On Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 9:47 PM, Siddhesh Poyarekar
I believe the reason for this has very little to do with the
project or DVD distribution, although I understand why you would want
to raise questions about both initiatives - they seem like things
targeted at the 'less fortunate'. The real reason seems to be to be
the fact that most people who receive this media are more intent on
solving their own problem (build something with it, like their college
assignment, replace the coaster that their neighbour stole, etc.) than
being involved in the project itself in any capacity. A lot of times
they may use it for a project and then completely forget about it -
this was true 13 years ago when I was studying in college and saw
people around me use RHL/Debian for their projects and then forget
what ls did the very next day, so I don't see why that truth won't
prevail today. The idea of software freedom is actually a much harder
sell in these regions than it is in NA/EMEA since the idea of Freedom
itself is not as well appreciated.
Firstly, thanks for writing in and thus providing a cue to bring up
something which has been specifically bothering me.
I brought up the topic of impact of DVD distribution to check if the
conversation would steer towards the assessment of impact of all the
activities which are planned and in the pipeline. DVDs as swag along
with stickers have become a sort of norm for the events. And I am
somewhat certain that they aren't actually used the way we think they
will be ie. people go home and install. A quick note would be around
the volume of DVD give-aways during FUDCon Pune and the general lack
of conversations on our forums. For what it is worth, I subscribe to a
reasonably large cross-section of mailing lists (around FOSS etc) from
around the country and I haven't read anyone seeking
help/guidance/assistance based on a give-away they received. Of
course, this is an anecdote of one and thus statistically irrelevant.
But I had hoped to be proven wrong and there was indeed a small (if
not growing) number of recipients of the DVDs who have installed and
are finding their new OS platform useful.
Now, why did I pick on Freemedia? Because the system provides us with
the ability to understand (and visualize) the regions where a good bit
of the DVDs are being shipped. 2 cycles ago I noticed a reasonably
high number of DVDs being asked from Jaipur and Gurgaon. That is just
one example based on a cursory perusal of the trac. It is possible
that we can simply look at the PIN codes and plan around FADs or,
introductory workshops in those regions. It will require funds to get
contributors there as well as the time from those volunteering.
However, it is also possible to do this in a manner which can be
re-used. As an example, introduction to use Project Atomic bits could
be structured into how to securely package your application and thus
include further 'gentle introduction' to security practices,
packaging, networking, compilers, tool-chain, build-tools etc. Given
the attention span of a student audience, learning something from the
MOOCs and designing content to be delivered is a good place to start.
This plan has the added benefit of expanding our existing community to
include technical authors, content writers, instructional designers,
embedded systems folks etc. It is possible to share knowledge in a
project oriented format which can result in skills and aptitude being
created which enable the audience to advance their careers. A small
number of the existing Fedora contributors from India have already
done lateral or, even major career shifts - this personal experience
is useful when designing something that can help the audience (of
It is my belief that while as a project and a community in India we
talk about "growing the community", it is our fiduciary duty to ensure
that new contributors and especially students can use bits from Fedora
as a platform to work on things and work with things for creation. The
economy around us is changing fast and the standard 'IT/CompSci'
course from an institute (even if very reputed) is no longer a good
hedge. If the project itself can figure out ways to address this
situation - we become useful. Is this easy? It is not. Is this hard?
You can absolutely take that for granted. Should we do this? I believe
we should. We could plan to start small. A minimum viable plan that
uses the least possible resources (time, volunteers and funds) to go
about this could be a generally safe place to start from.
Is this off-topic for this list? Perhaps. Why did I not write this up
early enough? Well, I did use my time at FUDCon Pune to speak about
this and I thought it was reasonably evident. Do I continue to insist
that Freemedia should be stopped? I'm not the one to demand that it be
stopped. My take is that if addressing the Freemedia tickets is
distracting a capable and competent volunteer from being useful in
other ways, we should perhaps take a look at how to address that
problem. Because that is an impediment worth removing.