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Thursday at OSCON

Posted by sonyabarry on July 20, 2012 at 9:50 AM PDT
Cheryl Miller has been running Greenlight for Girls, an international group promoting girls in technology for the last couple of years. She believes that girls will save the world, and brought a great project to OSCON - a mission to Mars, working with a group of girls aged 11-15. In the Expo area she used a couple of adjoining booth spaces to lead girls in building a martian landscape and then help them program robots to navigate it.

Her goals are to:

1. Promote strong female role models
2. Promote education and knowledge
3. Create tools, path to involvement, and access

Greenlight tries to promote events for girls that are fun and STEM related, and promote great female role models. They run 45 minute workshops sometime 3 in a day at the same location, reaching up to 200 girls.
Her magic recipe:

Start young, make it hands on, make it practical, and have women lead if possible.

Having women lead is a very important step - female teachers can have the same historical hangups that we're trying to overcome and unfortunately promote the divide by avoiding teaching things they are afraid of.

The next talk I attended was Abdel Remani's The Art of Metaprogramming in Java. He kicked off the talk with a quick definition of metadata, and then metaprogramming - programs that write or manipulate other programs or are themselves based on metadata. He did a very code heavy, in-depth talk. I can't really do it justice here, but his slides are great and are available here. This talk was also recorded, so keep an eye out for the video in the next couple of weeks if you're interested

I wrapped up the day with another great talk from Ben and Martijn on how they developed and currently run the London Java Community.

Quick overview of the LJC - 4 years old 2500 members, has spun off a bunch of other groups that concentrate on other technologies (Scala, Clojure, Jboss, etc).

They have an annual open conference, and two events of some kind per week.

What's their recipe for success?

- Make the community accessible
- Have a public communications channel
- FAQ
- Rules of engagement

The big one is setting the tone - lists are heavily moderated and people are warned after one incident of bad behavior and banned after the second.

They also suggest deciding a position on commercial activity on the list and sticking to it - LJC doesn't allow it. Users are inundated already with recruiters and cold calls - keep it off the lists if you can. Finally, they have started two great programs that are open for other JUGs or individuals to join here at Java.net:

Adopt a JSR - Grassroots participation in Java Standards. Developers are the end users of standards, and can participate to make them better.

Adopt OpenJDK -Goals are to lower the barriers to entry and encourage participation in developing the OpenJDK.

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