Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More Keynotes (OSCON XVI)

The focus on inclusivity continued, with talks about leveling the playing field and working on the pie chart (i.e. only 11% of committers to open source projects are women).

Leslie Hawthorne shared a story leading to a cliche in the diversity training circles, that dark skinned people cannot buy bandaids with a dark color tone.  No longer true thankfully, the market has responded.

She also recommended we experiment with changing our speech patterns (a kind of API).  As an example, Leslie mentioned she now avoids the word "lame" with regard to software and uses "un-groovy" instead.

My mental monkey objected with "namespaces" (the concept) and the fact that engineers frequently re-purpose words.  The "master / slave" relationship between disk drives is not an endorsement of slavery as an institution.  Program co-chair Matthew McCullough mentioned his "very lame" early software projects just moments later, when introducing Tim O'Reilly.  

Some speech habits are deeply ingrained and carry technical meanings.  Diversity also means accepting those already a part of a community, not just being disruptive of their status quo speech habits.

That being said, I agree with Leslie's goals and the importance of experimentation (trial and error) in achieving them.  My morning talk selection was attending the Girl Develop It (@girldevelopit) presentation, about encouraging women to get involved in OSS.  A combination of mentors, fellows and projects provides a game plan for a women-oriented Summer of Open Source.  The Code for America Brigade was really helpful in getting the GDI chapter in Philly up and running.