Friday, September 24, 2010

Freedom step by step

  cc-by-nc-nd by Images by John 'K' @flickr

Just a short note: Today I announced that the company I am working for is switching from MS Office to :-)
Most of the people never heard from before and have no idea about Free / Open Source Software. The majority of the minds is open and they are curious about that new software. Others kindly asked for guidance. All in all I have a good feeling about that change. Wish me luck!

openSUSE strategy is moving on

openSUSE strategy is evolving. The strategy team is working very hard to integrate all the input they get. We got some great ideas from our contributors as well as from users and even non-users.
I would be interested in further input from the upstream projects.
  • What do you expect from the openSUSE community? In which direction should out strategy point to improve our collaboration?
Please let us know your hopes and expectations in the comments or via mail (firstname.lastname  at gmail com).

P.S.: I would be great if you could spread that page to other upstream projects.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Strategy is mighty!

Following the openSUSE strategy discussion I read some reasonable questions and comments like:  Why do we invest time into that useless strategy discussion? What is the benefit of a strategy? Strategy is only for companies!
This is a follow up to my friend Jos' post about strategy.

I love strategy! (Strategy was one of my major subjects at university and a research focus of the chair I worked and taught over four years.) So I might be biased. Nevertheless I want to convince you share some of my thoughts.  

Why do we invest time into that valuable strategy discussion?

There are several studies about the success of organizations. The strategy is in most cases playing an important part. I explain why:

What is the benefit of a strategy?

A good strategy should
1. show your major future challenges and provide an answer to those challenges,
2. point into a direction where the team wants to move and
3. unite the team.

"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. " (Niels Bohr) But you have to try to anticipate the challenges. Otherwise you have no chance to act. You could only re-act and that is not an advantage. It is always easier to change things when you are in the driving seat. These challenges include the development of customer needs as well as of the competitors. Business tools (like them or not) can help to see some things clearer.

A good strategy gives a direction where the herd is aiming at. In an environment with no strong top down control (like in communities), having the same targets and values are essential. This direction - called the vision or mission -  summarizes the common goals in one sentence. This goal is far enough away that you have to move yourself and close enough that it is possible to reach.

A strategy can help a community to glue together, to find the things they have in common and to define (together) the way they want to go (together). In business many strategies are defined by the top management and fail because they are not wholeheartedly supported by the employees. The best strategy is worth nothing if it is not filled with life. Therefore, the perhaps most important part of a good strategy is the process how this strategy was created. Who was involved? How were the opinions collected and summarized? Is the process open enough? Is the communication and the flow of information transparent? How many people outside of the organization were involved? Etc. [This would fill a whole blogpost of it's own.]

Strategy is for communities!

Most strategy projects at university I did with NPO (non profit organization). We worked with kindergartens, with schools, with the youth welfare office etc. I can assure you: those projects were a blast. I am convinced that it works for communities as well!

Strategy is mighty!

A brilliant strategy, developed in an open environment by the community and external persons can take your open source project to the next level of success. Focus on the processes not (only) the content. Don't write down a strategy just to have one. Make it move your world!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Open Source Principles at Schools?!

CC-BY-SA @San Jose Library

Today I read an article in one of the big Swiss newspapers about the use of the internet, esp. Wikipedia at school [1]. According to the article teachers still mistrust this rather unknown media internet. Wikipedia is not a trustworthy source for information. In some schools even the site is blocked. What a pity.

There are so many fantastic possibilities to use and learn with it. You mistrust Wikipedia? No problem. Make a project with your students. Pick a topic (from you history book for example) and analyze the wiki page. Let your students compare it with a couple of textbooks. Discuss why the article could be not up to your standards. And finally fix it! Edit the page with your students, improve it until it matches your standards. Create something valuable with them. What a fantastic learning experience! 

In one paragraph the article mentions that e.g. the Russian version of World War II is not completely objective (in their view) because it has a national perspective. Oh! I am sure that textbooks are always objective in all countries. Talking about "untrustworthy" sources like the Internet (or perhaps official books in countries we call dictatorships) the young people learn to think on their own and to check other sources. Imho this is a very valuable experience.

So if you mistrust the source in your language, let your colleague, the English, French, Spanish, or what ever modern language teacher, join your project and compare the content of the different languages sites.

If you know some children (those little persons making a lot of noise), then talk to their parents and teachers. Inspire them to experience wikipedia and other open source projects, let them feel the power of working together and sharing, let them learn together while exploring the world and creating something valuable. Offer your help and make things possible.

[1] (German)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hello Planet SUSE

Since many years I am an (open)SUSE user and spread openSUSE wherever I could in my private environment.
The openSUSE strategy discussion has scratched my itch and I started to contribute more to openSUSE.

What could you expect?
Don't expect much code from me. My experiences are more in the area of strategy, marketing and promotion. Perhaps I could also share some results from my researches during the last years about open source communities.

So be curios and stay tuned.
I am happy to join the openSUSE community and I am looking forward to know more of you.

Let's have a lot of fun!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

KDE's 4.5 Release Party in St. Gallen (Switzerland)

One of the many KDE Release Parties [1] took place in St. Gallen (Switzerland). On Tuesday, 17. August we celebrated together with the Linux User Group [2]. The LUG is not very big but at that evening an amazing number of interested people turned up to see the new release of KDE's workspace and applications. My notebook was defect at that time so we used the KDE 4 live cd [3] on a system of one of the participants (thank you, Petra).

The atmosphere was very friendly and we had really good conversations with gnome fanbodys. So I could have a look at gnome shell.

All in all it was a great evening and I learned a lot.

1. There are many open minded and interested people out there. Just invite them and show them a solution to their problem.
2. Doing the main presentation with a live cd is not the best idea
a) it's slow,
b) there is no content  and
c) it was not rocking stable.
3. At least "a view" were impressed and I could give away some live CDs.
4. The accessibility has room for improvement.
5. The important thing for (new) users is: Easy to use (incl. out-of-the-box abilities), stability and their favorite apps (or equivalent). (So nothing new here, but we still a few miles to go.)
6. Improve use-cases information.