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From Marvin Humphrey <mar...@rectangular.com>
Subject Re: Interesting community development practice
Date Sun, 04 Nov 2012 17:04:37 GMT
On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 4:58 AM, Ross Gardler
<rgardler@opendirective.com> wrote:
> In reviewing this months board reports I noted the following in the
> Apache Lucy report:
>
> Lucy Book Club (http://wiki.apache.org/lucy/LucyBookClub) has been meeting
>     regularly and has recently spawned some development efforts in Ruby and
>     Python.
>
> Basically it's a weekly Google Hangout meeting where participants are
> reading through a book relevant to the community. Sounds like a great
> idea that can be easily replicated across other communities.

It has definitely worked well for us.  We're learning the material more
thoroughly than we would studying alone, and we're deepening the ties between
project contributors at the same time.

There are 5 regular participants, including 3 PMC members.  Since the book is
relevant to ongoing work, it is natural to use the project codebase to
illustrate principles and problems in the book.

Of course the usual warnings apply about the danger of timezone-based
exclusivity and making sure that all project decisions get brought to the dev
list, but the Lucy community is well-drilled on those topics.

Another possibility might be for Apache committers to form study groups while
taking online courses:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/massive-open-online-courses-are-multiplying-at-a-rapid-pace.html

    Others like the discipline a group offers. Kimberly Spillman, a software
    engineer, started taking seven MOOCs and completed three.  "The ones I
    have study groups with people, those are the ones I finish," Ms. Spillman
    says.  She first joined a group for Dr. Thrun’s artificial intelligence
    course, and then ran one for a Udacity course on building a search engine,
    organizing Thursday-evening discussions of the week's material followed by
    a social hour at a nearby pub.  Fifteen people met each week at the Ansir
    Innovation Center, a community space with big tables and comfortable
    chairs, in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood of San Diego.

(It's amusing to me that I knew nothing of this group until I read about it in
the New York Times, since I live in San Diego, make my living writing open
source search engine software, and recently attended a Python meetup at
Ansir.)

However, one downside to choosing a book or a course as your curriculum is
that the up-front cost makes it less likely that people will join up
midstream.  Using a free web resource like a lengthy tutorial or online book
might be better.

For instance, I might suggest _Producing Open Source Software_ by Karl Fogel
as a nice text for community@apache or the Incubator.  :)

    http://producingoss.com/

A couple caveats about videoconferencing:

*   Google Plus Hangouts are limited to 10 participants.  There are other
    possibilities for video chat, but Hangouts was easiest to get started
    with and we haven't hit the ceiling yet.
*   Technical issues like dropped connections and inadvertent intrusions of
    background noise can be a distraction, especially since connectivity is ad
    hoc per participant (as opposed to e.g. supported by an IT department when
    connecting corporate offices).  Some day we'll look back on this era and
    laugh, but we're not there yet.

Marvin Humphrey

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