(forw) Re: [bayarea-organizers] [Fwd: Re: [conspire] Penguin Day - Demysitify FLOSS for Nonprofits]

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Apr 14 12:54:00 PDT 2005

The sponsoring group behind Penguin Days (Aspiration of Massachusetts,
which runs them apparently with help from CompuMentor) asked for my
advice about how they might better coordinate with local open source
folk for future events.  Here are my arrogant opinions.  ;->

----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2005 13:56:12 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: katrin at aspirationtech.org
Cc: Zachary Mutrux <zmutrux at compumentor.org>
Subject: Re: [bayarea-organizers] [Fwd: Re: [conspire] Penguin Day - Demysitify FLOSS for Nonprofits]

Hi, Katrin and Zac.  I'll snip bayarea-organizers at lists.penguinday.org
from distribution, as I'm not an authorised sender for that list.

Katrin's mail didn't reach me the normal way because domain
aspirationtech.org doesn't have the RFC-required "postmaster" mailbox,
thus triggering one of my antispam rulesets.  Aspiration really _should_
fix that -- but I've entered an exception to my spam rules, to let
Katrin's mail through in the future, anyway.

Quoting katrin at aspirationtech.org (katrin at aspirationtech.org):

> We are the co-organizers of Penguin Days and are putting on the one
> New York.  I appreciate your comments and would love some better
> insights on working with folks there in particular on bringing people
> from some of the LUGs and other groups to Penguin Day New York.  Do
> you have suggestions for particular people we can approach there? We
> have a pretty generous fee waive policy, especially for geeks who want
> to make a difference..:-)

First, as I also mentioned to Zac, I hope your Oakland event is going
well.  Some thoughts:

1.  To better help you out with the NYC event, I've asked some former
co-workers of mine, who are in NYC, to provide me with some contacts for
you locally in the New York area.  Stay tuned.

2.  The New York City open source crowd, like the Bay Area crowd, are
diffuse but very numerous.  Please don't forget that it's not just LUGs:
There are typically FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD groups, Perl Mongers, Python
groups, sysadmin organisations, etc.  And then there are the surrounding
community of consultants.

The BSD people would not be enthusiastic about an event labelled
"Penguin Days", but you might be able to talk them into participating --
or maybe not.  They tend to have an understandable attitude problem
about being considered a minor "also ran" entry alongside Linux.

3.  I realise that admission fees are sometimes completely unavoidable, 
since everyone has costs, but the matter needs to be treated carefully.
Be up-front about it, as you will be speaking to people who regard event
fees as an exception that needs to be disclosed, rather than the rule.

4.  The right time to approach locals about the upcoming event is not 
several days prior, but rather a month or two prior.  For one thing,
they probably don't know you (yet), and they've probably gotten tired of
promotional drive-bys.

5.  Ask the local technical groups if they can do presentations or staff
informational tables at your event.  You'd be surprised.

6.  Your "Tuesday, 9 am - 5:30 pm" hours telegraph an "aimed at
business/NGO executives" message.  If you cannot use a weekend or
holiday (e.g., the Presidents' Day Monday, which was terrific for
Windows Refund Day), then expect very low attendence from techies:  They
need to earn a living.

7.  It may be just me -- and no offence intended by my being blunt in
this way -- but the term "FLOSS enthusiasts" (and "FLOSS" generally)
connotes lightweight to me.  Real free software / open-source people
seldom use that cutesy acronym.  They just don't.

8.  You've already passed one "filter" the community tends to apply:  
You're using an open-source webmail package (IMP) to send your mail.
People sending invitations to participate in an open source event that's
(1) from Outlook Express and (2) in doubled MIME-encoded text plus HTML
tend to get ignored, rightly or wrongly.

By the same token, people will tend to use www.netcraft.com to determine
whether you're "walking the walk" with your Web server, too -- and you
are:  You're running Apache 1.3.3 on FreeBSD.  Cool!  ;->

That's all I can think of, at the moment.

----- End forwarded message -----
----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 23:28:43 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: Katrin Verclas <katrin at aspirationtech.org>
Cc: Zachary Mutrux <zmutrux at compumentor.org>
Subject: Re: [bayarea-organizers] [Fwd: Re: [conspire] Penguin Day - Demysitify FLOSS for Nonprofits]

Hi there.  It's (obviously) not an hour for telephone discussion
(especially given time zones), but I'm home and have a moment to spare,
so I'm looking over your message.

Quoting Katrin Verclas (katrin at aspirationtech.org):

[I've asked friends for suitable contacts in NYC, for you.]

> Great, thanks!

You're welcome -- but I think they're disappointing me by not bothering
to send me any information.  Bah.  Unfortunately, I'm not in a great
position to help you out regarding NYC contacts:  On the rare occasions
when I'm in NYC, I'm busy with other things, and so have not a clue
who's best to speak to, there.

Hm, try Jay Sulzberger <jays at panix.com> .  He's been leader of a LUG or
two, and I know him personally.  Also Jim Gleason <jgleason at nylug.org>,
president of NYLUG.  Please feel free to cite my name.

> Yes, thanks.  Penguin Days are much more facilitated and structured small 
> group conversations around different topics that are of interest and 
> concern to nonprofits.  We do have a great speed-geek, though-- fast-paced 
> presentations of tools and projects -- that might be a good recruiting 
> vehicle.

As I said, you'd be surprised.  Both the NYC (I think) and Bay Area (I
know) open-source crowds are choc-a-bloc with people who are experienced
at both technical presentations and round-table discussions.  Look over
the past speaker roster from prior LinuxWorld Conference and Exposition
events, among others, and you'll see such folk featured.

> Yes, we understand.  Bay Area was an exception on a weekday -- all other 
> Penguin Days have been on Saturdays (which riles the orthodox Jewish geeks 
> in NYC).  Guess you can't win.. :-) 

Technically speaking, as a gentile with some experience at interpreting
Judaic law (used to be a volunteer kibbutznik, among other things), I
can tell you that just having the event on Shabbat isn't _necessarily_ a
deal-breaker:  It prevents the observant from riding subways,
driving cars, handling money, pushing elevator buttons, etc. -- but they
can attend if they can operate without those activities.


> Interesting.  What do they use?

Generally, "open source".  It's not a perfect term, either, but less
opaque than anything else.  If someone objects that we should say "free
software", I'll just stand my ground but explain:  "Those are two maps
to the same semantic territory.  I just tend to use the term that will
be most widely understood."[1]

> We try to stay clear of ideological free/libre versus open source 
> debates at PenguinDays....

Well, you have to decide what's important to you.  Me, I care more about
being understood than about placating FSF guys and hangers-on.

I've had Richard Stallman as a house-guest frequently, and run nothing
but free / open-source software on all of my computers, so ideological 
objections that I'm using the wrong word just don't impress me.

In your shoes, I think I'd _still_ care more about being understood than
about making ideologues happy -- in fact, even more so.  But you'll need
to decide what works best for you.

[1] Cf. the remarks on that in my famous/infamous "Fear of Forking" 
essay, http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Licensing_and_Law/forking.html

Cheers,                                The other day, upon the stair,
Rick Moen                              I met a man who wasn't there.
rick at linuxmafia.com                    He wasn't there again today;
                                       I think he's from the CIA.

----- End forwarded message -----

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