Sunday, August 30, 2009

GCDS Conclusions II.

What has been the impact of the event worldwide?

This question has different answers. I'm going to concentrate today on the GCDS website.

We presented the project to the Call for Host on a public wiki. Usually both boards recieved a .pdf archive. Since the decision to go for one particular location was made by both communities, we though it was really important that most of them has as many information as possible. We added to that wiki information about hotels, the location and many other stuff we worked on during a couple of months to present the best project we could. It was a good decision, I guess. It also reflects clearly what was our compromise then and what we accomplished so everybody can analice it. Some things we said were were going to do weren't done. I'll talk about then in future posts.

Once the project was running, a key thing happened, in my opinion. Both boards agreed on a cool name, Desktop Summit (easy but reflects what was going to happen during those days) and added Gran Canaria in front of it. GNOME and KDE supported our job by letting their brands in a secondary level. Tough decision that had a nice impact locally and openned some doors to the local team. We used it many times to take advantage locally to the support that KDE and GNOME were giving us.

By doing this, we ensured a big impact for Gran Canaria in internet. This island live out of tourism that comes from european countries. Internet is the new channel for this bussiness and this event has a worldwide impact. Most of the free software devs are young people that might want to came back again. This event was a long one and people blog about it a lot, so it is a perfect product to put money on for a touristic place like the Canary Islands.

Of course for the free soft. companies behind the organization this wasn't the objetive but it was a major one for some local public administrations. Adding Gran Canaria to the event's name was a major task because it ensured that the impact in internet the event was going to have was linked to the island. That was our thought then. The result of this strategy is clear. Just look for Gran Canaria in Google in english. The event made the first page (two entries: 4 and 8 right after the event. Now it remains one of them).

This success works both ways. In the following years this should be use by other local teams to get local public administrations involved in the event. How much money do they pay in promotion campaings? Hitting the first page in Google for any localization has a big cost... and we did it.

The election of the tool for the web generated a big disscussion internally. Most of the companies involved in the organization are ruby experts. GNOME didn't have a mature solution and KDE had a registration module made with drupal that they did use in two previous events. This solution didn't have a feature for the event program and speakers. There was a Rails program that did. Finally, with the agreement of Banot (a local company part of the organization) and the Free Software Office of La Laguna University (OSL of ULL), we end up going for the Drupal solution. Both, Banot and the OSL of the ULL did a great job with the web. They updated the previous job done from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 (that was sometimes difficult) and added some new features to the registration module to adapt it to some new requirements for this unusual event.

The website team also integrated the new registration module with Mediawiki, so we could overpass a drupal limitation. It didn't have a wiki that feed our requirements. There are some points that need more improvements but, if other local teams use the job done maybe in a couple of yeras KDE and GNOME can have a well adapted solution. Anyway, each year a nice look to other solutions has to be done, since there are lots of nice projects out there.

<= July hits

The web design was made by GNOME community members and implemented on the website by the local team. All the job done is available for future events through a git.

Defining and publishing the program and the speakers information, done by GNOME, KDE and some local members, was hard. Tons of subevents and talks took place so we had some coordination problems, solved finally. Thanks to every people that helped, specially, Cristo, from Fotón SI, Grupo CPD, for coordinating a great team. The website team also had a key role during the event. I will talk about it in future posts.

<= June 2009

So all this job and a lot more I haven't talk about (getting sponsors on the web, making the sponsorship brochure, etc) made the following numbers possible. Of course the most important part is the community people from GNOME and KDE that visited the web and gave us tons of suggestions. Thanks all.

The web has 5.182 million hits. In July it registered 1.8 millionn hits. What has surprised me the most is the 0.324 million hits from august, due to blogging probably.

August =>
The analysis of the countries wehere the hits come from give us an idea of how spread GNOME and KDE are worldwide. June, the month before the event, is the reference one. August is a singular one and July, the month of the event, is probably determined by the visits done by the atendees and the local press coverage, which was really good. Probably many of the foreign hit comes from blogging right after the event.


To evaluate the impact, you have to have this in mind:
  • KDE had information about the event in his own Akademy web, not much but those hits should be counted. GNOME also put on his wiki the BoF's sessions information during the event.
  • The impact on media that the event has haven't been measured. For example, in the major local newspaper, a press note about the event on december 2008 was the third most read news that day.
  • Pictures related with the event were placed in free services all over internet, not in the official website. There are thousands of pictures.
  • Due to banthwith and space restrictions, it happened the same with videos and slices related with the events. These two contents means lots of hits, as pictures.
  • Mediawiki hits are not counted. That would add several thousands in June/July.
  • The Cabildo of Gran Canaria (the island Gov.) webpage experimented a growth on the hits registered the days before and during the event.
  • Many local organizers added to their webs info about the event, along with many other companies and atendees, and got many hits, specially both Canary Islands colleges.
  • Both GNOME and KDE (and other projects like MAEMO, Freedesktop, GNOME Hispano ) planets has registered many hits related with GCDS posts.
  • Sponsors webpages hits comming from the GCDS webpage haven't been measured. This would be really cool to evaluate the commercial return for them.
As you can see, eventhough there were nobody dedicated to this particular issue because it was not the purpose of the event, the impact is huge...not bad for a bunch of developers, right? ;)

There are tons of things that could be done to increase this number. This is something to disscuss for following events. These numbers give a lot of credit to the idea of co-hosting the event that both boards had, I think. Next time it'll take place a joint event the mark will probably be broken by far. It will be a good sign.

All numbers and graphs has been taken from the official Gran Canaria Desktop Sunnit: GUADEC + Akademy 2009 website. Webalizer was the tool chosen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

GCDS Conclusions I

I've taken some time to write down about the event. This is the first post of a serie about the event I pretend to write. It is a personal view, although I know many of these ideas are shared by other local team members, since we have disscussed them before.

I would like to begin thanking GNOME and KDE communities for the recognition done to the local team during the GNOME assembly and the Akademy closure. It was something unexpected and appreciated by all of us. You made us feel really proud and it gave us a lot of good energy to keep pushing the rest of the event. You have gained a whole bunch of new fans in the Canary Islands.

I'm goping to focus now in some aspects not known by most attendees.

One of the key points of our Call fo Host project was the Local Program in spanish. It was divided in two parts: talks and workshops. The topics were not related with free desktops but with general aspects of free software and other tools. Although it was important it wasn't a critical activity for the event initially. I have to say though that both boards gave it a lot of relevance to it throught he organization process and we always felt really supported by them in this particular aspect. This is something we didn't expected either.

At some point a few weeks before the event we had to face an unexpected change of location. We had to redo the task list and many of them had to get lower relevance. The local program was one of them. We had to face other critical problems first.

Despite of this, nine workshops took place (3-4 hours each) and close to 80 people attended (117 in total but some went to more than one). The workshops where announced several days before the event but you couldn't register on any until the registration day (the very first day). We did this to avoid people that weren't involved in the event from attending.

The talks were also a great success. Some of them reached 50 attendees. The average was between 20 and 30. We had about 20 talks so the total number is a good one. Most of the people interested in the local program were students that are getting into free software but we had also some technicians from local private companies and from public administrations. Most of the talks were given by spanish companies or well recognized free software developers from the Canary Islands.

Rodrigo Trujillo, the Director of the Free Software Office of La Laguna University (Tenerife college) was the Local Program coordinator. He did a great job.

But the local impact goes further. The local team made turns so local people could attend to some of the activities during the event. It was really popular among us the several conversations that took place in the press room the first weekend among key participants, the crossdesktop track and, of course, the keynotes, as expected.

Some of the local team members are experienced technicians, but for half of them (or even more), it was the very first time they participated in a community event. Geting involved with GNOME and KDE volunteers was also appreciated. Many of us have learnt many things from them, they helped us a lot and we got along really well. The general atmosphere in the local team was really good during the event, despite the normal pressure.

Four presidents of Spanish regional free software companies associations attended to the event. One of them is the President of the Spanish national federation of free software companies association, ASOLIF. About 8 local free software companies were involved and several more participated in the local program or other activities. This can give you an idea of the relevance of the event for the spanish free software companies. Igalia, an ASOLIF member, was one of the main sponsors and some representatives from spanish public administrations also attended.

The asociation of Canary Islands free soft companies, ESLIC, ASOLIF and La Laguna University, signed a long term collaboration contract during the event, to make projects together. This is the first time this happens at a national level in Spain, and it took place during the event. In Spain, one of the weak points of the education system is that colleges do not collaborate much with private companies, since they get most of theis funds from other public administrations. We want to open a door to change this by using free software and involving development communities. Let's see how the experience goes.

ASOLIF gave a press conference that had a big impact in national press during the event. Another nice press conference took place with both Canary Island colleges, GNOME Hispano and KDE España Presidents. Local media also covereged it. It was the first time the Presidents from both spanish communities did such a thing together. And both Canary Islands colleges were there not just as witnesses but as real actors, one as free software promoter (La Laguna University) and the other one as main organizer (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria University).

I feel the event has been really important for GULIC, the Canary Islands LUG (one of the oldest in Spain). Many of its members lived again during those days the spirit involved in its foundation (aaaahhh... the old days). It was really cool to see "old guys" working together with local young kids. They celebrated an assembly during the event and they voted a new board with the total support of the group. Nice news for the free soft. movement in the Canary Islands.

In the Canary Islands, as in many other places in the world, there is a big rivalry between Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the two main islands. They claim to be the first on everything. Having both colleges from both islands active collaborating is something we've never imagine it would happened when we designed the event. It came to a point where technicians from both colleges were working together to set the network and the computer labs. The Software Libre Office from La Laguna University sent all the technicians they have (six) to help the technicians from the Free software Office and the system administrators from the ULPGC college.

The Cabildo of Lanzarote, another Canary Island, payed the trip and expenses (thanks Kuko Armas, from Canarytek - Grupo CPD for managing this) of five students in computer science to help us during the event. Along with the rest of the local team, we were capable to have everything ready in ULPGC college in just one week. They were definetly inspired by the event spirit. The messege was clear, if GNOME and KDE can do it, why don't we? So we did and is one of those thing we will be able to tell our grandsons.

José Miguel Santos, the IT chief of ULPGC (Gran Canaria University), has been a key person in general and in this point in particular. I hope this marks the beginning of something that break rules in the Canary Islands. It is also a strong messege to other colleges in Spain. They are meant to collaborate with each other much more than they do now.

But above all these results and some more I will tell in following posts, young local developers got new messeges they sometimes hear but never before experienced. They know now that developing software can be exciting, that they are capable to do it, GNOME and KDE are willing to accept them and real innovation is not a dream for them anymore. It is a reachable goal if you work hard, not because we tell them but because they have seen it, and lived it.

Above 60 people formed the local team during the event (plus GNOME and KDE volunteers, college workers, auditorium and music palace workers, etc). It has been an unforgetable experience for all of us.

Somebody asked me during the event:
  • If you could go back, would you do it again? Absolutely.

It is the general feeling of the local team.

A community event like the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit is the most powerful marketing tool the free software movement have, even more than the product coded itself. I think we still have to learn how to use it more efficiently but it is something that can make a difference if it is done in a compatible way with the traditional goals.

Nothing to attract good customers like showing the kitchen and the chef cooking.

Bringing young developers, even if they are not contributors yet, college students, small free software companies and public administrations representatives to GUADEC and Akademy can feed GNOME and KDE like no other single action. Both communities are mature enough to make steps forward in this direction without losing the esence of what these events are. We have tried to prove it is possible. Of course this was nothing more than a small experiment, but a succesful one, in my opinion, despite all the difficulties we have faced.

Do you agree?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nothing in particular...

I'm sitting in the backyard of my grandfather house, in a little village, by the mountains, in Segovia, Spain. It is called Matabuena. Here it is usually cold except in July and August. Just a few families live here in winter but the place gets alive during summertime, like many little towns all over the world.

There are cows and horses all over the place, kids with bicycles, old people taking long walks and a bar, where old men play cards during the afternoons. It is a totally different place from the Canary Islands or Malaga. I used to come here when I was a kid and it was really cool. It is only 90 minutes away from Madrid, so I guess I will visit this place more often if I finally move to Madrid next year.

I spent a month in Gran Canaria, three weeks to prepare the GCDS and the week of the event, of course. A couple of days after the closure, I went to Tenerife, spent a couple of days with my parents and then I went to La Palma, a little paradise I strongly recommend. La Palma is the place I call home. After a week there, I went back to Tenerife invited to an event. A day after I went to Málaga, spent a week there and began a long trip around Spain.

Madrid, Matabuena, Madrid again, Segovia, Valladolid, Vitoria, Bilbao, Matabuena, Madrid and finally Málaga (tomorrow). A little more than 2500 kms done by car.

Despite the hardworking, I've had some time to do cool things, meeting new and old friends, living some new experiences and spending some time with my family.

It looks like the rest of August I will have time to slow down and finishing some undone tasks, plus preparing the rest of the year's agenda. There are tons of things going on around ASOLIF this year but also we have to focus on closing some open tasks. I guess this one of the hardest thing to do when a new project involving a lot of people begins. You have to make sure some basic taks get done. There is a strong inertia of keep moving, continuosly starting new things, moving forward without closing previous work.

Meanwhile I have updated my laptop from XFCE/KDE 3.5 to KDE 4.2. As expected, some issues has arised, but in general, most of the everyday actions works quiet well. I still haven't had time to push the desktop further. Hopefully these following weeks I will. I'll write a post with my conclusions. Another thing I will do is installing GNOME and use it for specific tasks. I haven't use it for almost a year and I want to experience the improvements.

Another regional free software companies association has been created in Spain with our help. It's called CyLESoL, from Castilla y León. We are working to create one or two more before the end of this year. The plan is to reach 200 free software companies associated to the Federation ASOLIF by the end of the year, that means doubling the number we had by the end of 2008.

Spain is well known because of free software projects related with education. Almost every region in Spain is already deploying, developing or planning to put linux in schools. But lately two different areas are becomming really popular here: 3D and SIG. There is a lot of good energy and bussiness perspectives around these areas.

ASOLIF President is flying this week to Mexico and another member of our board will fly to Republica Dominicana soon. It is the second time that representatives from ASOLIF go to South America. Both of them have been invited to promote companies associations in Latin America and to do some networking.

Latin Amrica have awesome free software projects and developers. We have to figure out how to mix that potencial with our Federation by builing a simbiotic relation, treating each other as equals. We go there with a speech that is far away from usual. We are really excited about the idea of building up trasparent bridges across the Atlantic Sea between small free software companies from both sides. We have a lot to learn from each other. Of course this will take some time, but we are on it.

ASOLIF will celebrate an internal event on Novermer where companies will join to define and write down projects that we will try to acomplish during 2010. It is the first time we do such a thing but people is excited about the idea of meeting each other and seatting around a table to work on free software projects. I hope one or two of them deals with desktops and mobile technologies. I've been working on the event's methodology and it will be finished by the first week of september. It can be a nice experience to export. Let's see. It will be my major task for the following weeks.

Enough for today, right?