Brian Gough’s Notes

Archive for April, 2009

LibrePlanet 2009

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

I gave a talk at the FSF’s LibrePlanet event last month — it was a report on the GNU Hackers Meeting (GHM) that I organised last year in the UK.

The LibrePlanet wiki has a summary of the talk including the slides.

The initial part of the talk was a description of the meeting and how it was organised, but the main focus was the role of communication in the GNU Project.

Historically most GNU Project communication has been though email (along with webpages, and IRC) rather than face-to-face. There have been several decades of research on “computer-mediated communication” as it is called in the literature, and there are a number of negative effects which are well established (such as communication being less robust, difficulty establishing common ground, and decreased motivation and commitment).

Given these negative effects, I suggested we should (a) be more explicitly aware of them and how they impact our work, both day-to-day and on the large scale (i.e. in terms of how they “shape” individual programs and the free software ecosystem as a whole) and (b) look for ways to mitigate them.

Having a regular GNU Hackers meeting is one way to do that, and I encouraged people at the LibrePlanet event to hold one in the US.