LinuxCon in Review

Rikki Endsley

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Sep 25, 2009 GMT
Rikki Kite

I spent most of my LinuxCon time near our camera person, following along as he streamed the keynotes and select tracks. Henrik was kind enough to post the Linux kernel roundtable video online for us, and I'll send out a tweet as soon as additional archive videos are available.

On behalf of Linux Pro Magazine, I'd like to send a big THANKS! out to the Linux Foundation for partnering with us to provide Live streaming from LinuxCon. I know that LinuxCon organizers wanted to make the event available to as many people as possible, and the streaming – particularly the free keynote streams – helped them do so.

Of course no event is perfect. During his opening remarks, Jim Zemlin talked about the low percentage of women in open source. Later he told me, "I'd love to see more women at events." I thought there was a nice turnout of women at LinuxCon, but many people have noted the lack of women speakers. One member of the program committee told me that they received 144 talk proposals. He said only three of the talks were submitted by women.

Now you might be thinking that the Linux Foundation should have done more to get women speakers. Amanda McPherson, VP of Marketing and Developer Programs at the Linux Foundation, told me that she created LinuxCon, named it, got the funding together, and did the entire speaking program. She said, "I really do feel it's my fault as I could do more personal outreach. I know lots of women who would make great speakers – I just have to do more to encourage them to speak."

I disagree with Amanda, however. Although I appreciate that she feels responsible, I don't think it's fair to blame any person – or organization – for the lack of women speakers. Each and every person in open source is capable of either submitting a talk or encouraging another person to submit a talk. If you'd like to see more women speak at events, please encourage your female friends and colleagues to do so.

I think that blaming an organization for not getting more women speakers implies that we are not capable of submitting talks without being begged to do so. We as individuals can get more women speakers at events by either proposing talks or encouraging other women. As of this week, I will have spoken at three events this year thanks to the encouragement of other community members, including my colleagues, Gareth Greenaway and the organizers of SCALE, Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, Emma Hogbin, Cat Allman, Stormy Peters, Allison Randal, Selena Deckelmann, Danese Cooper, and many other members of the community (including everyone who has seen my talks and given me feedback afterward).

Mark Shuttleworth gave the closing keynote at LinuxCon, and I'm particularly eager to get his video posted. During his well-attended talk, I knew that many other folks were following along with the live stream. I've seen a lot of coverage online afterward, too, and some people think that Mark made a sexist comment near the end of his talk. A few people have asked me my opinion on the talk and I'll be honest – I don't think Mark's comments were sexist and I wasn't offended. I don't feel that he owes me any apology for anything he said, either. Of course, you might disagree with me and that's ok, too. But if we're going to disagree, can we at least agree that we're all on the same team in open source – or at least playing on teams in the same league – and let's keep it friendly, professional, respectful, and civil.

If you don't make it to Ohio LinuxFest this year, I hope I see you at another event soon. If you're planning on speaking at an event for the first time, let me know and I'll help organize the cheering section.


  • disagreeing to disagree

    Actually, what I was saying is that we might disagree about Mark's talk (and what he said or meant, etc.), but let's keep the conversation about our disagreements "friendly, professional, respectful, and civil." I didn't comment at all on the 'sexual innuendo" in Mark's talk because, despite being there in person and listening to the entire talk, I didn't actually hear that particular comment.

    I give an enthusiastic Two Thumbs Up for more friendly, professional, respectful, and civil conversations about our disagreements.
  • don't pretend, please

    "friendly, professional, respectful, and civil" includes not talking down to women and making sexual innuendos during a supposedly professional presentation. Thumbs down, Ms. Kite, for glossing it over.
  • Stimulating and Inspiring

    Due to the time difference (I'm presently in Berlin) I only viewed some of the earlier parts of the three day proceedings, however the speeches I did manage to catch were all superb. I subscribed to the full package and can't wait to view the sections I missed on line when they're up.

    The opening speech by Bob Sutor was inspiring enough (for me) to justify the $99 fee alone and I would have no hesitation in signing up for future events.

    Thank you all so much for bringing the event to those of us who couldn't make it.

    Rich Bos.
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