Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2015/ Wishful Thinking 001: Linux Meetings

Wishful Thinking 001: Linux Meetings

Sometimes there are things that I wish would exist in the world, but which I am unwilling to commit to making happen myself. If you like any of these ideas and would like to make them happen then please do so. I might be willing to contribute, but I offer no promises.

Maybe some of these things already exist. If they do then contact me and I will update these posts to include pointers.

This batch of ideas consists of user groups. Most of them are not my idea.

Newbie Linux Group

Update: Charles McColm is attempting to address this by restarting Ubuntu Hours in Kitchener. If you would like to help please contact him.

New Linux users tend to find KWLUG intimidating, because we do not put much effort into presenting newbie-friendly topics. Presenters are not that interested in these topics, regular attendees are bored by them, and new Linux users remain intimidated, so attendance often suffers.

I am willing to keep pushing KWLUG in more newbie-friendly directions, but I think it is a losing struggle. A separate series of events might be helpful, but would require finding new Linux users to attend and experienced Linux users to facilitate.

One of the ways that KWLUG fails new users (and maybe experienced users) is that it is a lecture-style meeting. A new user group should be more hands-on. Maybe this could take the form of a monthly drop-in. Maybe it could consist of structured monthly tutorials. Maybe the group is not monthly at all; maybe it consists of a series of workshops with specific start and end dates.

I feel that keeping the group friendly and open to new users -- in particular users who are not computer literate -- should be a primary focus. Keeping the group from morphing from a newbie-friendly group to just another techie group will also be a challenge.

I have made a few attempts at addressing the needs of new Linux users in the past:

Project status: nonexistent. I think several other people would like to see this exist, but I do not believe anybody is willing to commit to making it happen.

What I can offer:

Free Software for Women Group

Participants at KWLUG are overwhelmingly male. I am actively distressed by this, but I do not know how to address it effectively or even whether it is a problem to be addressed. I would like women to feel welcome in the free software community.

I worry that KWLUG turns off women in a variety of ways. I do not think the group is overtly sexist, but our meeting space is not that accessible, meetings are in the evening, the topics tend to be technical and nerdy (which can be intimidating for any newcomer) and as mentioned the attendees tend to be overwhelmingly male. I have reason to believe that at least a few of these are factors in making the group feel unwelcome for some women who would otherwise be interested in participating.

Late last year there was some talk of putting together a series of workshops for women on using Ubuntu. Unfortunately that series will not be going forward, but I strongly support the idea and I would like to see it happen, because lots of people -- not just socially maladjusted nerds -- can benefit from the opportunities offered by free software. I know this because I support a few people (women, even) who are not socially maladjusted nerds but use Linux on a daily basis, and seem to benefit from it.

The original proposal was to hold a course that would have a defined start and end date, but other models might work too.

Project status: nonexistent.

What I can offer: