SCALE 8x: Day 1 - WIOS Talks

Posted by Scott_Ruecker on Feb 20, 2010 6:55 PM EDT
LXer Linux News; By Scott Ruecker (Phoenix, U.S.)
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LXer Feature: 20-Feb-2010

My review of the first day of SCALE 8x and the WIOS talks I attended.

Ultimate Randomness - Girl voices in open source

The first talk I attended was a great presentation by three very knowledgeable girls Malakia and Saskia Wade and Mirano Cafiero (on the left) who explained how they had learned to use GIMP and Tux Paint along with some examples of what they have done using the programs as well. At the end of the the presentation they showed a short stop motion film they made with their Barbi Dolls using OpenShot which to say the least was very cute..and very good too.


A Year NTEU the Ubuntu Community and FLOSS World

The next one I got to was Amber Graner's talk on her first year in the Non Technical End User (NTEU) for Ubuntu. It was a great review of what it is like to be a total newbie to FOSS getting all jazzed to jump in and get started in participating in the 'process' as it were. She gave a ton of great examples and funny stories of her experiences in the NTEU. One of her great points was If you can dream it you and think it, if you can think it you can suggest it and if you can suggest it you can do it. I like that a lot. there is something to be said for just doing it if it means that much to you that really hits home for me.


Moving The Needle

Sarah Mei presented a talk on how the Ruby Community in San Francisco experienced a growth from 2% to 18% in the number of women involved over the course of just one year. She spoke of her and others efforts, in spite of past gender diversity failures, to get more women interested and involved in the SF Ruby community. She explained in great detail how they went about it and why it actually worked when nothing had worked before along with some expected and not so expected side effects that came about as a result of the projects success.

The three things they focused on were:

1. Set specific goals that could actually be met. - It is nice to have lofty goals but if your chances of ever reaching them are minuscule to none, then what is the point of even having them right? Their main goal was to increase the number of women who came to the monthly meetings, period. Whatever that number was, as long as it was an increase in participation, then the goal had been met.

2. Workshops for women. - The big difference between every other workshop for women that had never worked before was that Sarah and her group targeted former female programmers that had gotten out of the business for one reason or another and women who work in and/or with technical companies. By focusing on those areas the actual number of women who showed up to the workshops was noticeable along the number who returned for the monthly meetings was well.

3. In-person outreach and followup - This I believe was the biggest factor in the success of the project. Speaking only for myself (as a man) I usually know when I leave a talk, meeting etc. whether I am going to ever return but I know that for a lot of others actually having someone call or e-mail you personally, thanking you for coming and asking what you thought about it would have a large and positive impact on their continued involvement.

Some of the unanticipated side effects were the serious uptick in the quality of posts to and the quantity of traffic on the SF Ruby mailing list and more talks were proposed for the monthly meetings by both men and women. Also, the perception that you had to know more than everybody else in the room in order to make a comment on or speak in front of the group without looking like a dork completely dissipated and it resulted in much more participation by both men and women.

Another one of the great forward thinking aspects of the project was that the men in the SF Ruby community were involved in the entire process and included in the meetings so that there was no 'enclaving' in that over the course of several months everyone got a chance to meet everyone so there was no "us over here" and "you over there". I for one am very impressed and I commend Sarah and all those who worked on the project for their hard work and deserved success.

Presenting You: How to Give A Lightning Talk

Emma Hogbin gave a very animated talk on how to easily get started on giving a lightning talk. She got the entire audience involved by having us tell another audience member about one or two of our passions in life and then showed how you can break that subject down into little chunks of time so that all of a sudden your done, it was good and the audience is still awake.


Well its on to day two of the conference Saturday. Expect more pics (and maybe even one of me) and more stories from the expo floor.

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