#PDX11: The software summit wrapup

So, the software summit happened this evening. Mike Rogoway posted his brief overview here: http://blog.oregonlive.com/siliconforest/2010/12/portland_gathers_software_deve.html. The back of my head, Teyo and Amy are featured on the bottom of the photo :)

I livetweeted the event, so tomorrow there’ll be a cavalcade of tweets here: http://www.chesnok.com/daily/2010/12/03/twittering-on-2010-12-03/

Big ideas:

  • Portland is about Community. And our competitive advantage is that community.
  • Part of what makes us what we are is the fact that we stick with the same companies over time. What can we do to enable collaboration across company boundaries?
  • We cultivate enduring wealth.

My takeaway from the Q&A was that we’ve got this huge biz/developer divide. We have management talent – but maybe not the big M&A talent that the VC-oriented folks are after. We have loads of developers. We need to make more effort to get those folks connected to one another in a way that makes sense!

We have tons of events that are advertised on calagator.org, and the city is making an effort to make itself a hub (hosting Lunch 2.0, and now this software summit in the City Council Chambers). Overall, I really think the City is doing a great job, and I can’t wait to see what the citizen initiatives come up with.

So if you want to get involved, subscribe to our lists:

http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-announce (announce only!)
http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-financing
http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-mentoring
http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-knowledge

Find out more at: http://pdx11.org

UPDATE:

Portland Business Journal coverage!
Slides from the City’s presentation
Video from Software Summit

Mentor Summit Report for PostgreSQL

mentor summit

Update: Fixed the etherboot wiki link.

I attended the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit this past weekend on behalf of PostgreSQL. We met at the Google campus in Mountain View.

This event was an unconference and so, none of the sessions were determined in advance.

Some of the highlights were:

  • Leslie Hawthorn and Chris DiBona went into some detail with the whole group about the selection process for GSOC. This session made me feel as though PostgreSQL had relatively good chances for being accepted again next year. Google, however, does not pre-announce projects/products, so there is no sure thing about our (or any other project’s) involvement.
  • I met MusicBrainz guys and was pleased to receive many bars of chocolate they requested to be distributed to SFPUG and PDXPUG members as thanks for making an great database.
  • Attended three sessions concerning recruitment and retention of students. This is a topic that many people were interested in, but that few people feel they have a proper strategy for.

I also led a session on recruitment and retention of students to open source projects. Some of the ideas that came out of that and the related sessions were:

  • Determine what makes you personally need to be part of Postgres (joy of learning, scratching a technical itch, making a tool for your job, fame). Find out which of those things your student also needs or wants and try to give that or help your student achieve that thing.
  • Have a clearly defined method for students to keep journals. Several projects simply used MediaWiki and templates.
  • Use git (or other distributed revision control), and have students commit early and often to a branch that mentors have access to.
  • The Etherboot project has a great system: http://etherboot.org/wiki/soc/2008/start
  • Hold weekly meetings over IRC. These can be brief, but help get students accustomed to your project’s culture and way of doing things.
  • Ask the student: “are you on track?”, ask the mentor: “do you think the student is on track?” on a weekly basis
  • If you want students to stick around, find incremental responsibilities to assign that are driven by their enthusiasm.
  • Interview on the phone all your students ahead of time, not just the ones you think might be a problem.
  • Require a phone number on the application for the student.
  • Require a secondary contact so that if the student “disappears” there’s a backup person to contact. (and contact that person BEFORE SoC starts)

I made good connections with members of Git, Parrot, WorldForge, Ruby and many other community leaders. I was particularly impressed by the ideas and stories from the current Debian project leader, Steve McIntyre and Gentoo council member Donnie Berkholz. Donnie recommended some books about recruitment that I plan to read and review in the next few weeks.

The issue of mailing list moderation and the number of people required to keep mailing lists functioning properly came up frequently. If you know a moderator for a Postgres mailing list, please consider thanking them for doing a very tedious, extremely important and often thankless job.

I also spent some time discussing with Leslie Hawthorn and Cat Allman how to increase the total number of women mentors and students next year. Leslie and I shared some ideas and I offered to help implement them next year. One thing the crowd asked for was explicit training on how to recruit and manage female students. Realistically, this information will apply to all students, and I hope this training helps us recruit more students overall.

I thought the conference went quite well. I hope PostgreSQL is accepted next year, and that one of our mentors is able to attend this conference. And, if you go, be sure to register for the hotel early, and stay at the Wild Palms.