[OLPC-Philippines] All-hands online meeting: the backstory
mel at melchua.com
Mon Jun 8 18:54:54 EDT 2009
The beginning of the "perhaps we should think about radical
> The secrecy is unintentional. In my head I thought I posted the
> on the mailing list.
No worries. Might be good to put them up on a wiki somewhere, though.
(Either wiki.laptop.org, wiki.sugarlabs.org, or somewhere else - I would
just copy-pasting the notes there - don't worry about making it
pretty/perfect, we'll take care of that later.)
> One of the reasons that the meeting wasn't highly publicized is that
it could grow too big.
Why is this a problem? It shouldn't be - I'll try to address some of the
concerns I've heard about meeting size, below. In general, if more
participation is a negative, we probably need to fix something. :)
> Since this is going to happen on Skype it will be
Yeah, Skype conversations aren't going to scale terrifically well...
would IRC work? (I know it's not the most common chat client to have
around, but http://mibbit.com is a pretty good online gateway.)
> who will potentially log in at 6am. There are still people on the
mailing list that have different ideas on where the organization is
That's *really* good to keep transparency on, actually. You get multiple
points of view, and clarity on which ones you aren't working with so you
can go your separate ways and not wait on each other. ;)
> we had to answer queries that took us down the rabbit hole
...yeah, I can sympathize with that. The best solution I've found is to
tightly define the meeting scope ("during this meeting, we are hammering
out a mission statement" = by definition, we aren't doing anything else)
and ruthlessly defer things that are off-topic, but have one or two
people offer to stick around after the meeting and take additional
Another solution is to have meetings open to all, but only allow certain
people to speak. (I think IRC has some setting for this - I have never
used it, though.)
> Unfortunately, core group is still in its infancy. Due to each of our
time constraints we won't be ramping up on work until the third week of
June. What we're hoping to get done on the next meeting, like Sandeep
mentioned, is to really hammer down the message and put them in writing
(mission statement, vision, possibly some of these FAQs). Language that
we'll need for the site and SEC filing.
Ok. These are important things - and yes, you should go ahead and make
first versions and then run towards them, without getting blocked by
waiting for a lot of people - at the same time, I want to increase the
chances that what we come up with will be accepted by as many people as
possible as something that they want to go for. Which means, usually,
giving them ownership of it as well, or making them feel like they've
participated (or that if they didn't chime in, it's because they chose
If I don't hear objections before Sunday, I am going to send the meeting
agenda to the mailing list and offer to be on IRC as a backchannel relay
for people who don't have Skype. That way, nobody can say we didn't
Even more important than a mission statement, FAQ, etc. is the actual
non-meta projects (code, deployments, content, etc.) that will be our
purpose to do anyway. Make sure you split your time between the two - I
try to aim to at least match my meta-work-time with on-the-ground-work
time, if that makes sense. We have to lead by example - otherwise we'll
end up with a lot of people doing administration, and nothing to administer.
I think you folks are doing a great job so far.
> The mailing list have become a "catch-all". One of my deliverables is
to get separate blog sites for each of the subgroup that will link to
the main site so people can get updates, sign-up, get materials in their
own respective volunteer group. Marife's going to help me out with this.
I'd actually advise against this, from a community-building perspective.
The olpc-ph list is still pretty low-traffic - it's just that the
traffic we get there is... well, lousy traffic. There aren't a lot of
good email discussions there.
But people are there. So instead of starting separate blogs (or even
separate mailing lists), we should *start* good conversations in the
spaces we already have. When the good conversations are clearly bursting
the mailing list's attention capacity at the seams, or when they're
clearly being hurt by all the lousy conversations, *then* we start new
things - generally, you want to tighten groups before you split them.
I won't stop you from doing it, though. ;) Just saying that from my
experience, separating subgroups prematurely leads to fewer good
participants... only fork something if you have to, and I'm not convince
we have to right now.
And to put my money where my mouth is (and potentially invite a
firestorm of panicked criticism ;) I'll be forwarding this email to the
list on Sunday night* if I don't hear objections before then, to migrate
this discussion there.
*by my count, that's 3 full days from now.
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