GHC09: Open Source Community Development: A Moderator's Perspective

I was so nervous yesterday hosting my first panel at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. I had put off writing my introduction until arriving at the conference, thinking I'd have plenty of time to do it... not realizing that I would be reconnecting with friends that have moved across country or students I met last year or just this year. Time, suddenly, didn't exist, so I ended up skipping the plenary session on path to executive leadership so I could take the introducion I'd written in my head & put it on paper to make sure I wasn't missing anything nor was my introduction going to take up too  much time.  Sure enough I had to do a couple of edits to get it right, so while I was sorry to miss out on that session, I'm glad I took the time to do so.

When I got to the room, it was a bigger space than I expected, but at least everyone could have a seat :)  My OpenSolaris laptop worked right away with the projector, which made me very happy.  The technician setting up the room recommended I set my computer so the screen saver wouldn't come on. I thought I'd done that before... so I didn't bother checking. Stupid hubris.

I only had two slides - which are on the GHC wiki - the first with the name of the talk and the second had the names of each panelist, in the order she was sitting, with their affiliation. After the session finished, I got a lot of positive feedback on that - it's good to know I'm not the only person that can't keep track of all of the panelists (particularly when we all seem to have last minute changes in our panel lineups).

As I started introducing each of the panelists, I had all of the advice on running a panel running through my head - terrified that I'd screw something up: mispronounce a name or affiliation, stutter or knock my paper list of intros on the floor.  Fortunately, none of those things happened in the first few minutes :)  I did step on Stormy's self-introduction a bit, but she forgave me and made sure she was heard.

One piece of advice I had read, which was really counterintuitive for me given my melodrama training at the Gaslighter Theatre, was to not look at your panelists when they are talking. In melodrama, you say your lines straight to the audience, then turn and face the next speaker. This draws the audience's eyes to the speaker.  But, I found as I did this, just as the advice said would happen, the panelists looked at me instead of at the audience. As rude as it felt, I had to force myself to turn my gaze back to the audience. It worked!

I was so happy with how each woman on the panel had prepared their introduction and had thought about the questions from our proposal, though I was surprised when they didn't naturally follow-on to each other at first. I think this was because I said I didn't want more than 2 women answering any one question, so we could keep the flow going. :-)

About ten minutes into the talk... my screen saver started to kick in. \*d'oh\* I wiggled the mouse. Something happened and the display "flipped out" - it started flashing and was filled with horizontal bars.  I couldn't get the console to respond, so just rebooted... which took us to a brief OpenSolaris advertisement as the system happily restarted. Thank goodness for the fast boot, though!

I did finally stop shaking about a third of the way through the panel and was able to replace my forced smile with a natural one, as I could finally relax and enjoy the panelists.

I was very impressed with what some of the other communities have done to encourage women to join their community and that got me thinking about doing something for OpenSolaris. We're such a big thing - with many sub communities - any suggestions for doing this?

I was so happy with all of my panelists: Stormy Peters, Kathryn Vandiver, Sandy Payette, Teresa Giacomini and Terri Oda! Thank you, ladies!

Comments:

Your xscreensaver problem was probably bug# 6864315

Posted by Darren Moffat on October 02, 2009 at 09:54 PM PDT #

Sounds like it! Thanks, Darren! I've added myself to the bug.

Posted by Valerie Fenwick on October 06, 2009 at 10:31 AM PDT #

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Valerie's former weblog. The new one can be found at http://bubbva.blogspot.com/

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