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OSCON Nutshell

Posted by tonya_rae_moore on July 30, 2013 at 6:02 AM PDT

The 15th anniversary of OSCON showed its interest in diversity, and continuing to broaden the market for open source technology. I saw a lot of discussions on how to get people interested, and keep people involved. It was remarkably open to all sorts of ideas on how to keep open source going into the future.

I started with Tim Berglund’s GitHub Power Tools, which was filled with people who had attended his Getting Started With Git talk on Monday. Unfortunately, I missed that one, but was able to mostly follow along. Tim is a great teacher, and even I understood the difference between a fork and a branch by the time I left.

After spending time with GitHub, I went back to my comfort zone with Bringing More Women to Free and Open Source Software by Karen Sandler, who is the Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation. GNOME has an amazing Outreach Program for Women, and is showing measurable success at bringing more women into coding and dev. They have recently brought ten new organizations into OPW, and Karen shared some of their strategies for not only recruiting, but also retaining women in the open source field.
I spent lunch that day at the Women in Open Source Meetup, then went straight into How to Recruit, Hire, and Retain a Diverse Team by Rikki Endsley of USENIX. I’ve always taken for granted the male-dominated field I entered, so a lot of this talk of re-imagining expectations and branding were eye-opening for me. If we’re not seeing what we like, change it!

Thursday was slamming busy! I was once again tuned into Diversity in the Innovation Economy (Laura Weidman Powers from Code 2040, a really cool org focusing on engineering talent in the black and latina/o community) during keynotes, but then began to broaden my knowledge base with “Good Enough” is Good Enough! from Alex Martelli, which was somewhat thick but fascinating, and stepped way outside my comfort zone with Beginning Drupal for Non-Developers by Cassandra Wolff. She was amazing, and was able to break down Drupal in a way my textbooks weren’t. I’ve gone over her slideshow twice since her talk (located here), and am beginning to think I just might get it.

I kept going with Choose Your Own Adventure – Growing Your Career in Open Source by Amye Scavarda and Leslie Hawthorn. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of where my own career could go from here, and what options are available to everyone in terms of establishing goals and personal metrics. And I finally (whew!) wrapped up Thursday with How To Delegate, Like A Boss (slideshow), which I desperately needed. Delegation is a skill I personally lack, and Deb Nicholson reminded me why it’s so important, plus gave me some new tips on how to delegate with grace and authority.

I only managed one session on Friday, but it was a good one. Was It Something I Said? The Art of Giving (and getting) Actionable Critiques was also sorely needed by me, and, from what I could tell, everyone else in the room. Emma Jane Westby reminded us that receiving honest critiques make us better at our jobs, and the ability to give same improves the entire team.

I had a great time at OSCON this year. I learned a bunch, left with even more to think about, and even poked my head into the dev side of things. I was enthralled with how many sessions I attended which were led by women, and, as Karen Sandler said, even had to wait in line for the bathroom, which was a first for both of us!