Friday, December 28, 2007

Taking the first post a bit ahead...

So we said Hello World ! (in a non programming format of course) and we talked about how exciting the Education Project would be for a place like India. The immediate next question would be (and I think we did think over this a wee bit during "how would you realize that you have been successful in getting some OO.o contributions going through the Education Project ?"

That's a very apt question that deserves answers from various perspectives. From a very base level, if contributions (in form of extensions, documentation, code, localization, internationalization, quality engineering and many others) happen to OO.o from India it would be to a larger or smaller extent because of a combined effort through OO.o Marketing and OO.o Education Project. I had written earlier about the admirably modestly stated intentions that I have for OO.o in India.

Lowering the barrier to contribute takes many forms - at an initial stage it can take the form of low-touch mentorship where potential contributors get shown how to do cool things with the OO.o Project and also get appreciation and recognition when such contributions happen. On the other hand it can also take the form of ensuring that the access to daily builds of OO.o is through some entity that they are familiar with. This may take the form of an university or a LUG. Frankly, I prefer the former over the latter probably because of the potential of an academic institution to be an agent of larger change than a LUG. I see a small example of it here and there are more places that we need to go out and touch. There has to be an organized method of touching these academic insitutes possibly by leveraging "Tech Days" and "Show-n-Tell" sessions.

Building a community is a tougher act. Primarily because it is not a trapeze act and community managers are not in it for the applause. To me it is more of a service that the project demands and the underlying principle of that is doing things in the open. That means discussing strategy, roadmap, goals, targets, PR and a whole lot of other things out there in the open subject to the scrutiny of potential consumers who would accept that the project has honest intentions of building a community. Else whatever we may doing good, may just be considered to be a manifestation of Abilene Paradox.

To actually answer the question of metrics of success, I would perhaps say that once we begin to see [i] contributions to Indic L10n build QE for OO.o [ii] increased uptake of buildbot and test harness resources provided by OO.o [iii] a small rise in the number of useful extensions around OO.o [iv] students taking it upon themselves to organize "show-n-tell" sessions around OO.o in their place of study [v] contribution to documentation (both en_US and Indian languages) can we safely say that we have arrived and won the hearts and minds. Till then we need to keep on doing all the small things that can make this happen and doing them right each time.