Monday Jun 29, 2009

Tokyo Hackerspace

I've been checking out the Tokyo Hackerspace gmail list for a few weeks. Looks very interesting. The project grew out of some discussions at BarCamp Tokyo a couple of months ago, and I spoke to Karamoon about it at the OpenSolaris community event this weekend. In a world of ever expanding global digital communities, it seems like a nice idea to have a very local a very physical space to hang out in and hack on things that need hacking. Global and digital are fine, but local and physical are needed too. For info, check it out on the wiki.

Tuesday May 26, 2009

BarCamp Tokyo: Fall 2009

The planning for BarCamp Tokyo Fall 2009 is starting now. I'll be on the organizing team again. We have more time. We're going bigger. And better. Should be cool. Check back often. And if you are in Tokyo you can get directly involved. What's cool about BarCamp is that, quite frankly, no one is special. Instead, everyone organizes and everyone presents. Everyone is special, actually. Everyone has something to contribute.

Sunday May 17, 2009

BarCamp Tokyo 051609: Photos

Amazing day at BarCamp Tokyo all day Saturday and well into the evening. I got home totally exhausted. This event was wonderful because it was organized by volunteers, the corporate sponsors were interested in supporting the community, everyone cooperated and participated, the talks were diverse and interesting, the venue was cool, and we filled the place with about 100 people from many international and Japanese communities in Tokyo. It`s all about the community. And the community led in every way. Over time we should continue moving in this direction and mixing among as many communities as possible. Tokyo is a very large hub in the global community, no question about it. More here on BarCamp Tokyo.

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Monday May 11, 2009

11 Sponsors for BarCamp Tokyo

Very cool to see 11 sponsors contributing to BarCamp Tokyo this Saturday ...


Monday May 04, 2009

The Return of the OpenSolaris Facilitators

Just when you thought they died, the Facilitators have made quite a  comeback on OpenSolaris. Go figure. In fact, there is a new Facilitation Project on the site to implement the Facilitator role, which is actually pretty well specified in the OpenSolaris Constitution. I've talked a lot about this role over the years because I've always seen it as an opportunity to implement global community building operations at multiple levels -- engineering, marketing, project management, governance, whatever. I think I've been alone with that thought in the past, though. I guess my timing was off. In fact, just last year I actually argued pretty strongly to cut the damn thing due to lack of interest. And I did. I cut the role from all the drafts of proposed new Constitution. No one argued to save it. No one even blinked.

There has always been confusion about where the Facilitators would come from. In reality, according to the Constitution, the OGB should have simply appointed the Facilitators all along. But that didn't happen. So Facilitators came along naturally based on the genuine needs of some of the more active Community Groups themselves. That's fine, of course, but that organic growth wasn't a comprehensive solution initially or even recently, and that led to communication problems between the OGB and the Community Groups -- most recently and most importantly with the low voter turn out this election and the failure to get enough votes to pass the new Constitution we spent most of last year drafting. Although the proposed new Constitution got a majority of votes from the people who voted, it didn't get a majority of the total votes among the OpenSolaris Membership. That means too many people simply didn't vote. And that's a communications problem that Facilitators can help solve.

Facilitators are basically project managers or community organizers or community managers -- pick your term of preference because they are all the pretty much the same thing. OpenSolaris does not have a single community manager or any single leader, for that matter, so it seems to me that the management-oriented functions are best distributed among the Facilitators because the leadership structure of the community is distributed as well. Facilitators can do more or less for their groups based on interest and need, of course, and they can be engineers or non-engineers. It doesn't matter. But there is a minimum level of governance-oriented communications required so the community can function, and that's specified right in the Constitution. It's all very basic stuff. But it's not enough. Let's think bigger than just implementing one Constitutional role. Let's think about how we are building a global community of communities -- not just one community on opensolairs.org. To me, this is a big opportunity for Facilitators -- to help manage the operations on opensolaris.org and then to help connect those operations to other communities around the world. There is no reason why this can't happen because the people on opensolaris.org are already distributed globally, but we don't really view them as global community builders doing local work. Some do it, sure, and those guys are well known. But I'm talking about building a global community development operation with people whose primary role is to build community. Community Organizers, basically. Or Community Managers, if you like that term better. I've always viewed the Facilitators as the foundation of that idea, and I thought that it was convenient that the seed of the idea was actually specified in the Constitution. Otherwise, the perception is that community building operations just rests with Sun exclusively, and I think that's too narrow a focus if we want to grow more rapidly. The community is already too international for it to be centralized around Sun, and that's pretty easy to see living from where I live. I've talked about this on list many times, but strangely, the idea is generally met with silence. Inside, too. That's why I eventually gave up.

Now, personally, I hate the term "facilitator" almost as much as I hate the term "evangelist" so I hope we rename the role to something more substantive in future versions of the Constitution. The word is weak. And that's part of the problem. People were never really interested in it and didn't see it of value, whereas in reality it has always been a needed role in this community. The truth is that we've always had communications issues in the community around governance -- quite literally from day one -- and those problems have not improved much over the years. Granted, the community doesn't experience its previous level of flame warfare these days, but that doesn't mean that communication has improved. It hasn't. What has improved is that some of the core projects have a much more clear focus now, and those guys are generating real results in their projects at their respective local levels. But overall, communication about governance issues and how the community is organized and where it's going as a community is still a missed opportunity. And if I'm being too critical, fine, then let me put it this way: the awareness of this issue is well below where I feel we should be in 2009. Regardless, I can't find anyone who'd disagree we could improve in this area. The Facilitators project is an excellent first step. We've had difficulty implementing or own community processes, so let's get that down and then grow from there.

Sunday May 03, 2009

Photo Directions: Sun Yoga Office

If you come to Sun`s Yoga office in Tokyo for OpenSolaris or Linux meetings or the upcoming BarCamp event, it`s really hard to get lost now. I updated the directions with new text and photos.

Saturday May 02, 2009

Wanted: T-Shirt Sponsors for BarCamp Tokyo

The planning for BarCamp Tokyo is coming along nicely. I see over 100 people signed up to attend, and there is a lot of buzz about who will present during BarCamp on May 16th. The venue is all set, too. There are six sponsors so far: O'Reilly, Opera Software, Sun Microsystems, Tokyo2Point0, Sapphire Interactive, Fujimamas. All of us organizing BarCamp greatly appreciate the efforts and resources those sponsors are contributing to this community effort. However, there is one last item we need sponsorship for: T-Shirts. This is a big deal. We need a shirt to wear. And we are really looking forward to creating an original BarCamp Tokyo t-shirt that blows people away and makes sponsors proud to be involved. I'm not talking about some half-baked design just to have a shirt. I'm talking about something with some style. Something beautiful. Something everyone wants. Remember, we are building an multi-level international community in Tokyo -- a community of communities that calls Tokyo home but reaches right around the world into well-established and emerging markets and interesting new communities. In other words, it's big. Heck, Tokyo is big enough, but that's not big enough for us. Tokyo = Global.

So, there you have it. There are sponsorship opportunities open for companies to get directly involved in BarCamp Tokyo and contribute to some cool shirts. Interested? Check in with Karamoon (here, here, here). Or leave me a comment here. Or mail me at jimgris at sun dot com.

Tuesday Apr 28, 2009

Tokyo2Point0 Images in Japan Times

So cool to see an article about TokyoPoint0 in the Japan Times today, and the reporter, Alex Martin, used six of my images to help illustrate the story. Even better. Nice to be part of a growing international web community in Tokyo. All of my stuff tagged Tokyo2Point0 tagged here.

Sunday Apr 26, 2009

The Distinction Between Power and Leadership

Interesting talk from Marshall Ganz about building community and distributing leadership. At the 13:10 minute mark of the video he talks about the distinction between power and leadership and how in voluntary associations you can`t rely on political or economic coercion to get people to something. You can`t substitute power for leadership. Leaders of volunteers elicit cooperation by tapping into the shared values of the community, and that`s a much more challenging exercising than dictating orders with threats of force to back you up.

This quote at the 14:15 minute mark sums it nicely: "It`s very easy, if you are in a place where you can fire people if they don`t do what you want, to kid yourself about why people are collaborating and cooperating with you. It`s very easy if you are in a place where you can put people in jail if they don`t do what you want. When you are operating in a voluntary setting you don`t have those options so the burden of leadership is much greater because you have to elicit voluntary collaboration, cooperation, engagement, motivation, commitment, etc. So, in a sense, it`s sort of leadership on its own without the props that are often available to us to exercise authority in organizations."

Friday Apr 17, 2009

Tokyo BarCamp 2009: Date and Venue

Tokyo BarCamp 2009 will be held on May 16 at Sun Microsystems in Yoga. This is very cool. We`ll be taking over the entire 27th floor of the building for an entire day, so we`ll have some stunning views from every conference room looking out over Tokyo. If you are in Tokyo and into open communities and want to make a difference, check out the wiki and come along. Bring your computer. Open your mind. Share your ideas. Participate. And bring a camera, too. Spread the word.

Sunday Apr 12, 2009

Tokyo 2.0: The Sustainable Web: Monday April 13

Looks like an excellent lineup for the Tokyo2Point0 community event tomorrow night in Roppongi. There will be six talks on how the web community in Tokyo contributes to the global environmental effort. Then after those sessions there will be another four jet fast lightning talks about various local web 2.0 projects. It will be a packed night. The six lead talks will be 10 minutes each. The lightning talks will be 5 minutes each. Things will move fast. This will be the second meeting using this new rapid format. It worked very well last month to keep things jumping and to increase participation.

More info at the Tokyo2Point0 event page. Also see Tokyo2Point0 on Facebook. And see Tokyo2Point0 on Twitter. I tag my T2P0 posts and images here: http://blogs.sun.com/jimgris/tags/tokyo2point0.

Friday Apr 10, 2009

BarCamp Tokyo 2009

There is a BarCamp being organized in Tokyo. Cool. I am looking forward to participating. If you are in Tokyo and will be around at the end of May, go to BarCamp Tokyo 2009 and jump in. I have never been to a BarCamp, but I think the Tokyo community will end up running an interesting conference locally that also extends internationally.

Wednesday Apr 01, 2009

Looking for Leaders in all the Wrong Places

Really good article about leadership from David Rothkopf in the Washington Post the other day -- Where Are the Leaders? My favorite quote is this one right here: "Everywhere you look, it seems that the men and women in positions of power are receding. The closer you look, the smaller they get. Once there were titans running the financial and business worlds, lions of the legislature, great statesmen astride the global stage, individuals who weren't just victims of history but who bent it to their wills. Or maybe it's just that people in the rearview mirror appear larger than they really were."

Yes, I do think the rearview mirror distorts our view, but I also think the current crop of leads out there is poor at best. And I disagree with the presupposition in the article (and in most of these articles) that leadership is only for leaders. That`s what keeps us always looking up to the special people for answers. Leadership is not just for leaders. Leadership is for all of us. And just because our so-called leaders turned out to be obviously so small, that doesn`t let all of us off the hook for our own laziness to take responsibility for our own lives. I mean after all, we believed those guys, right?  That part is our problem, not theirs. Don`t look up for leadership. Look in the mirror. Weave that notion into the article as you read it. I think it works.

Thursday Mar 05, 2009

The Stories of Community

Why Stories Matter: The art and craft of social change -- "Learning skills and practices is not like learning a formula; it’s more like learning how to ride a bicycle. You can read 10 books about it or listen to someone lecture about it all day, but how do you really start learning to ride a bicycle? You get on. And you fall. That’s how you learn practices. That’s how you learn organizing." -- Marshall Ganz

Nice article from Marshall Ganz on using the power of story (four specific levels of stories, actually) to engage people and build communities that drive change. Story telling is as old as it gets and remains probably the most effective way to deliver information that resonates. Here`s a little Ganz video, too. Good stuff.

Monday Mar 02, 2009

The "New" Organizers

People have been organizing and building communities forever. But every once and a while a team does it particularly well. The Obama campaign's community effort was an example of that and it's well outline here -- The New Organizers, What's really behind Obama's ground game. What I like about their strategy was that they combined the best of multiple worlds to create something new.

From Zack Exley's post: "The 'New Organizers' have succeeded in building what many netroots-oriented campaigners have been dreaming about for a decade. Other recent attempts have failed because they were either so 'top-down' and/or poorly-managed that they choked volunteer leadership and enthusiasm; or because they were so dogmatically fixated on pure peer-to-peer or 'bottom-up' organizing that they rejected basic management, accountability and planning. The architects and builders of the Obama field campaign, on the other hand, have undogmatically mixed timeless traditions and discipline of good organizing with new technologies of decentralization and self-organization."

That's interesting. You don't often hear community building described that with organizers using the best of both top-down and bottom-up approaches. So, in that sense I agree with the "new" bit, and it's a welcome lesson for all of us work in community-building positions -- any community.

I found that post on the Obama's guys from Barton George -- It takes a Community (and they could use a Marketing Guide) — Mozilla Debut’s theirs -- as he was talking about community development efforts at Mozilla, Ubuntu, Debian, and OpenSUSE, and he points to the new Mozilla community marketing guide (see Patrick Finch). I sent these links to advocacy-discuss on OpenSolaris so we can talk about these issues, too. Teresa started the thread recently in an effort to get some ideas going for how we can do more as a community to organize ourselves. We've had this discussion before on OpenSolaris (many times, actually), but we still have some work to do to really document a substantial guide that we can all get around and drive together. We have some very good bits and pieces spread across the community, but perhaps its time to bring it all together into one document and label it as such?

Monday Feb 23, 2009

Alinsky to Obama: Organize! Organize! Organize!

I`ve been catching up on my Saul Alinsky now that we have a community organizer in the White House. I was never much inspired with Alinksy, although I certainly appreciate his place in American history. When I read his stuff I just feel dirty, sort of like plodding through Eddie Bernays and his propaganda or Machiavelli and his lessons for princes. But all that is reality in power politics, and many of those guys articulate some wonderfully evil and practical tactics to gut a variety of opponents in just about any situation you`d find yourself in. If that`s the sort of thing you want to do, anyway.

It`s interesting, though. We oftentimes hear that you have to fight fire with fire, and that`s probably true in some cases. But what about the exceptions? For instance, I never get that dirty Alinsky feeling all over when reading Ghandi or King, and those guys were certainly grand community organizers fighting bad guys too. In fact, they were probably the two most effective community builders in modern history. I wouldn`t put Alinsky in their league. Ghandi and King inspire. Alinsky manipulates. Ghandi and King transcend and transform. Alinsky fights. Both views are probably necessary at various points in a great struggle, but I prefer to focus a tad more on the positive and not so much on an Al Capone street fight in a dark and dirty Chicago alley. But that`s just me.

Sanford D. Horwitt, an Alinsky biographer, writes nice piece about what the so-called father of community organizing would say to President Obama today (Alinsky would be 100 this year). I guess Obama studied under some of Alinsky`s guys for a bit. So, what`s the fatherly advice on building community? "Barack, remember what got you here ... Keep your eyes on the prize and keep organizing, organizing, organizing!" That`s not surprising. And it`s good advice. But it will be interesting to see if Obama can follow it, if he can keep his obviously well honed community organizing skills up to date from the perspective of living among the power establishment that Alinsky was always fighting. That`s where Obama sits now, after all. Will it work from way up there? To me, this is what makes the Obama presidency fascinating.

Also of note is Obama`s view of Alinsky himself. It`s far more expansive view than the narrow minded Alinsky pitched. Check out The Agitator: Barack Obama's unlikely political education for a lot of Obama`s views of Alinsky. I like this bit right here:

"Alinsky understated the degree to which people's hopes and dreams and their ideals and their values were just as important in organizing as people's self-interest. Sometimes the tendency in community organizing of the sort done by Alinsky was to downplay the power of words and of ideas when in fact ideas and words are pretty powerful. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.' Those are just words. 'I have a dream.' Just words. But they help move things. And I think it was partly that understanding that probably led me to try to do something similar in different arenas." -- Obama, 2007

In other words, community organizing isn`t always about going head to head. It`s not always about cutting people down. It`s not always about taking power away from the powerful (after all, what do you do with the power you get? Will it corrupt you as it did them?). Sometimes community building is about, well, building. It`s about inspiring. Liberating. Leading. And it`s about distributing power, not centralizing it. It goes far beyond words, too.

Sunday Feb 15, 2009

OpenSolaris Community Lending Project on Kiva

It's great to see the OpenSolaris Community Lending Project open on opensolaris.org and on kiva.org. Background on the Kiva project on advocacy-discuss (here, here, here) and also at Simon`s blog (which also talks about an interesting Amazon connection). This is exactly why global communities are valuable: people who are passionate embrace opportunities to solve problems in new ways. If people are empowered and able to connect, they self organize and get things done. They just do it. So, want to help change someone`s life? Just jump right in.

Thursday Jan 29, 2009

Japan Social Media Marketers

I joined the Japan Social Media Marketers community recently. I found these guys via the Tokyo2Point0 community. Lance Shields started the group with these words: "So yet another community was born and it bumbled along with mainly myself posting blog entries and the occasional discussion thread that mainly I responded to myself. It was pretty lonely and it was a lot like every blog I started and stopped over the years. Then a really cool ..." And it goes on from there. The point is Lance stuck it out. Those who build things from scratch often find themselves alone and responding to themselves initially. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world started out that way, right? Anyway, I`ll hang out here for a bit and see what`s up. The Japanese international social media community seems fascinating. Stop by if you are around.

Friday Jan 23, 2009

If I can help ...

To my friends and colleagues caught in the RIF yesterday, please keep in touch and let me know if I can help in any way. At the bottom of this page are all of my contact points and networks, so ping me to connect. Also, it's encouraging to know that many Sun employees are extending offers of support to those impacted. Communities are transcendent. Stay connected so we can help each other. To me, that's the real value of building and contributing to communities.

Sunday Jan 18, 2009

The Art of Community

Jono Bacon at Ubuntu is writing a book on communities -- The Art of Community. I`m looking forward to this book. And I`m glad he`s writing it from his view at Ubuntu. I`m trying to follow Ubuntu more lately. I don`t know too much about the community, but I met some Ubuntu guys in Tokyo a while back and I also met Jono at CommunityOne last year and found him to be a very cool guy.

The reason I want to read this book is to learn more and learn faster. There is so much opportunity here. Back when we launched the OpenSolaris project four years ago I kept saying we should look at other communities and observe how they evolve and how they build and manage themselves through various circumstances. All communities are different and have to manage diverse challenges, but they also share many common elements. I do some reading on this, but where I most closely touch other communities live is in Tokyo with the Linux guys (TLUG) and Web 2.0 guys (Tokyo2Point0) and also with some photography things I do here. Hanging out with these communities has given me a fantastic perspective to juxtapose with OpenSolaris and bring to my activities here. I highly recommend participating in other communities. It doesn`t matter what kind of community, too. The point is to contribute somewhere. That`s where the real lessons are learned. And that`s what makes a community. If you can contribute and earn your own way and gain recognition and trust as a result in some sort of meritocracy, then that`s a little community. Value that. Grow that. Promote that concept as the foundation of the community.

On OpenSolaris we have made a lot of progress in some ways and hundreds of people all over the place are contributing to multiple projects, but in other ways we are still struggling to find our way. This is normal to a certain degree. It`s not a criticism, per say. All projects in all industries are basically learning mechanisms. They start from somewhere and grow. Those that learn, live and grow more. Those that don`t, rot and die. You can`t avoid this. Also, if you are open minded enough to learn, that will help spark your imagination. And that`s far more important than thinking you actually know something or repeating the same thing over and over again. Einstein used to say something like that, and he knew a great deal more than most.

Anyway, what has been most gratifying within the OpenSolaris Community is that the OpenSolaris User Group Community (which we currently call the Advocacy Community) has been growing and learning steadily since Day One. We`ve made mistakes and adjusted along the way. Not only that but the overall personalty of the OSUGs seems clearly defined by global cooperation and openness, not internal conflict and bureaucracy. Have you noticed this too? I`m on all the OSUG lists and I see people talking about technology, doing events, and basically just hanging out and hacking on OpenSolaris. Quite literally, a culture is forming. And it`s spread out among dozens of languages, cultures, and countries. Some people are more active than others, some are more passionate than others, some are more technical than others. But everywhere I look on the OSUG lists I see that everyone is welcome. And the entire thing is just moving along at its own understated pace with relatively few resources and very little structure. I mean, really, we give some web space, a mailing list, and some t-shirts. Not much stuff. And not much process. But more than enough to get started. And it seems that we grow faster as a community when we reduce our processes. Granted, we are still very small (around 5,000 people) within the entire OpenSolaris community (which is way bigger), but revolutions have started with far less. And you have to start somewhere, right? I get this same feeling on some other OpenSolaris projects as well, where people have just been working all along since Day One doing what they can with what they have.

I find this stuff fascinating because the concept of the community is for all of us. You don`t have to have power or money or title to join. You can just show up and participate and contribute and learn. That`s what impresses me about open source communities. Jono`s book should be a very cool contribution to all this. I need the ideas. :) This stuff is an art indeed.

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