Community Leadership Summit (Portland, OR) Jul 23-24, 2011

Birds of a Feather — Flock Together

Michael Van Riper (Google), Aaron Houston (Adobe/Sun), Bruno Souza (SouJava/Sun), & Steve Chin (JUG/AUG leader–OSCON Java Track Lead)
Rachel Luxemburg and I attended the Community Leadership Conference which takes place the weekend before OSCON.  We saw some of the same familiar faces that we normally see at the January version of this conference in San Francisco — CLS-West. ( “Van” Riper is the organizer for that 1-day event.)  Personally, I owe a lot to the Community Leadership Summit event. It was not too long ago in January 2010 when I attended CLS and discovered that Adobe does indeed “Get Community”  And @CLS-West, that’s where I met my future boss (Rachel).  Now, after a year and half running Adobe’s communities in North America, it was nice to re-connect with some of the Community Managers and Leaders I met while working at Sun Microsystems.So, I will focus on ONE session and mention some folks that I feel are important in the world of community managers.The first day of sessions was probably the most interesting, but the second day was when I met more community leaders that I knew.

Death Star User Groups – Fav CLS11 session:

My favorite session was led by Sun’s former Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps. We we worked in parallel at Sun Microsystems, mainly with the Java and OpenSolaris communities. Simon’s session was aptly named: The DEATH STAR User Group (photo here).  One of the challenges in open source (and in general)  is that some companies DO NOT always focus on the good.  Rather, they have a focus on benefiting shareholders and harming competitors without regard to how their actions might affect the community.  This session focused on how Community Managers need to reconcile at a personal level when being labeled as “evil” and how to act towards the community when conflict arises.  Interesting analogy/takeaway:  Simon proposed that all corporations are like “Reptiles” (A crocodile, was the animal he referenced).  At first this was quite a shocking analogy to me, since I am now working for Adobe. But I know Simon—seen him speak before, there was a method to his brash statement.  He proposed that in a world of shareholders and public companies — Companies are Reptiles because:

#1 — Companies need revenue to survive; so, like  hungary “Crocs”, they will feed (i.e. they have to make a profit for the shareholders or owners)
#2 — Companies, sensing fear or threats, will lash out to protect themselves (i.e. register/buy software patents or engage intellectual property lawsuits, etc)
#3 — If the Company is not hungary nor feels threatened, then IT will do nothing. Like a crocodile sitting on the bank of a river who has already eaten its last victim; sitt’n there watching passers-by—do nothing until it feels threatened or hungary again.

Simon might be a bit cynical, but his analogy was thought provoking!  (Perhaps, a bit disturbing – my fear of large omnivore reptiles….) One thing I quickly realized, while listening to Simon was that there were an awful lot of ex-Sun folks sitting at this session, so it kinda felt like ex-sun therapy.  Another thing I realized was that I kept seeing the same folks at the unconference sessions I was attending.  One of whom, Dan Allen, from Red Hat was in a lot of the same sessions I was in.

***Dan went into MORE detail about CLS Conference than I had time for in this entry. So Check out his blog: ” Learning to lead cats at Community Leadership Summit 2011 ” and the article is worth a read.

Important FOLKS Met while at CLS:

  • Bruno Souza (SouJava Brazil, and a fellow community mgr @Sun; taught me everything I know about community; often wears a Brazilian flag as a cape; you can’t miss him at a conference.)
  • Stephen Chin (A Java User Group Leader but also leading a Flash On Devices User Group; just wrote a new book on mobile app development: “Pro Android Flash“)
  • Gunner Hillert (New Java User Group Manager of Atlanta JUG; also chairing the Atlanta DEVNEXUS conference in Spring 2012)
  • Manfred Moser (Leader of Vancouver Island Java User Group; One of these days, I am going to get Adobe Evangelist Duane Nickull who lives in Vancouver to do a presentation there)
  • Mark Johnson (Leader of the New England Java User Group. Dude! In the five years I worked at Sun, I never met you. I had to come to CLS to finally meet YOU in person. Thanks for all your help through the years!
  • Michael Van Riper – (co-leader of the Silicon Valley Web JUG; now a community manager for developer outreach at Google; Google Technology User Groups founder; co-organizer of the Silicon Valley Code Camp AND the hardest working Community Manager I know! He IS a “Serial Community Organizer“)
  • Marsee Henon/John Jons ( the Community Team at O’Reilly; They have always been good to me and the User Groups I’ve worked with! Good folks to know!)
  • Zohar Babin (former Adobe User Grp Leader of Flashoo Israel; relocated to NYC; Community & Developer relations at Kaltura)

All in All, I enjoyed my time at CLS; I will be at CLS-West come January 2012.  I hope to be back in Portland again next year with Adobe being a sponsor of both CLS & CLS-WEST — and perhaps DO SOME GOOD!… Thanks Jono & the Team!

And Jono Signed my copy of  “the Art of Community” — Coolness!