Community Leadership Summit

I'm heading to the Community Leadership Summit this weekend in San Jose, California. Jono Bacon's gig. I'm looking forward to meeting many others who build software communities around the world. I know and respect many of the people planning to attend, so it should be great fun. And it should be a hugely valuable experience, too.



I have an agenda in mind for my time. It's only a weekend, so I need to probe some issues as deeply as I can. I'd especially like to explore how software engineering and user communities are built across language and cultural barriers. That's the biggest deal for me since I live the issue every day and I believe there are big opportunities involved.

Other stuff: How/why do some communities seem to emerge organically (do they really?), while others are built using significant resources and sometimes face big challenges in the process. How do you manage around community dependence issues while investing resources? I know it's not popular to discuss, but I'll be asking people about competitive challenges they face while building communities. Over the years, many have told me that communities shouldn't be competitive (companies compete and communities cooperate, right?), but I've come to question and largely reject that line. I can point to many cases where it's absolutely true, but I also have lots of painful experience demonstrating that it's a lot of BS (I think it depends greatly on geography, culture, placement in the community, and politics).

More: Where is the line distinguishing building from natural evolution? And who defines the difference? On governance issues: Do you start out building with governance in place or let it emerge naturally over time? Do you build a top-down governing system, or let structures bubble up from the bottom when (and if) they are needed? And how do you resolve governance vs development methodologies? How do you measure growth or quality or whatever else you're building? What are the distinctions between building community from the platform of a major corporation vs building community while actually living out in the community itself? How are community development and engineering operations implemented differently around the world? How is community actually defined differently in various regions? Those are some of the issues I'll be poking.

And finally, I'd really love to see how people feel about the issue of "leadership" in communities. That's the name of the conference, after all, and it's an issue we've wrestled with on OpenSolaris forever. My opinion on leadership has evolved greatly over time, but I'm clearly moving in a specific direction lately and feel much more comfortable asserting my view on leadership.
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