10 answers, more or less :)

On Sat, 2004-11-13 at 14:11 +0530, Sayamindu Dasgupta wrote:
> 1. Judging from the comments posted here (gnomdesktop.org comments
> area), it seems as though most people are confused about the purpose of
> the GNOME Foundation and its board. How will you, as a member of the
> board, try to clear up confusion and outline a clear direction and
> purpose for the Foundation?

It is, honestly, not clear to me that the foundation has a clear purpose
at this time. The most important problems facing GNOME as a group are
technical and social in nature (more on these in question 3), and those
are not tasks the board is well equipped to impact, given GNOME's

So, my belief is that the board needs to get smaller and more focused,
prioritizing those tasks that the board is uniquely positioned to
handle, and generally attempting to ignore most other things. See next
question for what those things are.

> 2. What do you see as the most important thing that the board
> accomplishes, and what do you think is the area of the board's activity
> where you could improve things?

At this time, the most important things the board is responsible for are
issues that are unique to the board and well-suited to the board's
skills. Right now, I believe that set of issues are event organization,
PR, and management of GNOME funds and employees. I don't think I'm
particularly uniquely suited to tackle any of those problems :) but I'd
like to think that if I'm focused and motivated, and stick to those
areas, my natural persistence may pay off.

> 3. What is the number one priority for the GNOME project now, in your
> opinion? What do you think you can do as a board member to work towards
> that goal?

The most important problems facing GNOME right now are not problems the
board is well suited to tackle, in my opinion- we face challenges
attracting new developers, and we're nearing the edges of our 'natural'
expansion, rubbing up against Open Office and Firefox, better publicized
projects with a lot of inertia which we are having problems integrating
with. As a community member, I have a lot of ideas on how to tackle
this- docs, bug days, clearer explanation of our philosophy. As a board
member, there are no first-order solutions- we have to focus on
second-order effects. So, for example, run a good guadec so people can
get together to talk over our issues, and to have more effective PR so
that we get more buzz and (as a second-order effect) more contributors.

> 4. What do you think is the most important market for GNOME over the
> next year or two, and what do you feel you can do to help get GNOME
> better penetrated into that market?

We need to re-penetrate the minds of distros and the tech media- neither
of these are markets, per se, but they are the keys to all other
markets, and we're getting worse at addressing them, not better.

Sun went from proudly proclaiming 'we love gnome' at LWE 2003 to hardly
mentioning GNOME at all at LWE this year. Novell is pursuing a
dual-desktop strategy. Red Hat spends all their time talking about
Bluecurve. This one is probably a very hard nut to crack- unlike
firefox, we don't have much buzz right now, so the distros don't see
much value in talking us up.

So, speaking of buzz... the media (who were pretty interested around
2.0) have gotten less interested, as we've failed to publicize our
releases well, and we've failed to talk about the awesome stuff we have.
I believe the answer for the media has fallen into our laps- we need to
send out gnoppix/ubuntu livecds to media with late 2.9 releases and a
nice little 'here is what is so cool about gnome' pamphlets. If we can
do that for 2.10 we'll go a long way towards recapturing some of the
buzz we had.

> 5. What unique aspect will you bring to the job?

I think it is safe to say I am closer to legally blind than anyone on
the board, or running for it. That's unique, right? :)

> 6. How would you feel about moving to a system of Preferential Voting?

After early skepticism that this would actually change anything, I think
I've come around to this- I'm still not particularly convinced it would
have much impact in the end for us, but it could help insulate us from
the occasional nutball.

> 7. How do you think you could motivate the rest of the board, if and
> when the other directors have other time pressures? 

This is a hard question- as one of the prime victims of this this year,
I'm not sure I have a good answer, except to work harder to make board a
fun and exciting place to be in the first place. And to suggest that
they quit their day jobs, which are very obstructive to board work. ;)

> 8. What one problem could you hope to solve this year?

Management. I don't believe we manage Tim or our budget effectively yet-
frankly, someone (board or otherwise) needs to be punished for the fact
that we still don't have a public, detailed budget available on our web

Having in the past eaten my shorts in the name of public humiliation, I
hereby make my first campaign promise ever- if there is not an
http://foundation.gnome.org/budget/ explaining how we spend our money by
next GUADEC, I will again eat a small portion of my shorts, or perhaps
something else innovative and yet equally embarassing, to be chosen by a
selected committee of my peers.

> 9. What would you do to increase community participation in the GNOME
> community and GNOME elections?

PR, PR, PR. 

I mean, there are a lot of other things I'd do to increase community
participation (bug work, list participation, etc.), but none of those
are the board's purview. What is the board's purview, and what the board
could be very good at, is stimulating and providing resources for
marketing. If the board organizes a good press release, and as a result
we get a good article in eWeek, we're going to draw attention to our
community. If the board organizes distribution of CDs, and as a result
we get a good article in the New York Times, then we're going to draw
attention to our community and eventually to our elections. Ideally, of
course, even this would be the province of a strong community marketing
team- but still the cash resources and the contacts with, for example,
executives who might be quoted in a press release would be the board's
arena, and while the marketing team is still getting on it's feet, a
strong board presence would certainly not hurt here :)

> 10. Should Gnome be marketed as a separate component ? Or should it be
> actively promoted as a part of the offerings in a commercial software
> stack ?
> (Separate component in the sense *a DE in its own way and with its own
> ecosystem*)

I don't see why there is an 'or' here. Both of these are important
things to do, for different markets.


I put this diagram up after the summit. To contributors and ISVs, we
probably need to stress the GNOME component of things- 'hey, GNOME is
cool, integrate with it.' To end users, we probably need to push a
complete stack- unlike OOo or firefox or itunes, GNOME isn't something
the average user can install by themselves, so marketing it to end users
as a separate component doesn't make nearly as much sense.

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