Brian Cameron


I am Brian Cameron, from Chicago, and I have been serving on the board for 1.5 years. I think that the addition of Stormy to the team has already had significant benefits to the community, and expect the next term to be exciting. With GNOME 3.0 around the corner, there is a lot of work to do.

I have been a part of the GNOME community since January, 2001 working as a desktop software developer for Sun, and have over 17 years of UNIX programming experience.

Recently, I am most involved with getting free multimedia software working on Solaris and the GNOME Display Manager (GDM) - which I have maintained since 2005.

Achievements In The Past Term On The Board

  • A significant amount of work to organize the first GNOME.Asia summit.
  • I have been working closely with Stormy, the Foundation CEO, and have been acting as her manager.
  • Have been responsible for getting the Foundation covered under D&O and General Liability insurance policies.

  • Many tasks relating to the GNOME Marketing improvements over the past term. I frequently highlight the humanitarian and accessibility aspects in marketing discussions since I think it is important to not lose focus on these aspects.
  • Worked with the accessibility community to establish the weekly IRC meetings to improve communication between the a11y community and the larger GNOME community.

Why You Should Vote For Me

Now that I have more experience, I would like to expand my involvement and serve as an officer in my next term, perhaps as secretary or treasurer. I believe that my experience serving the board in the past term will be helpful in the next term. I have the time and a good working relationship with the GNOME and free software communities. I love GNOME, the community, and free software. I also believe that I can help make the GNOME foundation and community successful. I have done work with GNOME accessibility and feel strongly that the community needs to further outreach to meet the free desktop needs for all people, regardless of income, location, gender, or level of ability.

Answers to Questions

1. For outgoing board members: what have been the upsides/good things from your previous stint at the Board which you would like to see carried forward into this term?

Working with the Foundation CEO, Stormy Peters, has been the most exciting development in the past term of the GNOME Foundation. As Stormy learns her way around the GNOME community and the board further adjusts to having more employees, I think there will be a lot of opportunities to get things done in the next term. A lot has been done to develop a stronger Foundation, especially in the areas of marketing and travel planning. We need to continue to develop strong teams of volunteers to help with getting tasks done and getting people more involved with the GNOME community.

2. For outgoing board members: What achievement can you point to during your term that you're proud of, and why?

I am most proud of the work I did to help organize the GNOME.Asia summit. Being involved with making events happen is an important part of what the Foundation does, and I was happy to have the opportunity to help with this in my first term.

3. For outgoing board members: What can you point to in your own performance that you are unhappy with? Can you give details?

I think that the board needs to do more work to make sure that issues and topics are shared in a more transparent and public fashion. I think that in the past term, this was too often neglected. In my next term I would like to play the role as an officer on the board which I think will put me in a position to help make sure this is done. Also, in the past term I have not been making use of my blog very effectively. It is one of my goals to ensure that I blog more frequently and effectively going forward.

4. If you are a new candidate: what specific SMART ( goals would you like to put for yourself? Or, in other words, how would you like to measure yourself and, let others know how you are doing ?

I think the most important goal is to make myself available to get tasks presented to the board completed in a timely fashion, and to take responsibility for enough tasks that my contributions adds value to the process. Goals include:

  • I would like to fill the role of an officer in the next term, perhaps as treasurer or secretary.
  • Continue working in a management capacity with Stormy.
  • Work to improve the transparency of board activities and to help develop a stronger Foundation which provides more significant services to members and the overall GNOME community.
  • Getting the Foundation more focused on process improvement so that we deliver the highest quality desktop with minimal effort.
  • Continue making GNOME events successful.
  • To foster a stronger community of volunteers to help with making GNOME the best desktop for users needs and to better encourage new people to get involved with the community

5. Do you have any experience on management teams or boards at non-profits? If so, can you give an example of a change you affected in that role? If not, what makes you think that you will be a good board member? What single change do you want to affect during your term?

I have served in the past term on the GNOME Foundation board. I think the single-most important change I want to affect in the next term is to revitalize the Foundation by helping to build a stronger marketing community and to enhance what it means to be a part of the Foundation. I frequently brain-storm with Stormy about these topics, and there has already been discussion about these ideas on the marketing-list. However, there is much more to do. Adding additional structure to the Foundation so that it is easier for members to gain recognition for their work, and to develop new opportunities for volunteers to engage in the community.

6. Can you give an example of a time when you had trouble working with individuals in the community in the past? What were the circumstances, what did you do to resolve the situation, were you happy with the outcome?

I find the GNOME community agreeable to work with. Sometimes decisions are a bit more painful to make than I would like, but being persistent helps. I can't think of a particular issue that I had working with any individual in the GNOME community that I would consider troublesome.

7. Can you describe a team project that you successfully started and led? How did you handle it when people thought something should be done a different way?

I act as the team lead for desktop multimedia software on the Sun Desktop team. The significant multimedia improvements in OpenSolaris, compared to Solaris 10, have been done by our team. A lot of people have strong opinions about how multimedia should work, so I often work with people and find compromises. As with any large project, a lot of people are involved with making decisions, so group communication is essential.

8. Can you describe a time when someone promised you they'd do something and they didn't deliver on time? How did you handle it?

It happens all the time. I tend to like to jump in and help get the work done in such situations. It is often easier to just get something done than to bicker about who should do it. In situations where I can not easily help myself, I am usually good about finding someone else who can help.

9. Often life gets in the way of some of our responsibilities. In the past, have you signed up for something and then not had time to do it? How did you handle that situation?

I try to find someone who can step in to help when this sort of situation occurs. I have been the maintainer of GDM since 1995, and have found others to do releases for me when I could not do them myself, for example.

10. One of the board's roles is to interact with the advisory board and the sponsoring companies. Do you have experience giving regular updates to management or outside people? Do you have experience asking for money or sponsors for an event? Can you describe those experiences?

In my past term on the board, I have frequently attended Advisory Board meetings, and have a good working relationship with many people on the current Advisory Board.

11. What part of being a board member do you think will be most difficult for you? How do you plan to compensate for that?

Although I have had some experience in the past term with organizing events, it is something that is new to me. I plan to focus energy on getting more involved with event planning in the next term. Since many events are annual, I think that my experience on the board for the past term will help.

12. What are the specific areas of the Foundation's focus and strategy where you think you can contribute as a change agent ?

I think that developing a stronger marketing and usability communities is a critical area of work right now within the GNOME community. As we approach GNOME 3.0, a lot of our focus and strategy should be based on input from the marketing and usability teams. With new technologies such as clutter, it is important to focus on things like the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) and make sure GNOME has a solid base.

13. Do you think we need to make the being a member of the Foundation feel more valuable, and how do you think we should do that? What would you change about the Foundation to make it more useful to members.

As I mention in my answer to question #5, I think that it is important for the Foundation to explore new ways to provide services and value to Foundation members. The Foundation needs to ensure the community is provided with the tools that people need to further improve the community. For example, marketing materials so that community members can get more directly involved with marketing. Likewise, there are opportunities to develop teams of volunteers to get things done, such as system administration. Developing such teams and providing volunteers with ways to gain recognition in the community are important. Also, we need to improve process and infrastructure so that board activities are done in a transparent fashion so that everybody in the community can participate and help where it is needed.

14. Do you have any plans on how can the board help bring the GNOME platform and desktop in the top of opensource desktop and mobile application development?

To do this, I think it is important to explain how this benefits end users. Free software inherently has numerous benefits, though there are real challenges in explaining these benefits to users. Promoting the humanitarian aspects of free software is an important part of getting the message across. Developing better communication with governments and organizations which can benefit from choosing free software, and who can help contribute (e.g. via grants) is another important part.

15. Many governments offer electronic services to citizens and companies that require the use of non-free software (like IE for web services, or the use of a bundled MS Access runtime database, etc.) My particular peeve is with the Canadian government, which is terrible for this. Do you plan any advocacy for getting governments to accept Gnome (and FOSS in general) users as first-class citizens?

The GNOME Foundation does involve itself in such advocacy, but this is a big problem that requires a significant long-term time investment to resolve. The Foundation should develop stronger ties with organizations that are working to solve this problem already, and help to develop forums in the GNOME community and GNOME local user groups to address such problems.

16. Bugzilla is very slow at times. How will you address this infrastructure problem?

There are currently plans underway to revamp the GNOME bugzilla, and upgrade it to the latest bugzilla release. However, this will take some time to complete.

17. What level of transparency do you believe the board should have in its inner workings regarding the members? How much financial transparency should the foundation have? How much procedural and administrative transparency?

I think most board activities should be fully transparent. There will always be exceptions, such as when the board's legal representation recommends less transparency. However, such exceptions should be rare and infrequent.

18. Are you happy with the Foundation's current budget? If not, how would you change it?

I have always encouraged the board to be frugal. However, the fact that the Foundation has hired a new CEO is a significant new expense that will continue to encourage changes in how things are budgeted. Considering the economy, the Foundation will need to be even more frugal going forward. However, I think it is equally important to explore and develop new ways to fund Foundation activities.

19. Do you think the GNOME Foundation and the GNOME projects get enough representation at events? If not, how would you fix that?

I do not. I believe that when people receive travel subsidies from the Foundation, more of an effort should be made to ensure that those people promote the Foundation and encourage people to get involved, perhaps by donating to the Friends of GNOME program. We should, for example, provide presentation templates and slides that ensure that more promotion of GNOME and the Foundation happens at events. People who receive travel funding should be expected to include such slides in their presentations.

Further, more can be done to ensure that the GNOME project is represented at more types of events. Expanding beyond Linux and technical conferences would be a positive step. For example, GNOME has great accessibility built-in, and the Foundation should ensure that this gets highlighted at events focused on such needs.

20. Do you think GNOME has a good relationship with the distributions? If not, how would you change it?

I think the relationship is good. However, I think there are lots of opportunities for distributions to work more closely together. Many tasks like QA, globalization, documentation, usability studies, etc. are often not done in a coordinated manner. I continue to work to encourage distributions to consider ways to work more closely together. The Foundation, for example, has been currently encouraging distributions to work more closely together on usability studies and marketing as we approach GNOME 3.0.

21. Do you think GNOME has enough events (hackfests, GUADEC and local events)? If not, how would you get funding and volunteers to have more?

I think quality is more important than quality. It is more important for the Foundation to help ensure that such events are relevant to what is going on in the community. As we approach GNOME 3.0 there will be a lot of opportunities to focus on event planning which is tailored to the needs of the new release.

22. It is the nature of Board(s) to be seen by the members as an "overlord" figure for strategy whereas the tactical aspect comes across from a number of voices - do you have any plans to address this situation?

In a free software environment, it is important to have good communication. People from all areas of the community help to develop the overall GNOME strategy and tactics. I think it is the role of the board to empower people throughout the GNOME community to participate in making plans and making things happen.

23. What, in your view, are the top 5 requirements (from a strategic perspective) for the GNOME communities world-wide?

  • To make sure that GNOME communities are getting the word out about the advantages of free software, and the GNOME desktop.
  • To provide forums to help grow stronger GNOME communities.
  • To plan and participate in local events and make sure that GNOME is represented. Providing people in the community to develop face-to-face time is important.
  • To approach local organizations (government, educational, corporate, clubs, etc.) to help develop and promote new opportunities for GNOME and free software.
  • Effective communication skills.

24. Is there anything else you think is important to tell us but which you feel has not been covered by the previous questions?

GNOME rocks!

FoundationBoard/Elections2009/BrianCameron (last edited 2009-05-28 23:49:22 by BrianCameron)