Online Debating Is So Hot Right Now

Okay, I admit it, I left the tv on after Desperate Housewives, and not only caught Last Man Standing, but a small amount of the Hiltons’ Simple Life 3 – Interns. Anyway, having been referenced by name in the prestigious Australian IT press, how could I not continue the thread I left dangling last week?

So, the question is “if LA’s not doing anything other than LCA, how does it make any sense to have a separate group of people over and above the ones volunteering a year of their life to run the conference?” I think the answer is “but that’s not the case; LA is doing other things and should continue doing so.”

I gave a talk to HUMBUG on Saturday about LA, which was (IMO) pretty well attended. Especially since the usual staple of HUMBUG meetings — free net access so people can bring their computers along and do hands on Linux/Unix stuff — is currently absent. I’d intended to record it and then try my hand at this new-fangled podcasting stuff, but then found myself running late and completely forgot. Doh. Short summary is that it’s quite possible to fill up about three-quarters of an hour talking about LA stuff without just summarising the content at the last LCA, and the broader stuff is pretty interesting — Community Code, Open Education, Software Freedom Day, the Open Source Forums, the government participation in Linux that LA tries to facilitate, the grants scheme, and the random other things that all make use of the LA banner, whether metaphorically or literally.

Of course, while these things are interesting, that’s a different question to whether they’ll be a success or not. It’s easy to come up with a cool idea, and it’s even easy to register a domain for it, and maybe write up some of your ideas; it’s a lot harder to carry them through to fruition.

I actually think LA might be in a position this year to actually cover that gap. Naturally, I’m going to credit that to the community’s wise choice of committee members and their varied skillsets and the resulting organisational dynamic, but the fact that the Linux community has come up with a range of projects and the fact that previous committees’ activity has managed to improve LA’s mindshare within the community has resulted in a pretty large number of groups coming together around LA — and with a large enough number of attempts, you’re likely to have some successes no matter how great the difficulties. And once you’ve got some successes, you can build on them and get still more.

And that, I think, is the position LA’s in at the moment; trying to cultivate some more initial successes beyond LCA, and getting prepared to build on those successes by watching what goes right (and wrong), and having the resources marshalled to make sure those lessons can get reused.

One of the things I really enjoy about the LA community is its optimism; so when we get a story in the press that announces “[t]he future of Linux Australia (LA) is in doubt”, the response is along the lines of:

It’s great that something as trifling as a discussion of LA’s organisational structure is not only considered newsworthy, but deserving of a well-researched article. […] Coverage like this demonstrates LA’s relevence beyond the LA membership, and will hopefully invite constructive comment from the broader Australian Linux community.

Better than some possible responses anyway.

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