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Gmane
From: =?ISO-8859-1?Q?M=E1ir=EDn?= Duffy <duffy <at> fedoraproject.org>
Subject: Re: Tying threads together.
Newsgroups: gmane.linux.redhat.fedora.advisory-board
Date: Wednesday 15th February 2012 19:32:00 UTC (over 5 years ago)
On Wed, 2012-02-15 at 12:21 -0600, inode0 wrote:
> "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read"
> http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html

> Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex
> http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html

John, I'm not sure in which way you meant for these to be interpreted,
but there is a lot of good brain food here; thank you for suggesting it.
I saw two possible ways to interpret these:

Interpretation #1) 

"In order to accomplish something, you can't start from scratch every
time. Whether it's a functional communication system or the presence of
vendors who can sell you er, graphite, you can't provide everything you
need to make the thing you're aiming for from scratch. There's
infrastructure and materials and community needed that you can't all do
yourself."

To this reading, I say, yes! I believe we put far too much burden on
folks trying to get things done, where they must start from ground zero
and build a ton of things on their own rather than focus on the thing it
is they really want to work on, because those support structures /
infrastructure are just not working at the level we need them to if they
exist at all. Sadly I think that because no one person can do everything
on their own, and there's this expectation that they should somehow
figure out how to make it happen, to have the vision, leadership,
organization, coding & design & writing skills when they can't possibly
have all of that.

Note how the open source community as a whole has this emphasis on 'rock
stars.' Well, yes, the people who get things done are 'rock stars'
because you have to be to get anything done! This is not a *good*
thing!! 

We have to do a better job at enabling the collective mind that Ridley
refers to, or we'll be limited by the ability / skills of our own
personal islands.

Interpretation #2) 

"We should let people work on whatever they want to work on, and somehow
magically something wonderful like a pencil will come out of it."

(I *really* don't like this one so I'll hold the commentary on it.)

> One large thing though is the idea in both that stuff happens, and
> really great stuff, without central planning of some sort. A base of
> freedom suitable to the context is enough. Points for a Board that
> doesn't try to direct all the traffic. But there is a related point I
> take away that I think will resonate here with Máirín and others. That
> is that we can help make great stuff happen, not by figuring it all
> out and telling people what to do but by creating the culture or a
> framework that fosters and promotes the sorts of freedom and ease of
> doing that enables others to achieve what *they* want to achieve.

But what do you do when person A wants to achieve something that is
diametrically opposed to what person B wants to achieve?

I mean, the project does need an identity with which to attract
like-minded folks so we can be productive. An extreme example to
illustrate this: Canucks fans showing up to the Boston Bruins victory
parade. That's not great stuff happening; that's likely a riot. (Sorry
Vancouver fans.)

People do have 'tribes.' That's human nature, I think. If we have no
identity or position or defining vision driving the project, then how is
a potential contributor to know this is a place that resonates with
them? If anything goes, if you can do whatever you want as long as you
can get the boots on the ground, then we really don't have functional
vision at all, only a dream on paper.

If we keep the entire thing completely undefined and feed to anyone who
expresses a desire to help the notion that they can do anything that
they want if they make it happen - we will get lots of factions and
disagreements, wasting a lot of time and effort on conflict rather than
churning out awesome things that make a real positive difference in the
world.

If I could only, only get back those hours and days of my life wasted in
GNOME vs KDE bickering, or VIM vs EMACS bickering, or GNU/Linux vs
Linux, or Free Software vs Open Source, or ... but I will never get them back. What awesome things could I
have worked on with that time instead? Multiply that across our
contributor base, and it's downright depressing.

> Máirín has suggested work by the Board in this area a number of times
> and I agree that the Board should be engaged in this way. What sort of
> things allow people to achieve their goals within the Fedora Project?
> How can we improve those things?

Fixing communication. I have a million and three ideas on how this could
be realized. They shouldn't be new to anybody reading this thread.

The board providing an actual direction, and rather than carefully
transcribing it into a wiki page and locking it away, never to be read
or talked out or advocated for again, actually advocating for it and
getting the word out about it. Making sure everyone on the project
understands where we are headed. Making the case and providing a good
story for the positive change in the world that direction can bring, and
how that aligns with Fedora's DNA. 

~m

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