Candidacy: Germán Póo-Caamaño
I am a contributor since 2000 and I am running for the Foundation Board because I want to help Gnome and its community from a different perspective and bringing an independent voice. I want to see the communication from Foundation Board's to its community improved. I will work to empower contributors, work groups and local communities.
My involvement in Gnome
I have been involved in Gnome since the beginning of the current century, and I have been working with Unix since 1991 and Linux since 1995.
I have attended GUADEC from 2002 to 2008, but also to other Gnome events, such as GUADEC-ES (Hispanic Guadec), Forum do Gnome (Brazil), Gnome Day (Chile), Involucrate (Peru).
When I was young I was coordinator of Spanish translation team and I wrote gnome-nettool. Since then, I helped here and there.
I usually give a hand whenever I am asked for.
Promotion of Gnome and Free Software
I have spent a lot of my spare time promoting Gnome and FLOSS in conferences, I have given more than 60 talks on Gnome and related topics.
I have been involved in local communities since its beginnings, such as Gnome Hispano and Gnome Chile. I founded and organized the biggest Linux1 conference in Chile, but also I organized other events related with Free Software and Gnome.
I have helped and encouraged several developers to get involved in Gnome.
I want to be on the Foundation's board because I want to improve the communication from the board to its community. I think It has improved trough the years, but I am confident it could be better.
I want to help to getting things done as quick as possible whenever its related to conferences, hackfest and events from local communities, in order to improve the use of foundation's budget and communication.
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 ?
2. For outgoing board members: What achievement can you point to during your term that you're proud of, and why?
3. For outgoing board members: What can you point to in your own performance that you are unhappy with? Can you give details?
4. If you are a new candidate: what specific SMART (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_(project_management)) 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 ?
To increase the transparency of processes and information coming from the board. Whenever it were not possible to make them public, at least mention the number of activities being kept private (in order to compare or obtain a ratio of public versus private information).
Keep track of activities related to Gnome funded or not by the Foundation and help people to make them public as soon as they happen. Specially, get and publish reports of activities funded when they take place.
Report the activities done as a board member in a similar fashion that our Executive Director. Probably not as frequent as her, but once every two weeks or at least once a month.
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 been one of the directors of a six-year long project involving 13 Chilean universities, and it requires consensus through communication and trade-offs and a lot of patience.
I want to improve the transparency about the work as board director. I feel that people who have not been involved in board has not a very clear idea about the duties and the common tasks. Probably are too obvious that nobody talks about it, but if people ask what a Executive Director does, why not trying to do the same as a board member? If there is a gap, I want to fill it.
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 can not recall a situation where I had a trouble with individuals in the community (I infer we are talking Gnome's community). I does not mean I will not have it. However, I think in most cases this is a matter of communication.
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 founded the first (and currently the biggest) FLOSS/Linux conference in Chile and I organized the first three events with the same base team, but I had to deal with different kind of moods of our FLOSS local community. If I could change something, I would change the name of the conference.
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?
If there is no feedback (even if requested), I try to figure out by alternative paths if a communication has taken place or if there is any issue involved. It must be done nicely, because there are people and sensibilities involved, but, on the other hand, you want the things done.
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?
Yes, both successfully and unsuccessfully. As I stated before, this is a matter of communication. Let people know what are you doing, what are your timings and what problems are you facing; that helps to keep the situation under control. The problem happens when nobody receive any feedback in a reasonable period of time.
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?
Several questions in one. Yes, at work in projects funded by foreign resources.
When I have been asked for getting funds from sponsors, I have started trying to reduce costs before and maximizing (as much as possible) the budget available and then evaluating possible sponsors according to what is needed.
I have organized several events and I helped to several others and the funding model may change according the place. Getting sponsor will depend of the grade of relationship between organizers, venue and companies.
I do not think I can extrapolate my local experience to North America, Europe, Asia, etc. If it is required I will do my best, but I think is better to work as team between local organizers, Executive Director and the Board of directors.
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?
It will sound naive, but at this moment, I can see as the most difficult part the synchronization for meetings, in particular, phone meetings. I use only cell-phone at home, but I hope I will compensate through VoIP.
12. What are the specific areas of the Foundation's focus and strategy where you think you can contribute as a change agent ?
Communication and transparency. As I said in my statement, I think the communication from board to community has improved over the years. But there is room for improvements. Lastly, our Executive Director have been writing weekly about her work, the board members could do the same (by turns or another method). It is good to see the things are moving forward, not matter if slowly or quickly. Without feedback, it is hard to evaluate it.
As an outsider point of view, I would like to have available for free scrutiny as much information as possible from our Foundation. I have never been a director before, hence I lack of details in this matter (if this is feasible or reasonable). I can contribute filling this gap.
I do think there is privacy involved when some member of the advisory board or external entity ask for it in the middle of a negotiation. But, once it happened, I can work to give a detailed explanation of the process taken and not only the results.
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.
It think something is going on in that direction: giving higher priority to Foundation member's when somebody ask for sponsorship. It is not set in stone, but it helps people to realize that if they deserve to be sponsored, then they contribute enough to be a member.
Also, I am aware there are contributors who do not feel contributing enough or still they does not feel as involved in the community as they expect, specially when they compares themselves against the most vocals or our rock stars. This is specially true in local communities that spread Gnome around their countries but still they feel in the limbo.
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?
I think it is important to empower the marketing team in order to have a consistent way of communication at different levels (user, management, and development).
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?
Increasing our market share to make it relevant. In the mid-term I think is more feasible through Mobile platforms than our desktop. Also, it is relevant to spread through all channels available (in alliance with other projects) the importance of open standards and the role of FLOSS in a society that want to bring equal opportunities to its citizens.
16. Bugzilla is very slow at times. How will you address this infrastructure problem?
This is a technical issue. One of the pending task is upgrading Bugzilla to its version 3.x. It may use mod_perl which can improve the performance in page loads but with a penalty in memory.
In this matter, I think the problem resides on people having enough time to do it than a special machine. In the worst case both, but the former means having a part/full-time sysadmin which is one the issues the board is working on.
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?
As I said at 12: as much as possible. However, having the information available is not enough to be as transparent as I would like. It must be clear, comparable and processable.
18. Are you happy with the Foundation's current budget? If not, how would you change it?
I do know if happy is the right word to express it. But there is room for improvements here, and actions in that direction have been taken and I am happy with that.
To be more precise: Everybody who was sponsored in previous years will agree that if they could buy their ticket in advanced they could do it in a small fraction than they really paid. It could save a lot of money to the Foundation.
And this has been done with the current Guadec, and it will be done with the next events. Scheduling with months of anticipation saves a lot of money, and I think is the right direction.
19. Do you think the GNOME Foundation and the GNOME projects get enough representation at events? If not, how would you fix that?
I am biased, but in those events I have knowledge in SouthAmerica, Gnome has a good representation. Could it be better? for sure. Sometimes we are not enough to attend to several simultaneous events that we are required. But in big places/countries like United States, Europe and even Brazil, there are so many people involved in so many projects, that requires an extra effort to get the attention.
I think we need to approach both kind of places: the ones to conquer (and help to settle down a strong local community, such as Asia, SouthAmerica, Africa) and make a strong representation where there is more competition (NorthAmerica & Europe).
It must be talked with Marketing's people. They are getting very active lastly and I am sure they have something to say.
20. Do you think GNOME has a good relationship with the distributions? If not, how would you change it?
Yes, I do. This is a personal view as an outsider.
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 do think hackfests have proved to be good for projects. My appreciation is hackfests have a target to get the things done (accelerate a project, as it was conceived Guadec once), Guadec it is more social with global interaction, and local events is about branding, spreading Gnome & FLOSS, teaching our technologies and getting new users and contributors.
As far as we grow as a project, we never will have enough events. And instead of asking about new funds (that I am user we will get as soon as the economy gets healthier), I would approach other aspects, such as organizing our events in less expensive places or at least where we can compensate costs.
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 ?
It is a matter of communication and empowering people.
23. What, in your view, are the top 5 requirements (from a strategic perspective) for the GNOME communities world-wide ?
- Empowering local GNOME communities.
- Having a good and consistent marketing plan, encouraging an
- unified message of the project and its role as Free Software.
- Strengthening the working teams
- Good communication.
Having patience to answer (and read) a lot of questions
24. Is there anything else you think is important to tell us but which you feel has not been covered by the previous questions?
If you have reached this question one by one, you are amazing!
Yes, the kernel (1)