martedì 24 ottobre 2017

GSoC Mentor Summit 2017

Before digging deeper into details, I would like to say thank you KDE for this great opportunity. There's not better way to start the 2nd year of my Master Degree: visiting California and meeting amazing people. You can realize how much you are lucky to belong to an open source community when these things happen.

Friday: the arrival

This year the summit started on Friday evening. Stephanie Taylor said it was a new idea to allow and increase socialization among attendees: she was right!
Me and Riccardo were a little bit late on the schedule because we had another amazing opportunity: visiting Mozilla headquarter in Mountain View. So, we went straight to the Google Tech Corners instead of checking-in to the hotel Google provided us. However, we arrived on time instead of our badges :) We were two of the dozens anonymous attendees during the dinner!
The first thing we did (OK no, honestly it was the second one after grabbed a beer and some food :D) was to text to the third and the last one KDE member who was there: Boudhayan. Unlike us, he was super tired because of the jet lag. Indeed, we arrived a couple of days before and spent some time visiting San Francisco: it was my first time in the States. Anyway, we chatted a lot during the dinner. I tried to expose some new exciting stuff about WikiToLearn which we are going to do (news will come soon). After 10 minutes he looked at me and honestly said: “We should continue this conversation tomorrow, I’m not able to understand now! Sorry man”. I burst out laughing.

 Me, Riccardo & Boudhayan
Time flies when you’re having fun...and we had to move to the Comic Con room for the welcome session.
The Google Open Source team exposed the schedule and useful info for the coming days. Then, they asked us to introduce ourselves using some hashtags (up to 5). I chose: #ITALY, #SPAGHETTI, #WIKI, #KDE, #ECOLOGIST. When I pronounced “spaghetti” after “Italy” the whole room laughed, and it was my intent!
After this introduction we were free to come back to the hotel or to continue to interact with other people and having fun. I chose the second one, I was really excited and full of energy. I retrieved my badge and I added some rosettes. In the meanwhile I ate some chocolate and grabbed some stickers and Google gifts.
Finally, at 10:30 PM, Riccardo convinced me to go to the hotel and save some energy for the next day.

Saturday: ready to rock!

Shower, badge, backpack and I was ready to rock (Hard to believe it...Riccardo too :D). The first day was opened with some Lighting Talks. Next, the sessions began. We proposed one about Open and Collaborative Education. I was quite surprised: we were about 15 people in the room. There were participants from Greece, USA, Italy, India and Germany. Me and Riccardo ran the session, but there was Budhayan too. Everyone made a brief introduction about himself and his project, then we started talking about Open Education and its best practices, how to engage non-tech people and common pitfalls.

As WikiToLearn members, we got in touch with Mark Graham (Internet Archive), his wife from OER Commons and with the Greek Free Open Source Software Society General Manager Despina Mitropoulou.

Very short digression: we met Mark at Internet Archive headquarter on Tuesday for a short tour and to talk about WikiToLearn and how he could help us. We got some useful tips and contacts :)

The day proceeded quite fast. I participated to a couple of sessions about chat platforms and I would like to light up a beacon of hope. We are not alone! Most of the communities are facing the same issues about communication channels.

Like any self-respecting conference (or unconference in that case), the group photo has to be taken before lunch.

The long-awaited group photo (photo by Dmitry Avtonomov)
During the afternoon, me, Riccardo and Boudhayan discussed about the community, its issues and how we could tackle them. I pointed out how much difficult is to start to contribute in terms of access to the source code and developers tools (issues tracking, feature requests, communication channels etc…). IMHO, new developers are used to interact through GitHub or GitLab. Issues and pull requests are close to the source code and it’s the most used workflow. I’m quite new in the KDE community, and I know there are plenty reasons which brought to the current configuration. However, we talked about the benefits and the drawbacks of running a Git instance internally and limiting interactions from the outside. Is it the proper way to attract new developers and expand the community? So, I proposed (together with Boudhayan and Riccardo) a session on Sunday about self-hosting the Git infrastructure, developers engagement and so on.

The second summit day was closed with the dinner and a classic American on “campground nights”: roasted marshmallows with chocolate and biscuits (yes, I’m not lying it happened @ Google Tech Corners!). Everything was accompanied by live music, many drinks and artists who drawn caricatures.

Having fun (phoyo by Xavi Ivars)

Sunday: it’s the time to say goodbye

Everything good must eventually come to an end. The summit too. As anticipated in the previous section, me and Boudhayan ran a session titled “Should we self-hosting Git?”. It was a nice session, there was also a Git contributor (and GitLab employee). We exposed our thoughts about the KDE current infrastructure and got some feedbacks. The discussion also touched upon interesting contexts such as the current centralization of the Internet (and the source code) despite of its distributed nature.

Early in the afternoon there was the closing event and unfortunately it was the time to say goodbye to the new friends.
I hope I passed on the happiness, the enthusiasm and the joy this event gave to me. The entire trip was amazing, thank you again KDE and Google. This is the power of the open source community!

Little more about Git

The session about Git, the developers tools and their engagement should not be intended as mere criticism. It derives from deep thoughts and more than two hours of discussion. I really hope the blog post will be a starting point for a whole KDE community debate.

Peace and love.

(More photos here)

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