Re: Question to candidates: eco-friendliness

Hi Philip,

On Mon, Jun 3, 2019 at 10:11 AM Philip Withnall <philip tecnocode co uk> wrote:
Hi all,

Thanks for running for the board!

What steps do you think the Foundation could take to reduce its
environmental impact, and the environmental impact of the project as a

I’m asking in more of an organisational sense than a technical sense.
It’s up to individual maintainers to ensure their software is not
resource-hungry, etc.

I imagine this is the kind of question where it’s easy to just say
“yes, I care about environmental friendliness”, so I suggest you might
want to reply with your ideas about things the board could do to reduce
environmental impact — whether those things are big, small, incremental
steps to reduce our physical resource usage, or fundamental changes to
how we organise the project to reduce the impact of travel. It would be
interesting to hear them all, and how feasible/practical you think any
improvements are.

Obviously, those who have already served on the board will have some
insight to share about what the board already does, and concrete ways
it could improve; hopefully this doesn’t disadvantage those who haven’t
already served on the board.

I tend to think it's more likely to disadvantage those who answer later, since the candidates who responded already have mentioned a number of ideas that I wish I had thought of first. So I had better get my response in now :-P

I am trying to think what I can contribute to this discussion that others haven't already, and what I've come up with that I'm personally interested in, is figuring out how it might be possible to change the GNOME culture to make it easier to participate in hackfests remotely. I have tried remote participation with a few GNOME hackfests and it's difficult. That may sound odd coming from me since I have worked 100% remote for the last 6 years but I do have to say it's a lot harder to do it in GNOME than in a work environment. We tend to go either fully text-based/asynchronous, or fully face-to-face. Either we send our merge requests and our blog posts, and most of the time we don't pay too much attention to the human side, or we go to the other extreme and travel to a hackfest or conference where we spend 16 hours a day hacking, presenting, and celebrating in each others' company for a short, intense time. There is no in between. In fact I believe this is problematic for other reasons than the environment, as I've seen a number of instances of flame-first-ask-questions-later on GNOME mailing lists in the past year, that I hope would not have escalated so badly if people were actually talking out loud with their voices to another person's face on their screen.

I see a few reasons for these extremes, first of all it's difficult to get human connection outside of the face-to-face events. People don't have time (e.g. I personally am okay to write this email to foundation-list at 11 PM whereas I would not get on a video call at that time). Also people have varying levels of comfort with video calls which we need to respect.

Second, we don't really have much precedent for remote participants in hackfests. On the occasions when I've tried it, I've been the only one.

Third, the free software tools for video calling and remote collaboration are quite far behind the proprietary tools. Furthermore I'm not sure that fixing this is where the expertise of the GNOME community lies.

I think it would be interesting to experiment with all-remote hackfests, where we try to build an experience in between the normal "type text, hit submit, wait for text in return" interaction, and the resource- and time-intensive hackfest/conference experience. Not to replace either of them, but to supplement them. The board can't dictate that community members do this, but I would be interested in seeing how we could facilitate it.

Other Philip

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