Molly

Jul 8, 2020

Please welcome Molly de Blanc, @mmillions, Strategic Initiatives Manager, @gnome Foundation this week here on @imakefoss.

https://t.co/TiXYmydmXH

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Jul 8, 2020

Hi! I figured I’d start by talking about getting involved with #freesoftware and jobs in #opensource. Please ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. Don’t worry, the radical rhetoric will come later in the week. :)

Jul 8, 2020

I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve had a career in FOSS, and before that in #opened – which is heavily related! It’s been a combination of luck, social connections, and really, really hard work. As someone who doesn’t code, there are fewer opportunities available to me.

Jul 8, 2020

Not all FOSS contributors spent their childhoods programming. You can build a hobby or a career at any time, regardless of your interests or skills. I got involved because I like throwing parties, and a friend saw that as an opportunity to get me to help with a conference.

Jul 8, 2020

I organized and volunteered at conferences throughout university and after. Friends I made and other skills I had helped me get internships and jobs, but my FOSS career breakthrough was…running a conference at Open edX!

Jul 8, 2020

The two valuable things from this are: I did something I liked for a while and eventually it turned into a job (with a lot of hard work, self-advocacy, and sponsorship from others); and FOSS is one way to get the skills and experience you need to work in your chosen field.

Jul 8, 2020

Let’s talk a little bit about getting involved with FOSS. I was in a Diversity & Inclusion meeting earlier today with someone new to FOSS. While we talked, they messaged me to explain terms like ‘BoF" and “the GitLab.”

Jul 8, 2020

The meeting wasn’t specifically targeted for newcomers, but it made me really consider what words I was u sing and what they meant to me and how they might be heard by someone else.

Jul 8, 2020

It reminds me a bit of when I went to #CubaConf and was basically assigned a translator buddy to help me interact with the conference.

Jul 8, 2020

When we think about how to get new people involved, especially when we’re not a newcomer event, we have to be prepared to be their buddy and translate things so they can get something out of the experience.

Jul 8, 2020

I’ll also add that some people think of social and organizational contributions as ’non-technical," but they still require a lot of technical knowledge and skill!

Jul 9, 2020

Today I want to talk a bit about my experience contributing to FOSS while having a disability, and I hope others will feel welcome to share their experiences as well.

Jul 9, 2020

I am bipolar, which I’ve spoken about in a few talks. I don’t need physical accommodations to use a computer, but I do need social accommodations when it comes to participating in a community.

Jul 9, 2020

I need people to approach me with a basic level of understanding that I am competent and excited, but I might not always be able to get things done when they want and that needs to be okay. This doesn’t mean that I can’t do things, but there are times when I need more empathy.

Jul 9, 2020

It’s easy to frame this as ‘Oh, that person is weak and unreliable," but really it needs to be framed as “that person is strong and has a lot going on.”

Jul 9, 2020

The fact is, the things I need are the things everyone needs: understand, empathy, trust, and respect. I just need them in a slightly different way.

Jul 9, 2020

Threats, calls for me to kill myself, and insults (all of which I’ve received) impact me differently than they impact others. These things are bad for everyone, and they can send someone with bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety into a dangerous spiral.

Jul 9, 2020

Sometimes I need things like:

  • people to ask before touching me;
  • understanding that I might need downtime;
  • people to not take it personally if I seem distracted or have to leave mid-conversation;
  • people to trust that I know myself and my own abilities.

Jul 9, 2020

Also, there are countries I can’t go to because I am bipolar. Nigeria, for example, doesn’t allow people with ‘serious mental illnesses" to visit.

Jul 9, 2020

@0x03b5 I think that’s also something communities need to work on – being easy to contribute to without someone having to always be their own advocate.

Jul 10, 2020

So what’s a typical day like for someone working in #FOSS full time? A lot less exciting than you might expect!

Jul 10, 2020

At @GNOME we all work remotely, and the team goes from Albania to California – which is (I think) nine time zones.

Jul 10, 2020

@gnome I’m close to the middle, so I usually start work on the early side of the morning, take the afternoon off, and then finish up in the evening.

Jul 10, 2020

@gnome Today’s agenda includes: video meetings, emails, writing, more emails, working on some logistics with coworkers, research, and probably a few more emails.

Jul 10, 2020

@gnome A lot of this work is focused on @GUADEC right now. The GNOME conference is in just over a week (it starts on July 22) and there’s still a lot to do to make it happen!

Jul 10, 2020

@gnome @guadec .@KristiProgri has been working hard on making GUADEC happen. A conference has a lot of moving (and unmovable) parts. While online events have been around for a while, trying to bring the magic of GUADEC to an online space is new for us.

Jul 10, 2020

@gnome @guadec @KristiProgri I like working directly with my coworkers. That’s part of the fun of organizing conferences – it’s a chance for everyone to come together to make something happen. This year is no difference with new technology challenges, design work, sponsors, and everything else.

Jul 10, 2020

@gnome @guadec @KristiProgri There’s a lot to do before our first meeting, which is about @GUADEC. But first, coffee!

Jul 10, 2020

@mmillions @gnome @guadec @KristiProgri @joshsimmons My favorite piece of career advice, regardless of field: Learn to write. Writing is a muscle, so you have to exercise it regularly.

Jul 10, 2020

@mmillions @gnome @guadec @KristiProgri @joshsimmons Blogging, journaling, writing documentation, writing essays or stories (even if you don’t share them), or even just practicing explaining what you’re doing in text form are all really helpful.

Jul 10, 2020

@mmillions @gnome @guadec @KristiProgri @joshsimmons Sharing your writing can be scary – it still scares me sometimes – but if you can, find a friend or even a stranger and have them read through what you have to say. The more you do it, the less of a big deal it seems and you become a better writer!

Jul 10, 2020

@mmillions @gnome @guadec @KristiProgri @joshsimmons I used to hate outlining things, but I like it now. I also sometimes just throw all of my ideas onto a page and then organize them afterwards. Sometimes I even go on walks and just talk through what I want to say.

Jul 10, 2020

@mmillions @gnome @guadec @KristiProgri @joshsimmons I’ll also add that, if you’re not a native English speaker, BIPOC, and/or a gender minority in FOSS, I am happy to provide mentorship on writing (time permitting).

Jul 10, 2020

Also career advice: Pay attention to accidentally forgetting to remove tagged accounts from Twitter threads. Like I did…

Jul 10, 2020

Two meetings down and two more cups of coffee. Time for an exercise break!

Jul 11, 2020

I didn’t get back to the tweetings yesterday. So what else did I do? I wrote more emails! I’m trying to pull together some projects, and that requires a lot of coordination and approval from different people. This means writing a lot of emails. See, writing!

Jul 11, 2020

I also worked on my talk for @GUADEC a bit. This is really fun for me, so I try to save it for as a treat or don’t feel especially motivated by anything else.

Jul 11, 2020

Today may be a weekend, but when your entire life is basically free software, it doesn’t really take a break. I have some writing I want to get done today, and I also need to work with my co-speaker on a talk that needs to be pre-recorded.

Jul 11, 2020

I also read a lot of Twitter. I think about this as part of my work because it’s the best way to keep up with what’s happening as it happens. It might not be great that Twitter is so important, but for now it is.

Jul 11, 2020

Today seems like a really good time to talk about one of my projects, which is about consent and technology.

Jul 11, 2020

It’s not a cohesive project in the sense that I’ll debut an app at some point. It’s a lot of research, reading, thinking, conversing, and writing.

Jul 11, 2020

.@cesifoti told me ‘ideas don’t come from people, ideas come from conversation." I think this is true, and spend a lot of time talking about my ideas with people who help me shape them and turn them into something I can communicate.

Jul 11, 2020

@cesifoti (Quick shout out to some of my favorite conversation partners, which includes but is not limited to, @allisonrandal, @dustyweb, @baconandcoconut, @ehashdn, @johnsu01, @o0karen0o, and @cynddl)

Jul 11, 2020

We have a pretty firm concept of consent in medical practice – you agree to what people can do to you, you can negotiate what these things are, and you sign paperwork clarifying what you’ve agreed to.

Jul 11, 2020

(Additionally you can go to different doctors, get different opinions, choose to opt out entirely, etc. People need express permission, which you can deny, to share your information. Your privacy is legally protected. It goes on.)

Jul 11, 2020

The magic is that this should also be true for technology. As we recognize the breakdown between the separation of ‘physical self" and “digital self,” we must also recognize that what we need to do to protect people’s rights has changed.

Jul 11, 2020

How do you work on a project like this? A lot of reading. I’m reading about medical and sexual consent. I want to know what people have already said in order to say better things going forward, to credit others for their ideas, and to not repeat work that’s already been done.

Jul 11, 2020

I’m also behind on some @debian work. Need to catch up on that. ^_^;;

Jul 11, 2020

@RomitRajSahu Well, I wouldn’t say GNOME is perfect, even though it feels that way sometimes! We try really hard as a Foundation and a community to do the right thing.

Jul 11, 2020

@RomitRajSahu I haven’t experienced discrimination, and try my best with others. I want to acknowledge that this still happens everywhere. I hope people feel comfortable going to the GNOME Code of Conduct committee (which is full of some of the most amazing, empathetic people in FOSS) or me.

Jul 11, 2020

The other day I submitted a work-related talk to @OpenSourceOrg’s State of the Source. Today I submitted one based on my non-work activities!

Jul 12, 2020

Today I’m making slides for a talk I’m giving at @hopeconf with @o0karen0o!

Jul 12, 2020

If you’re not going to hand draw your slides (which I highly recommend), @baconandcoconut’s advice is to pick an image theme and use that for the whole deck (e.g. puppies or doughnuts). It brings cohesion and color.

Jul 12, 2020

To get down to it, I want to say a bit about diversity and #FOSS.

Jul 12, 2020

I kind of hate talking about diversity because:

  • As someone who is not a man it falls on me to talk about it; and
  • I am extremely privileged because I am white.

Jul 12, 2020

I’m also college educated, a native English speaker, have a family that is incredibly proud of me, make enough money to buy avocados whenever I want, and many many other things that make my life a lot easier.

Jul 12, 2020

I also don’t have issues with alcohol. Drinking is too big a part of #FOSS culture. I can participate in it without worry, which makes a huge difference!

Jul 12, 2020

It’s important to talk about all the ways we marginalize people in FOSS, all the ways communities are unwelcoming, the micro-aggressions, and so many other things.

Jul 12, 2020

It’s imperative that we uplift voices of people from all different under-represented groups. We must let them speak for their own experiences. But, we also cannot have their role be entirely speaking of their own experiences.

Jul 12, 2020

Here’s a rider by @TatianaTMac. I have trouble imagining any FOSS conference being able to fulfill this. https://t.co/DSWVYiyLct

Jul 12, 2020

Another random note about speaking: If you’re giving a talk and you mess up, no one cares! They’ll remember the good stuff. If you really flub, laugh it off and the audience will too.

Jul 12, 2020

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Jul 12, 2020

@TatianaTMac Yes – we need to do better than we are.

Jul 13, 2020

I play this game with @o0karen0o where we give each other a topic and then discuss how it’s a free software issue. We’ve even done this as a talk! https://t.co/xwn82ltvGF

Jul 13, 2020

When I talk with people about the relationship between something and software freedom, I look at the way technology interacts with that thing and the impact that has on digital rights.

Jul 13, 2020

A fun example is how we use apps to date and hook up! (https://t.co/x2r3iNunZc). A less fun example includes computer assisted intimate partner violence and algorithmic bias reinforcing systemic racism (https://t.co/K0Gf2ISx5L).

Jul 13, 2020

When I talk about something being a free software issue, I focus on the way technology fits into it. It’s also important for free software to recognize that many of these things also impact free software. We need to care about them just as much as they need to care about us!

Jul 13, 2020

I think a lot about @baconandcoconut’s talk at #GUADEC 2019 and how the techno-utopia I dream of can grow out of the world we live in today. If you haven’t watched it, you really should. https://t.co/HVaAKSeRPV

Jul 13, 2020

We, as a community, need to be asking ourselves about how things impact free software – the technology we build, the communities who build it, and the people who use it. Climate change, misogyny, racism, transphobia – the list goes on and all of these hold us back.

Jul 13, 2020

When FOSS is not being made by a diverse set of people, it will not work for everyone. When the world is on fire, there is no space for FOSS. When our works are being used to oppress others, we are complicit in their oppression.

Jul 13, 2020

In completely different news, I spent part of my morning doing @creativecommons’s archeology, looking for photos for a blog post. I love seeing the FOSS community (and my friends) over the years!

Jul 13, 2020

@creativecommons I’m not going to provide any examples in order to protect your ability to take these people seriously. :)

Jul 14, 2020

It’s our last day together (over here anyway)! We’ve talked a little bit about a lot of different things I care about. It’s not easy to decide how to wrap it up.

Jul 14, 2020

#FOSS loves our conferences. They’re a really magical opportunity to meet up, learn, see your friends, and make friends. Since we’re in the throes of organizing #GUADEC, I think I’ll say a few things about that. https://t.co/xLwIqu9L4u

Jul 14, 2020

I actually think organizing a remote conference is harder than an in-person one. An in-person one is a lot of work, but it’s something we already know how to do.

Jul 14, 2020

While there have been remote events for years, it’s something many of us don’t have experience with, so it’s a big unknown.

Jul 14, 2020

For a lot of people, a conference is their one (or two or three) times a year to really talk about FOSS and connect with people who share an interest, passion, or career. How do you bring that online?

Jul 14, 2020

#GUADEC, and other conferences, are planning things like Social Hours, where people can meet around a fun topics. We’re hosting social events as well, to bring larger groups together to (hopefully) enjoy something less related to @GNOME.

Jul 14, 2020

Still, all of this is not the same as serendipitously running into someone. I find that at most events I attend, I end up being best friends with someone for the duration. And it’s usually someone I don’t spend a lot of time with otherwise.

Jul 14, 2020

However, there are lots of benefits to going remote. More people can attend: a global community, people who have other responsibilities, people who have disabilities that make traveling difficult. It’s easier to drop in and just less of a commitment to participate!

Jul 14, 2020

I’ll also add that, as a person who uses a lot of photographs from events for blog posts and things, it’s going to be hard having less material for the next year!

Jul 14, 2020

If you want to hear more of what I have to say, please check out my talks at #GUADEC! One is about the work I do at @GNOME (https://t.co/U6IDkPrjXm), and one is a project I’ve been working on with @o0karen0o (https://t.co/rw6LgspXdU).

Jul 14, 2020

Remember when I said that not everyone can afford to make free software / open source as a hobby? Many contributors and would be contributors struggle to make time.

Jul 14, 2020

Many of us struggle or have struggled. Some of us need jobs that give us health insurance. Some of us have children, or family members we need to take care of. Some of us have disabilities. And some of us just have complicated, demanding lives.

Jul 14, 2020

I’ll leave you with the request to not just make free software, but to make it possible for others to as well. Give to a favorite project or donate to a foundation or non-profit. Support orgs that are helping people contribute and giving them the skills and confidence to join us.