Why do people go to conferences? For the people!

People go to conferences to see friends, meet people and learn new things.

Over 80% of people said that seeing friends and meeting new people was the reason they went to conferences or it was very important. 53% of people said "attendees they want to hang out with" is the reason they go to conferences. The comments really reflected this with people talking about how meeting people renewed their energy and many talked about how "fun" it is!

Good speakers followed as a close second with 96% of people saying the talks were at least somewhat interesting. (Two thirds thought the talks were very interesting or the reason they go to conferences.) Interestingly enough 100% of people thought meeting the speakers was at least somewhat interesting. I didn't ask why they wanted to meet the speakers … I assume to talk to them about their  topic but perhaps it's just meeting someone famous!

Keynotes were less of a draw, 15% of people couldn't care less about them and half (51%) thought they were only somewhat interesting. So that would kill my fame idea …

Closely related to meeting people and listening to talks is learning new things. Both learning more about topics you are already interested in and learning about new topics ranked high for most people.

But here's the data. You can see for yourself.

This data is not necessarily statistically significant. I didn't ask for any demographic data. I recruited people on this blog and on twitter. That crowd is definitely not representative of the general population. (But I wouldn't want to ask the general random population about attending conferences.) You are welcome to use the data and blog about it yourself, just link back to here or explain where you got it from.

In this first question, I added two items to the list after it started, so that's why the responses for the last ones are lower. Also, the first two respondents couldn't pick an answer in every row. They alerted me to the problem and I fixed it for everyone else.


I was impressed by how many people would go out of their way to see their favorite speaker speak again. Especially since most speakers tend to talk about the same topic.

This question would have obviously been better as a percentage and I did open a new survey just for this question (redone) but very few people responded to that one.


And then I asked people in their own words why they went to conferences:

  • To learn something new, meet new people, and touch base with people I've met previously.   
  • I think good conferences are inspirational for the attendees, and I like to travel, so both thing make me go to conferences.   
  • That is a good question…
  • To meet my preferred e-mail addresses contacts face to face
  • To be an active member of the community
  • To hook up with people
  • Meet old freinds, make new freinds, be seen, learn about the latest developments
  • To meet F2F with colleagues and come to concensus on how to solve the problems that vex us, where email/irc/other distractions simply don't allow progress to be made otherwise.
  • To learn, expand my horizon, see / hear about technology 'at the edge'
  • to learn new stuff
  • A combination of the talks (news), friends and beer.
  • I go to present, to meet people and to hang out in the "hallway track"
  • Sell, Sell, Sell! Party!
  • networking
  • because they rock
  • To Learn more about the organization and product.
  • to collaborate, start collaborations, and have a good time with friends   
  • To renew energies in my FLOSS involvement
  • Because of the people I meet there!
  • meeting co-developers, learning interesting things about other projects (by talks) or even your own project
  • Meet people, help build up the FOSS community, learn about technologies
  • I want to know where the open source community at large is heading.. also I really like keynotes but if they get posted as OGGs I skip them because I don't want to miss the small parallel tracks
  • Its vital for making me feel that im part of a community made up of real people, not just hacking gods. The creativity blossoms at conferences, while there is some creativity in irc channels, i havent seen this offline creativity and lust for hacking replicated online.
  • fun and interesting
  • It's fun! 🙂
  • For the feeling you get that you are part of something big.
  • Metting people. It's easier to interact with people through the Internet if you konw them in real life
  • I go to get an introduction on technical subjects that my peers find exciting
  • networking
  • for the people
  • Spending time with peers, interesting venues (fortunately I'm "new" enough that every conference has been a different city), renewing my interest in volunteering on specific projects.
  • It's different for "work" conferences compared to "play" conferences. But in both cases you get a chance to hear the best in the field, make new contacts, learn what others are doing (find out the cutting edge), and publicise yourself/your company.
  • Meeting with Friends
  • Learn new Things meet great ppl
  • To expand my circle of contacts and learn about new tech.
  • To meet people
  • People! 🙂
  • To learn new things
  • I typically go to conferences to meet new people and hang out with old friends. However, it really depends on why I am at the conference. When I am at the conference for a project I am usually in a booth or talking to people about the project. I catch a few talks if I know they will be good. If I am at a conference for myself I usually hang out around booths, see a few talks and talk with people in the halls. If I am at a conference to attend for work I feel I have to see as many talks as possible and end up limiting my talking with friends and new people.
  • No single reason; meeting up with folks, learning new things, promoting our work, arguing about stuff 😉
  • meeting and talking to people who work in the same/related space
  • I go to meet people, show what I've worked on, plan for future things. And to party!
  • To better myself, via the sharing of ideas with like minded people
  • for the bandwidth of face-to-face ideas exchange
  • To hear other people opinions about the stuff I think I'm good in. And then to rethink if I'm really good.
  • To Connect!
  • Learn, network, and recharge.
  • network with people
  • To gather with interesting people and listen to them talk about interesting things.
  • To meet people
  • To learn and to network.

Why do you go to conferences?

Shinemy To be honest with you, I go to conferences to meet people. I see old friends, meet online friends in person and meet new people. While I occasionally see a good talk, like Dries Buytaert's rules for creating a great community, I usually only go to talks to start conversations in twitter or on my blog.

Lately I've had a strong desire to turn my talks into conversations instead of lectures. That's what I did at SCALE and at the Collaboration Summit. (Losing my voice at the Collaboration Summit ensured that I had to make it a conversation!)

So today when I got an email advertising a conference's keynotes, I wondered – who goes to see the keynotes and why. And if not to see the keynotes, why do people go to conferences?

I created a survey in SurveyMonkey, and you can see the results on my blog.

Photo by dkalo.

Actually, it is all about you

We spend a lot of time telling people "it's not all about you". At least I tell my 8 year old that every once in a while and I've heard it a few times myself. (And I sometimes really want to tell other people that it's not all about them.)

DVSPhotographer But playing hockey on Sunday I decided it is all about you.

When teams are doing poorly, some people do nothing different (which is frustrating), others blame everyone else on the team for doing the wrong thing (which is demoralizing) and some people buckle down and try harder. Which ones do you think make the best team players and help the team win?

I have to admit that all too often I fall into the blaming others group. It's much, much easier to see what everyone else could be doing differently. However, since this was my second hockey game in 5 years, this time it was easy for me to realize that I was probably part of the problem! (We won the game. Probably not due to anything I did. As the matter of a fact, it was probably due to the 10 year old that joined our team …)

So the next time your team is having trouble, remember, it is all about you. Figure out what you can do differently and work your hardest! (For my part, I'm going to work on transitioning from skating forward to backwards without losing momentum, picking up the puck when I take a shot, passing to where people are, not where they were, … well, you get the picture.)

Photo by DVS Photographer.

Hackfests, fundraising and the economy

When I took this job it was agreed that part of my job, but not all of it, would be fundraising. However, because of the economy I find myself thinking about fundraising more often than not these days.

For example, take hackfests. Hackfests are events where you get all the key developers for a project together in one place and they spend a few days or a week discussing issues, planning future releases and writing code. As most open source work happens virtually, hackfests are great opportunity to meet in person and make a lot of progress on things like planning a new release or a particular issue.

Last year many of the GNOME Foundation sponsor companies sponsored hackfests. They were happy with the outcomes – good conversations, good code, great planning sessions – and at the beginning of this year they were interested in sponsoring more hackfests. So we were tentatively planning for about six hackfests this year. However, when we went to raise funding for the first one, a GTK+ hackfest, we soon found that while companies still thought hackfests were a good idea, but, with a couple of exceptions, they no longer had any budget to help fund them. (The notable exceptions: Intel is funding a GNOME documentation hackfest in June and Igalia wanted to sponsor the GTK+ hackfest that we had to cancel.)

So what do we do?

  1. Find more economical ways to run hackfests. We can plan them close to other events where people might already be, have smaller hackfests, coordinate multiple hackfests at the same time, etc. (It disappointed me that nobody has taken Nokia up on their offer to host related hackfests at the Danish Mozilla/Maemo Weekend.)
  2. Find additional funding sources. There are many types of funding out there, some of them easier than others to acquire. For example, there are grants, which might take us a while but could provide substantial funding. There is individual support. The Free Software Foundation is primarily funded by individuals that believe in their cause, not companies. At $10/month, they have enough individual sponsors to support a much larger organization than the GNOME Foundation. So we can and should encourage GNOME users and supporters to sign up for Friends of GNOME.
  3. Find other ways to accomplish what hackfests do. While there is no substitute for face to face conversation, some of the work can be accomplished by virtual hackfests, dedicated hack days, setting goals and milestones, …

Other ideas? Thoughts?

How to figure out if you can be a good advisor

Over the past year I've had the chance to be an "advisor" to several different organizations. There's lots of different types of advisory roles. The word advisor can cover all sorts of jobs:

  • Giving public endorsement
  • Being a consultant and doing work for hire.
  • Giving advice (but not necessarily being listened to.)
  • Managing/directing a project or group.
  • Getting public recognition as an "advisor" in exchange for doing work.

I'm not going to go into what being an advisor should be. However, I do think these are some of the questions you should ask if you are asked to be an advisor:

  1. What do you expect from me? What will my responsibilities be? This could range from making introductions, blogging, speaking on behalf of the organization, allowing them to use your name as an endorsement, managing a committee, … you just want to know what they expect before you sign up. The group asking you to be an advisor may not be able to articulate it but if you talk to them long enough, you might be able to figure it out.
  2. Will I be paid? I've had all sorts of experiences in this area. I've been paid well, I've not been paid for substantial amounts of work, I've had my travel covered and I've even received a surprise payment. Any of those is ok, as long as you agree to it.
  3. Who makes the decisions for the project I'm advising? Will that person be the one I talk to regularly? (And I strongly recommend that if you don't get to directly advise the people making the decisions and you will be publicly affiliated with the project, you should turn down the opportunity.)
  4. Is this group wanting to change? Why do they want an advisor? Is it for public perception reasons or are they committed to making change?
  5. Why does this group want an advisor now? Is there a particular issue they are facing? Is it one you can help with?
  6. Who else will be advising? Depending on all the other answers, it might be important to have other advisors who will reinforce your opinions or it might be important to have people that will offer a wide variety of opinions.
  7. What do you want the advisors to accomplish? Often I've found that the people seeking advisors already know the advice they want and just need help convincing others in their organization.

Anything else? What has been your experience?

Book review: The Middle-Class Millionaire

I like studies that try to explain how societies work. I also like books that explain how we think about money and how our beliefs affect what we do with it. So I enjoyed reading the The Middle-Class Millionaire: The Rise of the New Rich and How They Are Changing America. It was an entertaining book to be taken with a grain of salt.

The authors compared a group of people with a net worth between $1 million and $10 million to a group of people that made between $50,000 and $80,000 a year with a net worth of under $1 million. They concluded that both groups considered themselves middle class. (Interestingly enough, the poorer group was more likely to consider themselves upper middle class than the richer group.) The two groups did vary on a couple of key points.

  1. The millionaires were much more likely to work for themselves and to place a very high value on career and self-development. They were more likely to hire personal coaches and to own their own businesses.
  2. They also work many more hours – 70 hours/week on average compared to 40 hours/week in the control group.
  3. They were more likely to try again in the face of failure. While most of the "regular" middle class would try something different if their first venture ended in bankruptcy, the millionaire group said that they'd try again or you wouldn't benefit from what you learned.
  4. While they both valued education highly, the millionaire group was much more likely to take their kids' failure in school as their own failure and much more likely to pick a house based on schools. The control group was more likely to pick a house near work than a house near good schools. (The millionaire group was also very likely to tear down an old house in a neighborhood they liked to build the house they wanted where they wanted it. The book theorized you can tell the best schools by looking at neighborhoods with the most tear downs!)
  5. They are much more likely to refer specialists (doctors, accountants, lawyers, etc) to friends and much more likely to pick one based on referrals.

Both groups valued education, family, and high ethical standards.

However the point of the book wasn't to point out how different the groups were (although they did a lot of that) but rather to point out how the millionaire group often leads the way when it comes to lifestyle, shopping and habits. (And this group of people, according to the book's study, spend a lot of money!) Middle-class millionaires are the first to buy Tesla cars (cool electric cars) and eventually cheaper models will be developed. They are the first to have home generators, solar power, coaches, health care advocates, etc. The book recommended developing and marketing new products to this group.

The authors obviously considered themselves part of the regular middle class and aspire to be middle-class millionaires. The last chapter covers how to become a middle class millionaire. In short, work lots, start your own business, try and try again, network lots. And did I say work lots? Oh, and pick a profitable field.

What would you say about the State of GNOME?

Against my dad's best advice, I'm going to admit that I don't feel like I'm the best person to give a "State of GNOME" talk. I mean, it's an open source project. I don't run it, I don't manage it and people not only don't ask me for permission to do things, they don't make a point of making sure I know everything. And that's good! I find out most of my GNOME news the way everyone else does – through blogs, mailing lists and wiki's. We are an effective open source software project and communication is good. That said, I'm happy to help spread the word of all the good things GNOME is up to. (And if you'd like to help too, please join the GNOME Marketing team!)

So, here's what I think I will say about the State of GNOME talk the Collaboration Summit this week. Feel free to add points in the comments or point me to more info. (If you are going to be at the Collaboration Summit and would like to help give this presentation as a member of GNOME or help with QA, let me know!)

The GNOME desktop is alive and well. Despite rumors that everyone and everything is moving to the browser, the desktop is here to stay.

It is true that the desktop is evolving. People are using their desktop differently. You have netbooks, smartphones, multiple desktops, online apps, … so what people expect and need out of their desktop is now different. (And to be honest, most users don't care about their desktop. They care about their email or their social network or the app they use for work. And the desktop or their phone or their netbook just gets them there. You care a little bit, like you care what kind of shoes you wear or what kind of car you drive, but most of the time, you just want it to work painlessly and easily.)

Luckily there are a lot of people who think about the desktop a lot. They make sure it works really well for all the others that just need it to access their stuff. Who are these people? Volunteers, free software lovers, passionate developers, translators and designers determined to make technology accessible to all.

The GNOME community has 2000+ contributors. 400 of those are members of the GNOME Foundation. 300-500 come together every year for GUADEC. 40% of them are paid to work on GNOME, the other 60% do it on their own time. The 40% are paid by lots of different companies. These 20 sponsor the GNOME Foundation – the list continues to grow and there are companies outside of this list that hire GNOME developers.

All these people the community –
contributors and users alike – as well as the companies, have
a shared mission and values. Although the GNOME mission is articulated in many different ways by different people, it's basically to provide a free and open desktop platform for the world, accessible to all regardless of ability, financial resources or nationality. And by desktop, I mean your interface to your technology. GNOME also applies to netbooks and smartphones.

The values of the GNOME community have been clearly defined and articulated over time:

  • Accessibility. I've had a chance to work a bit with the a11y folks lately – they're a great team.
    Accessibility means making sure the technology you have works for you,
    regardless of whether you can hear the beeps that you have new mail
    (maybe it flashes at you instead), regardless of whether you can read
    that size 8 font document someone sent you (what were they thinking? –
    at least you can easily magnify it), regardless even if you can double
    click your mouse.  And much, much more. They have screencasts online. We're going to have 2-3 summer interns from HFOSS working on GNOME a11y this summer.

  • Internationalized. GNOME is internationalized into many, many languages and the number grows – daily it seems. Recently the GNOME board was contacted by someone from Nigeria who wanted someone from GNOME to go speak at an open source conference in Nigeria. I have to admit that we (especially me) were skeptical at first but it turns out they even have a GNOME Users Group in Nigeria that's been translating GNOME!

  • Easy to use. A lot of what you see in GNOME 3.0 is intended to make GNOME easier to use. GNOME also places importance on making smart default choices for the user.

  • Beauty. Beauty as in look good but also as in function well, elegantly, simply.

  • Working well with companies. GNOME has a long tradition of working well with companies and has developed things like 6 month release cycles and the GNOME Foundation Advisory Board to maintain those working relationships.

  • Having fun!

GNOME 3.0. A state of GNOME talk would not be complete without mentioning GNOME 3.0! We announced GNOME 3.0 last week. Actually it was announced at GUADEC last summer but there's been a lot of activity kicked off last week by the release team. (And you can read the whole account on the Planning for 3.0 website.)

In the Planning document, the release team first addresses vision – GNOME 3.0 needs an overall vision for the entire GNOME project. "What we are missing is people blessing one specific vision and making
it official, giving goals to the community so we can all work together
in the same direction." These days GNOME includes not "just" the desktop but a lot of applications. We need a vision and a direction for the entire GNOME project.

They called out 3 areas of focus for GNOME 3.0:

  • User Experience
  • Streamlining of the Platform
  • Promotion of GNOME

On the user experience side they focused on two projects:

  • GNOME Shell is a new way of managing your panels, launching applications, finding documents, etc.
  • Document management. GNOME Zeitgeist is a new way of finding documents. The days of carefully storing documents into organized folders are over for most people. Zeitgeist adds most recently opened, tags, comments, location, etc to help you find your data.

On the steam lining side of things, the release team is working on deprecating old stuff in an organized fashion while adding new technologies like Clutter and support more languages like Javascript.

Promotion is primarily marketing. Promoting GNOME, attracting new developers, highlighting applications (I'd guess that most people don't think of applications when they think of GNOME), launching a much needed redesigned website.

Other changes the release team called out as worth mentioning:

  • Desktop Testing which was launched recently.
  • Art/Design. There's been lots of work on theming (like at the GTK+ Theming Hackfest) and we hope to have good collaboration between developers and designers.
  • People and social networking. A lot of work has gone into the telepathy framework enabling interaction not only between people and apps but between people.
  • Mobile:
    the GNOME Mobile platform was first introduced in GNOME 2.24 and since then a lot of the work GNOME developers have done has been towards making desktop technologies function well in the mobile space – devices with small screens, limited processing or alternate input methods like touch screens.

So come join us in developing the future of the desktop. We need everyone from coders to designers, from testers to writers, from promoters to users.

What would you add to the State of GNOME?

Twitter’s friend strategy is not a popularity contest

One of the cooler things about Twitter is that friends are not necessarily mutual. You can listen to whomever you want and anyone can listen to you, and those lists aren't the same.

But I'm amazed at how many people want to keep it a mutual friends game. A game of tit for tat. And for me, that detracts from the power of Twitter. It's much more powerful when it's like blogs. I get to "listen" to people I think are interesting and pass on those things that I think are most interesting without a whole bunch of noise. I especially find Twitter useful at conferences.

Until recently, if someone followed me on twitter, I followed them back. (After making sure they weren't a spammer.)  However, I realized that following over 900 people meant that I didn't really hear anyone. So I created a quick policy.

If I know you (in person or online) or if I'd had interactions with you on twitter, I kept following you.

But if I didn't know the person, had never heard of them except through twitter and:

They follow more than a 1,000 people. (They obviously can't follow/talk to all of them. I know from personal experience.)


They only talked, never replied. (To me twitter is about a conversation and passing on good ideas, not about reading someone's timeline.)


They only talked about their product. (Surely life is more interesting than just that?)


They talked way, way too much. (Then it hides what everyone else is saying.)

Then I unfollowed them. (I made a few exceptions and I'm sure I made a few mistakes, but that was my general process.)

The surprising thing to me was the people that unfollowed me immediately. (It was actually a small percentage of the number of people I unfollowed.) However, it meant to me that they were only following me because I was following them. So obviously they weren't really interested in what I had to say.

So why were they following me in the first place? So they could look like a large number of people were following them? So that huge numbers of people would hear what they have to say? I don't know. It doesn't make sense to me.

Follow people you find interesting. Pass on interesting thoughts. Don't worry about how many people follow you back. It doesn't mean they don't like you! (Unless no one follows you. Then you might stop and consider how
interesting or useful you are being … but that's a different topic.) In the real world we can't have meaningful conversations with 1000+ people every day. The online world is no different. That doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to those you find interesting.

Twitter is an extremely useful tool. But it's not a good popularity contest!

Photo by fofurasfelinas.

Make everyone feel like your favorite

My two year old's favorite saying right now is "it's my favorite." I believe he picked it up from his granny.

Which made me think … I thought I was both of my granny's favorite. Both of my grandmothers had a huge influence in my life. And I am absolutely sure I was their favorite.

Actually, I'm not that sure anymore. I think they somehow managed to make every one of their grandkids feel like their favorite. Whenever I talked to them, I was sure I was their favorite. They loved me, cared about me and supported me 100%. That empowered me to take on the world. To stand up for others. To make the world a better place.

Make sure everyone in your life knows that they are your favorite! Your favorite developer, your favorite partner, your favorite kid, your favorite advocate, your favorite blogger, … give kudos! Pass it on!

Photo by jaeWALK.

Supporting free software with grant money

I recently started investigating how GNOME could fund projects with grant money. Will Ross sent me an email with a lot of good information and I’d like to share his experience with others in the open source software community.

DSCF0535aWill Ross is a project manager with Mendocino Informatics, a small healthcare technology consulting firm in Mendocino County, California. Prior to Mendocino Informatics, Will was CTO for a consortium of nonprofit community clinics, and before that worked on the network infrastructure teams for two Bay Area dot-coms that *didn’t* fail (Organic Online & LoudCloud). Will spent the 90s as CIO for a mail order company and writing SQL queries for a multinational manufacturing company.

Hi, Will. You have successfully developed a business that provides open source software to healthcare organizations funded by grants. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I work in community-based nonprofit health care. Using grant funds to develop open source software is my standard procedure. Specifically, I write grant proposals to foundations who fund health care software deployment projects. When I get the grant, instead of buying some COTS package I use the funds to add features to an open source project, or to write a technical implementation guide and release it under an open source license (see the ELINCS guide on my home page). In most cases the foundations are uninformed about open source intellectual property issues. It is typically not a requirement of the grant that I invest the project funds in open source, it’s just something that I do because of my personal convictions about the need to restore balance to the
intellectual property commons.

Have you been successful?

I have been self-employed at this since 2004. Since then I’ve used grant funds to purchase about $500 k in software engineering development for three open source health care projects — OpenHRE, ClearHealth and Mirth. Right now I’m working exclusively on the Mirth project, and have recently lined up an additional $100k in funding to develop further features on the product roadmap.

How do you go about writing grant proposals?

Basically, as an IT project manager I work entirely at the application layer within the health care sector. I start with the general list of tasks that need to be done in the field. I investigate software functionality from a user-centered workflow perspective. That is, I don’t impose software on users, I look at their current workflow with an eye towards optimizing the business rules and disrupting COTS solutions with FOSS solutions. This process identifies gaps where FOSS tools are not yet enterprise class, and where my grantwriting can raise the quality of FOSS tools to the expectations of enterprise CIOs. Then, knowing what I need to build, I pay attention to any grant funding that becomes available. Right now I’m working on proposals that will apply for funding from the HITECH act recently passed by Congress.   Grant opportunities ebb and flow. When one opens up that is a good match for the opportunities I have identified, then it’s typically a three or four week deadline to gather all the details, pull stakeholders together and write a credible proposal.

How often are you successful getting a grant?

Writing a proposal is a huge time sink with no pay; that is, it’s entirely a business development write off. I try to focus only on grant opportunities where I have a good chance of success. When I find an opportunity, I write a proposal. Overall, my track record as a grant writer is probably about 30%. That is, I write about 10 proposals a year and get 3 or 4.

What advice do you offer to open source organizations looking for funding?

I want you to know that you have friends in the field — software users who are annoyed by and dislike their current cumbersome COTS tools. Study the user experience at the level of the business rules their software makes them follow, and look for opportunities to optimize their work flow by migrating them to new, more agile FOSS tools. In shops that already understand FOSS applications, you may be able to write grants to “purchase” open source software development, as
I do.

What do you use the grant money for? Do you pay yourself?

The exact sequence of steps is that I write proposals for free, sometimes investing more than 100 hours into a proposal. If a proposal is funded, then as the project architect who developed the specific technology roadmap, I get the project management contract. In terms of the whole lifecycle of the process, I get paid for about 60% of my time, and the rest is invested in studying the sector, attending conferences, serving on public committees and becoming conversant with
the user perspective in the market vertical.

I’m not a coder. I’m a project manager who writes grant proposals so I can have interesting work and live in a rural area. When I get a grant, I pay professional coders to write the apps. Currently I am working on a huge suite of Java apps (for Mirth, which is published under the MPL) that will disrupt the business lines of several major COTS network app vendors in health care. The short version I tell people is that I write grant proposals to develop free software that can be given away to nonprofit health care facilities. The reality is a little more complicated, but its generally too much information so I try to keep the story short.

Do the grant organizations give you preference because you are developing free software?

The funders generally do not pay attention to whether their grantees are buying COTS or building FOSS.  When I propose a project to a funder, about half the time it is not relevant to mention that the funds will be spent on a FOSS solution;  it would be too much information to the funder. Also, I got burned once when I didn’t read the fine print in a grant contract and later I discovered that I was prohibited from releasing that work as FOSS, but otherwise it has not been an issue. I guess the more important point is that at a basic level the foundations are generally so tactically focused on their mission that they don’t “get” the underlying strategic social value of a rich intellectual property commons, so in most cases they treat a FOSS pitch as incoherent babble that is off topic from their particular social agenda. So, a lot of the time I leave out the FOSS part and present the funder with a project that does the specific things they are mission driven to accomplish.

What advice do you offer to developers looking to fund work on open source software projects?

Find operating nonprofits in the service sector with FOSS savvy CIOs who need enterprise class tools but are stuck with legacy COTS apps, and then look to the funders who support those nonprofits. That’s my story. I get it because I was a CIO in the 1990s, and FOSS tools that were enterprise class were easy to integrate into my shop.

Thanks, Will, for sharing your expertise with us!

I’d like to encourage the GNOME community to submit ideas for GNOME projects, http://live.gnome.org/Grants.