Hacking at Hopper!
I’m in the airport on my way back from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and it was an incredible experience. This is my second Hopper and this time around, “FOSS” was a hot topic. Overall there was an overall air of excitement about FOSS that was demonstrated at the several panels on FOSS and at the Open Source Day
on Saturday. Open Source Day was a hackathon for about 200 people to work on 10 different projects, mostly with a humanitarian focus. These projects ranged from Google Crisis Response to the Wikimedia Foundation to The Women’s Peer-to-Peer Network.
I was able to bring Elise Duquette and Isabel Velazquesz, two of my students from the Computer Science program at Western New England University. They had a blast!!!
The organizations behind the Open Source Day projects had a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) booth. I got to talk with many cool FOSS folks including Leslie Hawthorne from Red Hat , Sumana Harihareswara from the Wikimedia Foundation, Christie Koehler from Mozilla and Rachel Leventhal from the Women’s Peer-to-Peer Network. I spent many hours at the FOSS booth Wednesday through Friday, talking to students, faculty, FOSS folks, and industry people. The booth had a non-stop stream of people asking about FOSS, and was inundated even during the closing minutes of the booth.
Several interesting things impressed me as I spoke with so many people over the three days:
- The number one question asked was “How do I get started.” This question was asked over and over and over again by people with absolutely no coding background to experienced developers.
- It is very obvious that FOSS is attractive to women and many women were interested in the social good that can be accomplished with FOSS.
- Women seem to come into FOSS with an attitude of “how can I do good with this”? The actual “coolness” of the technology takes a back seat to the goodness that can be accomplished via that technology.
- Socks with the Mozilla Fox logo are an incredible marketing tool. About half the people who visited the booth asked about the socks.
Today during Open Source Day, Joanie Diggs from GNOME Accessibilty graciously set up an environment for 17 newbies to FOSS to hack on GNOME A11y bugs and guided us throught the process. I’m so very proud of the women who jumped in and learned about Linux, VirtualBox, GNOME, Orca, Bugzilla, and Accercisor all at once! You guys are awesome!
We actually triaged a number of Orca-realted bugs and had a great time doing so. Thank you also to Aravind Narayanan from Facebook who helped answer questions and debug the dev environment.