Category Archives: Libre Graphics Meeting

The Libre Graphics Meeting (LGM) is an annual meeting on free and open source software for graphics. Taking place in a different city every year, the event is an occasion for collaboration, exchange and debate between developers, artists, designers and activists.

http://libregraphicsmeeting.org

Libre Graphics Meeting 2016: Other Dimensions

December 3, 2015 Libre Graphics Meeting

http://libregraphicsmeeting.org

The eleventh annual international Libre Graphics Meeting 2016 will take place Friday 15th until Monday 18th April 2016 in London, UK. This yearly event is an occasion for teams and individual contributors/artists involved in Libre Graphics to work together, to share experiences and to hear about new ideas. By Libre Graphics we mean Free, Libre and Open Source tools for design, illustration, photography, typography, art, graphics, page layout, publishing, 3D modelling, digital making and manufacture, cartography, animation, video, interactive media, generative graphics and visual live-coding. The Libre Graphics Meeting is not just about software, but extends to standards, file formats and actual use of these in creative work. LGM has become the place in which they can discuss their projects, coordinate their efforts and, crucially, to meet in person. Participants in the LGM include developers, designers, academics and activists from around the world, who are all passionate about Free/Libre graphics software and technology.

Special focus: Other Dimensions

In Toronto we celebrated the first decade of LGM, reflecting on the past and considering the future. For the 2016 edition of LGM we continue speculating and will expand Libre Graphics into Other Dimensions. We are looking for presentations and workshops that explore the dimensions of space and material: 3D modelling and animation, Libre architecture, Open Source product design and other fields of digital making and manufacture. We are also seeking contributions that offer reflections on the ‘other dimensions’ of open source communities and that engage with FLOSS tools in various contexts including but not limited to teaching, learning, practice and co-production. This represents a desire to address the future sustainability of the Libre Graphics movement, through a growth of the core projects and topics that will, we hope, allow us to welcome more and more FLOSS projects and participants to our community.

Read the call for participation: http://libregraphicsmeeting.org/2016/call-for-participation/
Submission deadline: 10 January 2016, content selection notification by end of January 2016.

Beyond the first decade

Back from the tenth edition of the Libre Graphics Meeting in Toronto:

Pictures: Peter Westenberg. More at: http://gallery3.constantvzw.org/index.php/LGM-Toronto

Future Tools Diary

… I switch to diary mode this month to record some of the events that are about to happen in Madrid: LGM2013 (10-13 April) and Interactivos?’13 (15-27 April)

In Brussels for a few more days, I keep all on-line channels open so I feel in touch with Madrid and can respond to last minute questions from other remote Libre Graphics Community members that are about to pack their suitcases.

It is impressive to experience the full Medialab Prado team at work, making the meeting happen. After a long period of insecurity, Medialab finally moved back to their own building and LGM2013: Future Tools will be the first large scale public event taking place in this new location. The excitement is tangible even from here and I am sure that the international Libre Graphics community flying into Madrid next week will be energized by it.

A new old building: La Serreria Belga (The Belgian Sewmill)

For me, the upcoming events are above all an occasion to connect the Libre Graphics Community as-we-knew it with Spanish speaking developers, Open Design enthusiasts, local DIY people and the growing network around the Libre Graphics Research Unit. We purposely chose the slogan Future Tools because it is about time to take this yearly meeting serious as a rare occasion for research and development specific to Free Software in the creative field. For this to happen, we need to bring the conversations between software programmers, users, designers and tinkerers to another level.

A few years ago we tried something along these lines when Constant hosted the meeting in Brussels. Soon we found that beyond bringing people physically together, it was not easy to sustain a dialogue between diverse members of the Libre Graphics community. Three years later Libre Graphics has certainly gained momentum in art schools, design collectives and cultural organisations. There are also many new Libre tools being developed (and used!) in the context of creative coding and web technologies but I don’t think we solved that community problem yet. The involvement of core developer teams this year seems minimal and I’m not sure how to interpret their absence.

One interesting example of the growing presence of Libre Graphics in cultural organisations is Medialab Prado itself. Pioneering maker-communities, 3D printing, data journalism, The Commons Lab and many other Free Culture initiatives, Medialab used the incentive of the Libre Graphics Research Unit to experiment with Libre tools on their own communication material.

In the summer of 2012 they invited Manufactura Independente to work with local designers on the collective design of Serreria Sobria and Serreria Extravagante, a Libre font-family based on historical lettering that can still be found on the outside walls of the Belgian Sewmill. It not only resulted in a beautiful typeface, but spread interest and expertise amongst people interested in Libre typography in Madrid.

Serreria Sobria is available from the Open Font library

A few months later, Myriam Cea began to work on The Libre Graphics Workstation, a mobile ‘center’ for learning about Libre Graphics. With artschool Arte Diez she developed exciting activities such as Me pica el kerning (I hack my kerning) and formed Colectivo Gráfica Liebre, a group of designers that exercises their new found knowledge on designing conference bags, badges and complicated typographical objects such as the printed programme for the Libre Graphics meeting. In the mean time OSP finished a new brochure announcing all upcoming activities at La Serreria and since last week, Medialab has a new logo too. It is of course using the Serreria font:

The Libre Graphics Workstation is now part of the “lab of labs”-structure at Medialab Prado and will continue to generate and host activities around Libre Graphics. I am also convinced this is not the last time we heard from the Gráfica Liebre collective!

Colectivo Gráfica Liebre … Free hares?

LGM 2012

This year I could only make it for a few days to LGM, but I am glad I came. First of all to meet friends and colleagues, to find out how they and their projects have been. I enjoyed getting hold of a fresh issue of Libre Graphics Magazine for example; The Physical, the Digital and the Designer is once again an excellent collection of articles, images and reviews so make sure you get your hands on it too!

SK1 reloaded: 'Printdesign', a new tool for office printing

I arrived just in time in Vienna to witness the birth of a Scribus GUI-team, something that has been in the making for a while now. Although the discussion at the meeting GUI of Scribus and effectiveness of work showed that developers and designers involved still are getting to grips with what this will mean for the project and it’s team-dynamics, it is a start.

Tom Lechner's demo of a future align+distribute tool

Unfortunately I did arrive too late for Tom Lechners’ talk Weird Layout. Using Inkscape-like align and distribute functionalities, his fresh approach to putting elements in relation to each other actually doesn’t seem that weird at all. If only it would deal with text as elegantly as it handles images?

The Auditorium. Photo: Nicu B., 2012 CC-BY-SA

This year’s venue for LGM was the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien (a brand new auditorium, cantine and several classrooms at our disposal) and ran parallel to the Linuxwochen. It made for some lively inserts but also put the lean organising team and minimalist style of hosting under pressure even more. But participants happily found their way to other places like Metalab, a hackerspace not far from the glossy MuseumsQuartier. Metalab offered us comfortable spaces for working and discussing, and a broken power plug was successfully re-soldered and taped too.

Beautiful cusps with Powerstroke

New to LGM were exciting projects such as Powerstroke, the result of Johan Engelen’s work on multiple width strokes in Inkscape. The construction of smooth ‘calligraphic’ strokes (always in quotation marks!) clearly benefitted from his background in mathematics. Ricardo Lafuente compiled Inkscape with it and looked *very* happy.

HarfBuzz: A fast-moving target

The text-shaping engine HarfBuzz takes care of lay-out at an atomic level. Behdad Esfahbod explained in accessible terms how HarfBuzz tries to simplify and make legible the process of shaping even the most complex of text-lay-outs.

Keeping a promise: Joao delivers Brazilian chocolate for transport to Belgium

It was also interesting to see Máirín Duffy from the Fedora Designteam at work; with her colleague Emily Dirsh she toured us through several collaboration tools for interactive design that they were thinking about and developing. Their slides on Sparkleshare, Magic Mockup and Design Hub: http://duffy.fedorapeople.org/presentations/lgm2012/workflow.svg

And, classified as #tehweird at lgm: SoundFumble; an audio player that takes GIMP image data as input. Without taking anything away from the GIMP-experience, your favourite digital image editor can be a soundmachine too.

I enjoyed introducing Marcos Garcia to LGM and vice versa. We did not present much of the LGRU-work in the end because we wanted to make sure that the Libre Graphics community felt as excited as we were ourselves about LGM in Madrid next year. So we used most of our time to tell some inspiring Medialab Prado stories and I think that was convincing.

Stefanie at Mz Balthazar's Laboratory

That evening I met with Stefanie from Mz Baltazars’ laboratory, a lab or hackerspace for women and trans. We discussed the various methods we were both using to create ‘fearless, accessible plattforms’. It was a nice and useful strategy-swap before I joined the party at Metalab.

Over lunch on Saturday, a discussion with Kate Price, Peter Sikking, Joao Bueno and Chris Lilley about being stuck with the page-metaphor and what that means for graphics traversing from web to print and vice versa. Kate agreed that relational placement made more sense: “Measure at the point where the relationship is“. Which prompted Chris: “The problem with intelligent tools is that you end up argueing with them“. Kate also made interesting connections to CAD-software and Peter referred to Theo Van Doesberg and his idea of designing from the smallest element outwards. Hopefully to be continued.

An invitation to Madrid at the closing session. Photo: Nicu B., 2012 CC-BY-SA

At the closing talk, our invitation to host LGM 2013 in Madrid was accepted with enthusiasm. It felt a bit strange that we were deciding on a second European meeting while being in Europe, but still I am glad to have an opportunity to connect LGM to LGRU and the Spanish-speaking free software community. Apparently the same team of people that invited LGM to Vietnam in 2011 is working on LGM-Asia in 2014 … wouldn’t that be great?

Pen and paper

The LGM splash

An M for Meeting

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

For the 5th edition of the Libre Graphics Meeting, OSP proposed to replace the paint splash by an abstract drawing of three squares forming a flag and also the letter M.1 The splash had been in use since 2006 and some community members felt alienated by the proposal. On 10/10/2009 AL explained on the CREATE-mailinglist: “The main issue for OSP, is that we don’t think continuity can be resolved by going back to the paint splash. We honestly feel it misrepresents the pleasure of using and developing Libre Graphics Tools and we have consciously decided to work with imagery that avoids such remediation.2

Two years later, the Scribus Icon Contest (deadline October 31!)3 seems to have run into a similar argument. One of the proposals features yet another stylized iteration of a fountain pen:

Original Scribus logo

Scribus 1.3.5 introduced: Handwritten textboxes

Calligraphy AND textboxes. Proposal: Ian Hex

I am not the only one who doubts the calligraphic turn. LD responds:
The pen has been around for ages. Yet, a pen has not much to do with DTP and has always seemed to me a bit out of topic or a bit misleading. Typography is not calligraphy. No pen is involved in the work, really. It’s also arguable what a “scribe” has to do with DTP but here I find myself more comfortable since the scribe’s work was in fact to put down the ideas on paper. From that to layout, I think the link is pretty clear.4
GP does not altogether agree: “I think the connection makes some sense in that you have something of a depiction of the work of a scribe, which at least connects to the name Scribus. Furthermore, scribes worked as individuals, sometimes adding embellishments of drop caps and artwork in the margins (primitive layout) and were therefore much like the idea of an individual doing publishing on his own.
He adds: “The difficulty with using computers, screens, mice, keyboards, etc., is that these might be used in the logo for almost any software”

Avoiding the problem: Adobe InDesign (2011)

Reverse evolution: From a typographer's portrait to a writing tool. Aldus Pagemaker (1985)

An individual doing publishing on his own?

It puzzles me why the Scribus community — like other Libre Graphics projects — would want to ignore the rich source of imagery provided by their own object of development. Some keywords for a dreamt logo:
Box, Canvas, Chain, Character, Colour, Column, Curve, Diagram, Document, Figure, Font, Frame, Gap, Grid, Guide, Hyphen, Image, Layer, Line, Margin, Masterpage, Origin, Padding, Page, Pagenumber, Paragraph, Path, Point, Script, Sentence, Shape, Space, Stream, Stroke, Style, Table, Word.

  1. http://ospublish.constantvzw.org/news/watch-this-thread-lgm-site-and-logo-proposal
  2. http://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/create/2009-October/002091.html
  3. http://forums.scribus.net/index.php?topic=243.0
  4. http://lists.scribus.net/pipermail/scribus/2011-October/044555.html

Just ask and that will be that

A conversation with Asheesh Laroia

Our conversation took place at the last day of the Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 in Montreal, a day after the panel ‘How to keep and make productive libre graphics projects?‘. Asheesh had responded rather sharply to someone in the audience who remarked that only a very small number of women was present at LGM: “Bringing the problem back to gender is avoiding the general problem that F/LOSS has with social inclusion“. This statement asked for an explanation.
Another good reason to talk to him are the intriguing ‘Interactive training missions’ that he has been developing as part of the OpenHatch.org project. I wanted to know more about the tutorials he develops; why he decided to work on ‘story manuals’ that explain how to report a bug or how to work with version control.

Asheesh Laroia is someone who realizes that most of the work that makes projects successful is hidden underneath the surface. He volunteered his technical skills for the UN in Uganda, the EFF, and Students for Free Culture, and is a Developer in Debian. Today, he lives in Somerville, MA, working on OpenHatch.org. He speaks about his ideas to audiences at international F/LOSS conferences.

Also available at http://www.ospublish.constantvzw.org.

Bending culture

Asheesh Laroia (AL): The Interactive training missions are really linked to the background of the Open Hatch project itself. I started working on it because to my mind, one of the biggest reasons that people do not participate in free software projects, is that they either don’t know how or don’t feel included.
There is a lot you have to know to be a meaningful contributor to free software and I think that one of the major obstacle for getting that knowledge, and I am being a bit sloppy with the use of the term maybe, is how to understand a conversation on a bug-tracker for example. This is not something you run into in college, learning computer science or any other discipline. In fact, it is an almost anti-academic type of knowledge. Bug tracker conversations are ‘just people talking’, a combination of a comment thread on a blog and actual planning documents. There’s also tools like version control, where close to no one learns about in college. There is something like the culture of participating in mailing-lists and chatting on IRC… what people will expect to hear and what people are expecting from you.

For people like me that have been doing all these things for years, it feels very natural and it is very easy to forget all the advantages I have in this regard. But a lot of the ways people get to the point where I am now involves having friends that help out, like “Hey, I asked what I thought was a reasonable question on this mailing list and I did not get any answer or what they said wasn’t very helpful“. At this stage, if you are lucky, you have a friend that helps you stay in the community. If you don’t, you fall away and think “I’m not going to deal with this, I don’t understand“.
So, the training missions are designed to give you the cultural experience and the tool familiarity
in an automated way. You can stay in the community even when you don’t have a friend, because the robot will explain you what is going on.

Femke Snelting (FS): So how do you ‘harvest’ this cultural information? And how do you bring it into your tool?

AL: There is some creative process in what I call ‘writing the plot’; this is very linear. Each training mission is usually between three and fifteen minutes long so it is OK to have them be linear. In writing the plot, you just imagine what would it take a new contributor to understand not only what to do, but also what a ‘normal community member’ would know to do. The different training missions get this right to different extents.

FS: How does this type of knowledge form, you think? Did you need to become a kind of anthropologist of free software? How do you know you teach the right thing?

AL: I spend a lot of time both working with and thinking about new contributions to free software. Last September I organized a workshop to teach computer science students how to get involved in Open Source. And I have also been teaching inter-personally, in small groups, for ten or eleven years. So I use the workshops to test the missions and than I simply ask what works. But it is tough to evaluate the training missions through workshops because the workshops are intended to be more interpersonal. I definitely had positive feedback, but we need more, especially from people that have been two or three years involved in the free software community, because they understand what it feels like to be part of a community but they may still feel somewhat unsure about whether they have everything and still remember what was confusing to learn.

FS: I wasn’t actually asking about how successful the missions are in teaching the culture free software … I wanted to know how the missions learn from this culture?

AL: So far the plots are really written by me, in collaboration with others. We had one more recent contribution on git written by someone called Mark Freeman who is involved in the OpenHatch project. It did not have so much community discussion but it was also pretty good from the start. So I basically try to dump what is in my head?

FS: I am asking you about this, thinking about a session we once organized at Samedies, a woman-and-free-software group from Brussels. We had invited someone to come talk to us about using IRC on the command-line and she was discussing etiquette. She said: “On IRC you should never ask permission before asking a question“. This was the kind of cultural knowledge she was teaching us and I was a bit puzzled … you could also say that this lack of social interfacing on IRC is a problem. So why replicate that?

AL: In Debian we have a big effort to check the quality of packages and maintaining that quality, even if the developer goes away. It is called the ‘Debian QA project’ and there’s an IRC channel linked to that called #debian-qa. Some of the people on that channel like to say hello to each other and pay attention when other people are speaking, and others said “stop with all the noise“. So finally, the people that liked saying hello moved to another channel: #debian-sayhi.

FS: Meaning the community has made explicit how it wants to be spoken to?

AL: The point I am trying to make here, is that I am agreeing to part of what you are saying, that these norms are actually flexible. But what I am further saying, is that these norms are actually being bent.

Things that could be reasonable

FS: I would like to talk about the new mission on bug reporting you said you were working on, and how that is going. I find bug reports interesting because if they’re good, they mix observation and narration, which asks a lot from the imagination of both the writer and the reader of the report; they need to think themselves in each others place: What did I expect that would happen? What should have happened? What could have gone wrong? Would you say your interactive training missions are a continuation of this collective imaginary work?

AL: A big part of that sort of imagination is understanding the kinds of things that could be reasonable. So this is where cultural knowledge comes in. If you program in C or even if you just read about C, you understand that there is something called ‘pointers’ and something called ‘segfaults’ and if your program ends in that way, that is not a good thing and you should report a bug. This requires an imagination on the side of the person filing the bug.
The training missions give people practice in seeing these sorts of things and understand how they could work. To build a mental model, even if it is fuzzy, that has enough of the right components so they can enter in discussion and imagine what happened.

Mixed feelings

AL: I have mixed feelings about using ‘gender’ as an important characteristic when considering how to grow our communities. It is not a bad idea maybe, and I am working on projects that are related to this as well, but I think it permits a misunderstanding of the problem and puts things in an awkward space, especially when the issue is addressed in a room primarily filled by men and only a few woman. Is what the men say sort of judge-able by the few women in the room? Are they speaking to the women that are not in the room? It becomes all very tenuous and confusing what you can or should say or do. We can skip this by understanding the real issue, which is community inclusiveness.

Of course when there are real issues such as groping at conferences, or making people feel unwelcome because they are shown slides of half-naked people that look like them … that is actually a gender issue and that needs to be addressed. But the example I gave was: “Where are the Indians, where are the Asians in our community?” This is still a confusing question, but not awkward.

FS: Why is it not awkward?

AL: (laughs) As I am an Indian person … you might not be able to tell from the transcription?

It is an easy thing to do, to make generalizations of categories of people based on visible characteristics. Even worse, is to make generalizations about all individual people in that class. It is really easy for people in the free software community to subconsciously think there are no women in the room “because women don’t like to program“, while we know that is really not true. I like to bring up the Indian people as an example because there are obviously a bunch of programmers in India … the impression that they can’t program, can’t be the reason they are excluded.

FS: But in a way that is even more awkward?

AL: Well, maybe I don’t feel it is that awkward because I see how to fix it, and I even see how to fix both problems at the same time.

AL: In free software we are not hungry for people in the same way that corporate hiring departments are. We limp along and sometimes one or two or three people join our project per year as if by magic and we don’t know how and we don’t try to understand how. Sometimes external entities such as Google Summer of Code cause many many more show up at the doorstep of our projects, but because they are so many they don’t get any skills for how to grow.
When I co-ran this workshop at the computer science department at the University of Pennsylvania on how to get involved in open source, we were flooded with applicants. They were basically all feeling enthusiastically about open source but confused about how to get involved. 35% of the attendees were women, and if you look at the photos you’ll see that it wasn’t just women we were diverse on, there were lots of types of people.
That’s a kind of diversity-neutral outreach we need. It is a self-empowerment outreach: ‘you will be cooler after this, we teach you how to do stuff’ and not ‘we need you to do what we want you to do’, which is the hiring-kind of outreach.

FS: And why do you think free software doesn’t usually reach out in this way? Why does the F/LOSS community have such a hard time becoming more diverse?

AL: The F/LOSS community has problems getting more people AND being more diverse. To me, those are the same problems. If we would hand out flyers to people with a clear message saying for example: here is this nice vector drawings program called Inkscape. Try it out and if you want to make it even better, come to this session and we’ll show you how. If you send out this invitation to lots of people, you’ll reach more of them and you’ll reach more diverse people. But the way we do things right now, is that we leave notes on bug trackers saying: “help wanted”. The people that read bug trackers, also know how to read mailing lists. To get to that point, they most likely had help from their friends. Their friends probably looked like them, and there you have a second or third degree diversity reinforcement problem.
But leaving gender diversity and race diversity aside, it is such a small number of people!

The How-To-Contribute page

FS: So, to break that cycle you say there is a need to externalize knowledge … like you are doing with the Open Hatch project and with your project Debian for Shy People? To not only explain how things technically work, but also how they function socially?

AL: I don’t know about externalizing … I think I just want to grow our community. But when I feel more radical, I’d say we should just not write ‘How to contribute’ pages anymore. Put a giant banner there instead saying: “This is such a fun project, come hang out with us on IRC… every Sunday at 3PM”. Five or ten people might show up, and you will be able to have an individual conversation. Quickly you’ll cross a boundary … where you are no longer externalizing knowledge, but simply treat them as part of your group.

The Fedora Design Bounties are a big shining example for me. Maírín Duffy has been writing blog posts about three times a year: “We want you to join our community and here is something specific we want you to do. If you get it right, the prize is that you are part of our community.” The person that you get this way will stick around because he or she came to join the community.

FS: And not because you sent a chocolate cake?

AL: Not for the chocolate cake, and also not for the 5000$ that you get over the course of a Google summer of code project. So, I question whether it is worth spending any time on a wiki-page explaining “How to- contribute” when instead you could attract people one by one, with a 100% success-rate.

FS: Writing a “How to contribute” page does force teams to reflect on what it takes to become part of their community?

AL: Of course that is true. But compared to standing at a job-fair talking to people about their resume, “how to contribute” pages are like anonymous, impersonal walls of text that are not meant to create communication necessarily. If we keep focusing on communicating at this scale, we miss out on the opportunity to make the situation better for individual people that are likely to help us.

Patience is valuable

FS: I feel that the free software community is quite busy with efficiency. When you emphasize the importance of individual dialogue, it sounds like you propose a different angle, even when this in the end has the desired effect of attracting more loyal and reliable contributors.

AL: It is amazing how valuable patience is.

FS: You talked about Paul, the guy that stuck around on the IRC channel saying hi to people and than only later started contributing patches after having seen two or three people going through the process. You said: “If we had implied that this person would only be welcome when he was useful … we would have lost someone that would be useful in the future“.

AL: The obsession with usefulness is a kind of elitism. The Debian project leader once made this sort of half-joke where he said: “Debian developers expect new Debian contributors to appear as fully formed, completely capable Debian developers“. That is the same kind of elitism that speaks from “You can’t be here until you are useful“. By the way, the fact that this guy was some kind of cheerleader was awesome. The number of patches we got because he was standing there being friendly, was meaningful to other contributors, I am sure of it. The truth is … he was always useful, even before he started submitting patches. Borrowing the word ‘useful’ from the most extreme code-only definition, in the end he was even useful by that definition. He had always been useful.

FS: So it is an obsession with a certain kind of usefulness?

AL: Yes.

FS: It is nice to hear you bring up the value of patience. OSP uses the image of a frog as their logo, a reference to the frog from the fairy tale ‘The frog and the princess’. Engaging with free software is a bit like kissing a frog; you never know whether it will turn into a prince before you have dared to love it! To OSP it is important not to expect that things will go the way you are used to … A suspension of disbelief?

A: Or hopefulness! I had a couple of magic moments … one of the biggest magic moments for me was when I as a high school student e-mailed the Linux kernel list and than I got a response! My file system was broken, and fsck-tools were crashing. So I was at the end of what I could do and I thought: let’s ask these amazing people. I ended up in a discussion with a maintainer who told me to submit this bug-report, and use these dump tools … I did all these things and compiled the latest version from version control because we just submitted a patch to it. By the end of the process I had a working file system again. From that moment on I thought: these magic moments will definitely happen again.

Just ask and that will be that

FS: If you want magic moments, than streamlining the communication with your community might not be your best approach?

A: What do you mean by that?

FS: I was happy to find a panel on the program of LGM that addressed how this community could grow. But than I felt a bit frustrated by the way people were talking about it. I think the user- and developer communities around Libre Graphics are relatively small, and all people actually ask for, is dialogue. There seems to be lots of concern about how to connect, and what tools to use for that. The discussion easily drifts into self-deprecating statements such as: “our website is not up-to-date” or “we should have a better logo” or “if only our documentation would be better“. But all of this seems more about putting off or even avoiding the conversation.

AL: Yes, in a way it is. I think that ‘conversations’ are the best, biggest thing that F/LOSS has to offer its users, in comparison with proprietary software. But a lot of the behavioral habits we have within F/LOSS and also as people living in North America, is derived from what we see corporations doing. We accept this as our personal strategies because we do not know any alternatives. The more I say about this, the more I sound like a hippie but I think I’ll have to take the risk (laughs).

If you go to the Flash website, it tells you the important things you need to know about Flash, and than you click download. Maybe there is a link to a complex survey that tries to gather data en masse of untold millions of users. I think that any randomly chosen website of a Libre Graphics project will look similar. But instead it could say when you click download or run the software … “we’re a bunch of people … why don’t you come talk to us on IRC?

There are a lot people that are not in the conversation because nobody ever invited them. This is why I think about diversity in terms of outreach, not in terms of criticizing existing figures. If in some alternate reality we would want to build a F/LOSS community that exists out of 90% women and 10% men, I bet we could do it. You just start with finding a college student at a school that has a good Computer Science program … she develops a program with a bunch of her friends … she puts up flyers in other colleges … You could do this because there are relatively so little programmers in the world busy with developing F/LOSS that you can almost handpick the diversity content of your community. Between one and a thousand … you could do that. There are 6 million thousand people on this planet and the amount of people NOT doing F/LOSS is enormous. Don’t wring your hands about “where are the women“. Just ask them to join and that will be that!