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Re: CeBIT booth

On Wednesday 16 March 2005 22:33, Alexander Schmehl wrote:
> * Andreas Tille <tillea@rki.de> [050316 19:21]:
> > only in German, but we should take this serious.  Perhaps some
> > people have a different kind of humor than we at the Debian
> > booth:
> > http://linuxlog.de/item/cebit2005ernuechterndeeindrueckegrosseerw
> >artungen I certainly know that other opinions exist but this
> > should not happen anyway.
> Guys, could we please postpone that discussion a few days or at
> least till tomorrow evening?
> Those, who were there, are unable to join the discussion and
> comment on that.  Thomas Templin, is sick, 
OK, I'm back on deck, mostly. :)
> Joerg is still on his way home and I need to stay in Hannover till
> tomorrow to arrange the pickup of our hardware.
> We are all exhausted, we all need some rest, and I can barely keep
> my eyes open.

AFAIK for me the posting on linuxlog is an example for a lot of 
frustration. I see it as an example for someone who is very 
interested in Free Software and Debian and who get's very 
dissapointed. It's a matter of high expectations which comes together 
with some sad misunderstanding.

This particular day when Mrs Margolis got outed as a Debian user for 
years in the daily CeBIT Fair Gazette is in very good reminiscence to 
all of us who where at the Debian booth.
And I to my point of view can't remember a situation as it is 
mentioned in this linuxlog article. And I will bet for that Alexander 
and Joerg also hardly can't remember such a situation at that day as  
told in the article.

Telling that all three of us disobeyed this guy is far away from being 
an objective recital of what really happened.

It might be that one of us showed him in  an undiplomatic way that 
Ubuntu is not very well seen but never all of us.

AFAIK the team representing Debian at this years CeBIT was working 
hand in hand very effective. All of us who have ever been on a fair 
like CeBIT know that over the week there are some up and downs in 

But this particular crew was very good in intercepting the other in 
being to rude / gnarling. So if one of us was a bit 
gnarling one of the other guys stood aside to bring us back on the 
floor again.

IMHO what is sad for me is the circumstance that a very good motivated 
friend of Debian was disappointed so much without one of us 
recognising this in that moment.

The question for me is how could we avoid this in the future?
I would suggest to invite Anaxagoras, the original poster of 
disappointment, http://linuxlog.de/user/Anaxagoras, to join us at one 
of our next events promoting Debian. May be he will see it with other 
eyes when he will get the chance to be one of the crew himself. And 
IMHO people who are as motivated as Anaxagoras showed in his article 
should be interesting as new volunteers promoting Debian at fairs and 
shows. At least as some kind of regulative for the 'Old men' who are 
promoting Debian at such events. ;-)

But for this Debian, better a lot of Debian people, have to leave it's 
position of social Darwinism which says that only people who pay all 
the bills by their own are allowed to participate in a booth.
Skolelinux.de does this in an other way. Every cent of donation we 
make at an event we use to pay the bills of our fellows. Which gives 
us the chance to mobilise 20 people for an local event like LinuxTag 
Chemnitz. And Im not talking of Skolelinux Europe nor Debian-Edu nor 
Debian, this is done only by a handful of people from Skolelinux.de. 
We would never be able to occupy only part of this manpower if all of 
us had to pay the bill by their own. 
And we wouldn't had as much fun.

Over the last month I've been talking to a lot of people how we could 
establish a better and more efficient 'user mobilisation'. I think it 
is a topic which has to be focused more than we did in the past.

User mobilisation is a field which don't focus as much on the common 
skills which are needed e.g. for being a good Debian developer. It's 
more a matter of recruiting people with other skills but who will be 
very helpful for promoting free software. Developers not very often 
tend to be the best or good spokesmen / ambassadors of free 
software. ;-)

I think there is a need for this more and more. We can see that the 
growth of free software is not as big than the growth of free 
software protagonists. E.g. if you have a look on the growth of 
'linux user groups' they don't grow as much than we should expect it 
comparing to the growth of free software.

This may become a problem for the future because more and more new 
users of free software don't get involved in the free software 
community. We can see more and more people which don't practise the 
spirit of free software. The meaning of giving and taking to be a 
part of the community get's lost more and more, you may see this in 
the change of behaviour and etiquette on a lot of mailing lists.

There are some fields where we can see how such a user mobilisation 
can be done. E.g. in Germany some Universities established so called 
Erstsemester Tutorien, which may be translated as freshmen 
supervision. Alexander knows what I'm talking about, he is one of the 
people who organise such supervision at University of Frankfurt 
(Main). The object of such supervisions is _not_ to give information 
where to find the library or how to find the administration 
department. The object of freshmen supervision is to animate freshmen 
to start social interacting / community building. 
I've been involved in such programs over quite a decade as a spokesman 
of a bureau student affairs (AStA Sprecher) and in the 
Bundesarbeitskreis Erstsemesterarbeit (federal working pol of 
freshman work, is a poor translation). Evaluating such programs we  
saw that animating social interaction / community building was _very_ 
essential for studying efforts of freshmen.

But supervision needs a lot of manpower. 
Debian will not be able to do this alone. 
So who will be interesting brothers in arms for this?
First of all user mobilisation is not only interesting for Debian. And 
it is a field where the project name itself doesn't matter at all 
'cause it will be helpful for all who are involved in free software. 
So all projects should be interested in such a, let me call it 
meta-project 'user mobilisation'.
There are some people at local Linux User Groups (in Germany), 
Gnome-de, Skolelinux, Net/Free/Open BSD, OpenOffice.org, and even KDE 
who are interested in such a project. None of them denied the need 
for such a project.

Under the aspect of community building we have the biggest Free 
Software event in Europe, LinuxTag Karlsruhe, which will be a very 
good place to become some kind of 'Free Software Woodstock'. This 
Event has just the community spirit and vibration we want new users 
to 'inhale' and to become a part of.

Such an event has to be introduced on a very large scale / on a wide 
spreaded local scale but how could this be done?
In the last years LinuxUser Group (LUG) Chemnitz and LUG Wilhelmshaven 
had their Events at the same weekend, 1st week of march. Last year we 
where able to establish a live video stream between Chemnitz and 
By this I got the idea for a national wide 'BundesLinuxTag'.
- If a (a lot of / every) local LUG will have the chance to get a live 
stream of talks done by well known Free Software protagonists this 
will be very helpful valorizing their local event.
- Local LUG will do their own program as far as their resources long, 
e.g. LUG people may give introducing talks and workshops.
- It will be helpful for the well known protagonists not to have to 
travel long distances. If there is a LUG near to their home.
- It will be very helpful for promoting such a event in a larger 
scale. Much press and media work can be done in one place. Local 
LUG's can use material and have to add their own program. (Kurt 
Pfeiffle has the idea for an on demand daily news gazette. This may 
be an idea for such a nationwide event too)
- For local LUG's this may give the chance to get more people 
enthusiastic about active promotion of free software in their 
region / their LUG.
- Debian would be an interesting partner for such a weekend, as 
assistants for local LUG's. On the other Hand Debian may use such an 
event for mobilising manpower for it's own needs. 

So there are three main targets of such a weekend:
- spreading free software information nation wide on a regional base
- starting a campaign for community building
- being an introducement for _the_ European Free Software Event
  (where we will have the chance fishing for active supporters)

May be it is an idea to discuss this in a birds of the same feather 
meeting at LinuxTag this year. At least we should offer this 
discussion for those who are interested.


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