME. Some fall in the membership this year
was inevitable as 'founder members' were expiring for the first time,
many of whom had long since moved on from GNOME.

Qualification for new membership should remain 'merit based' as
enshrined in the foundation's articles. Membership is an earned
priviledge, not a right. We also need to be clearer about what
constitutes a contribution, what 'recent' means, and how we can be
inclusive but nuturing in our approach.

Maintaining the committment of existing members is about presenting them
with opportunities to influence the direction the Foundation is taking -
more meetings, more opportunities for special interest groups to form,
clear and transparent decision-making from the board.

I've also noted above that we need to dedicate more time and effort into
bringing new people into GNOME, via gnome-love or other activities. I
feel the membership will grow in proportion to the effort we are
prepared to expend in this work.

Mike Newman

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