FOSDEM 2015, my first year in open source

Written on February 4, 2015

It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was trying to process the wonder that was FOSDEM 2014, and boy was it a different experience back then…

Not only was it my first open source conference, it was my first tech conference ever. I barely knew any people let alone projects, a writer who just landed from planet proprietary software straight into the biggest congregation of FOSS geeks that was completely .org.

Hell, I didn’t even know the jargon of .com versus .org back then! 

Throughout the weekend I clung to the few people I did know as if my life depended on it, and by the end of it I was neither comfortable in my own skin nor did I feel like I belong. I returned home with more questions than answers, and with a fair amount of frustration… 

I’m happy to say that things changed quite a bit since then. Between multiple product releases at Red Hat, Write the Docs, Django Girls, tech talks, sprints, and hackfests, I’ve accumulated technical experience, community relationships, a bunch of friends, and a great deal of confidence!

 

This year I spent most of my days assisting at the Fedora and NixOS booths (my two favorite distros), as well as catching up with friends and colleagues from Red Hat, KDE, Kolab, FSFE, and Write the Docs.

I had lots of interesting discussions about the great progress that FOSS projects have done with documentation. Write the Docs is now a recognizable name, and I was amused that some folks who heard that I was a technical writer mentioned it before I had a chance to!

I was also pleased and proud to see more women attendees at the conference, and it made me feel proud that our communities actively trying to welcome women into their midst and helping them feel comfortable at such an event.

And unlike last year, not a single new person that I introduced myself to assumed that I was in marketing, recruiting, or “someone’s girlfriend”, but instead asked the correct question, “where do you work/what do you do?”, as one would expect to be asked if they turn up at a tech conference.

Well played, communities. You’ve come a long way in such a short year, and I’m happy to be a part of this society.

As I finish writing this blog post, I’m also getting ready to kick-off the Django Girls workshop in Brno, which I hope will inspire more women to join the circus and gain experience and confidence as budding geeks!