Re: GNOME Foundation Elections 2007. Let's start the debate!

<quote who="Bruno Boaventura">

> [1] How much impact would being a member of the GNOME Foundation Board
> have on your current contributions to GNOME ?

Not a huge amount -- most of what I do these days is either related in some
way to the Board, or keeping things ticking as maintenance. While I've been
on the Board, I've still had the time to do large projects such as creating and massive repair work on our mail server.

> [2] Online Desktop and Services are being talked about as the next large
> step in GNOME - what is your vision for Online Desktop and Services and
> how would you measure them ?

GOD is only one of the many interesting opportunities we have right now, so
I think there's a broader conversation to have here -- but it's also mostly
outside the scope of what the Foundation does.

GOD raises some interesting questions for the Foundation though, which I've
commented on at GUADEC and on this list in the past: Should the Foundation
start hosting services? What can we provide that supports our community and
commercial ecosystem, without creating unnecessary competition?

I want the Foundation to play a role here, but we have to figure out just
what that is going to be -- where the GOD developers have an idea that is
unrealistic without some kind of central support, I want them to know they
can lean on the Foundation. I don't want our software to suffer because we
don't have the organisational cajones to support great ideas. :-)

> [3] What are the SMART goals that you desire to set for yourself should
> you be elected to the Board ?

Is 'SMART' a management acronym of some kind, or capitalised for emphasis? I
wasn't expecting candidates to suggest DUMB goals... ;-) I think I'll answer
this in question [8].

> [4] If you were part of the GNOME Board last year and a candidate again,
> what would you like to put as your achievements as a Board member ?

They may seem small, but I'm very glad to have fixed two outstanding issues
with the operation of the GNOME Foundation: The position of 'President' has
been held by someone who has not had an active role in the Foundation for a
long time -- we've now established the convention that the President of the
GNOME Foundation will be an elected director playing substantially the same
role we've referred to as 'Chairman' for years. I also pursued a change to
our bylaws that results in the next Board term starting with a face-to-face
meeting at GUADEC. Towards the end of the year I've done quite a bit of
outreach to companies considering participation in GNOME and the Foundation
(which hopefully makes up for the start of the year when I was pretty burnt
out after 2007 -- I keep forgetting about that black hole).

> [5] Do you think it is important to mentor and coach potential leaders in
> the GNOME community ? If yes, what do you think the role of the Board be
> in this task ? If no, what are your thoughts on this ?

Yes, in both technology and community roles. I have some thoughts about how
we can do better with technology mentorship, but they are not relevant to my
candidacy (because the Foundation does not play a role in the technical side
of the project other than handling emergencies and resolving disputes).

Next year, I want to involve more contributors in Foundation activities as
"delegates" of the Board, responsible for particular tasks or projects for
the community. We've dabbled in this a bit in the past, but always in a very
casual kind of way. I want to pursue it in a more robust fashion, ensuring
that contributors are involved in things like the Board conference calls, to
report on their activities and be a part of the team.

If we make a real effort to do this well, we can grow the number of people
who are contributing in community roles, and who might want to run for the
Board in the future. I do see it as essentially a mentoring opportunity.

> [6] Some of the tasks of a Board Member are mundane administrative tasks,
> are you comfortable taking on such tasks as opposed to being always
> involved in strategic and visionary thinking ?

Yeah. Half my GNOME time is spent doing the relatively mundane anyway. :-)

> [7] What or which according to you, is the one "tipping point" move for
> GNOME in the coming year ?

For GNOME in general I think the dovetailing of so much work in disparate
little related projects is going to make one of 2.22-2.26 *really* shine.
More needs to be done to encourage this dovetailing -- we need to be more
proactive about it.

For the GNOME Foundation (which is what is important here), I think that
making a artful hire within the next 12-18 months may have a huge impact on
the resources we have to hand, and our commercial ecosystem (whether that
means the traditional big players or the recent influx of smaller companies
involved in GNOME). I say "artful" because I strongly believe we can't rush
in and hire "just anyone" so we can claim to have a warm body -- we need
someone who can bring a very different skill set to bear on GNOME's place in
the ICT world at large.

> [8] What do you think is the most important item on the Board's agenda
> right now ? What will you do more or better than the previous boards in
> that aspect ?

For the first six months, I want to focus on internal stuff -- getting the
team going, pulling together the stated goals of the directors into a guide
for the year, working hard to streamline our routine tasks and communication
(both inward and outward facing), and importantly: Gathering the input and
priorities of our community early in the year. This side of things is really
important to me. I want us working like a team and rocking really hard for
GUADEC, partly because I don't think last year worked very well from that

After GUADEC, if we've achieved all of that, we can focus on more ambitious
things, such as working really hard to find a hire for the Foundation (see
question [7]).

> [9] What is your positioning with respect to the issue of OOXML?

An exasperating waste of time -- on both sides of the debate -- that will
ultimately harm international technology standards more than it will ever
help Microsoft's bottom line or harm the absolutely inevitable success of
Software Freedom. Somehow, it has turned into a black and white issue, and
that attitude will hurt everyone involved more than it will help anyone.

> [10] Why do you think we need a GNOME Foundation ?

At a very basic level, "someone has to keep the money". Even if we weren't
actively looking for funds to support GNOME development, we'd still have to
have some kind of administrative body to handle conference funds and so on.

Sure, that could be the SFLC or a similar organisation, but I think that it
is important for us to control our own destiny, and have GNOME contributors
representing us as part of that equation.

With a more aspirational perspective, the Foundation allows us to aim for
much higher goals than we could achieve as a highly distributed, rag-tag
bunch of hackers. It unites the commercial ecosystem and the community and
has the opportunity to take GNOME way beyond where we could take it alone.

I call these two angles the "small target" approach and the "big target"
approach, and I think the trick for the Board is to figure out how to get
the "small target" stuff right, before heading into the much tougher "big
target" territory.

I want the GNOME Foundation to be in the "big target" zone, but we have to
be very careful about nourishing our community *and* commercial ecosystem in
the process. It's a matter of "creative destruction", but we ultimately want
the GNOME Foundation to "raise all boats" in the end. :-)


- Jeff

-- 2008: Melbourne, Australia
   "Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't
         be gagged. The time of trial is always." - John J. Chapman

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