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2011/Notes/Facilitating Intl Collaboration

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#CLS11 - Facilitating International Collaboration session

11:00 Saturday

Etherpad notes: 

Attendees -- add your name here:

  • Michael Downey, OpenMRS, michael at openmrs dot org - @downeym
  • Sumana Harihareswara, Wikimedia Foundation, sumanah @ wikimedia dot org
  • Jacob Redding - Drupal Association - jredding@--asssociation--drupal--org--
  • Jim Eastman - Open Source Bridge - Pure Imagination -
  • Kerry Finsand - Portland Community Manager at Groupon - @grouponpdx
  • Stephen Spector - OpenStack - ; following via notes while in another session
  • Alexandre Lefebvre, OW2 -
  • Koray Löker - Pardus Linux - loker@pardus dot
    • Welcome! (virtually)

Goals, questions, needs, etc.

  • Languages, translation, etc
  • Cultures
  • Time zones
  • Asynchronous vs. synchronous
  • Online vs. offline communication
  • Travel, passports, etc.
  • People with bandwidth & connectivity issues
  • Perceptions of culture and what it means to the org
  • Crowdsourced translation vs. central, quality assurance, etc.
  • In a global project, are we ever allowed to go to sleep?
  • How to do real-time meetings?
  • How to internationalize/localize software?
  • Language-specific sub-communities for your project, how to feel connected

Notes and dialogue

  • Some of us have previous experience dealing with multiple parts of the world, but some do not!
  • Tokenism - i.e., when people say/think: "You are _____ so you should know about ______"
  • What about group meetings?
    • Alternate times each period (week, etc.)
    • IRC logs - should be searchable!
  • Apache rule: "if it didn't happen in email, it didn't happen." Phone & IRC are great, but there's a rule that someone has to mail the list & give it 72 hours before decision is MADE
  • Crisis Commons needs to be transparent. Uses Skype - freely available (as in beer). Invite people to rooms. Can have a public dialog
  • What free alternatives are there to skype? (not much!)
    • The people you want to reach are indeed already there and installing Skype isn't a barrier to entry.
    • Another good thing - they have to add you as a contact, so now you are in each other's contact lists, so it feels like you are approachable.
  • IRC isn't always user-friendly for new or technically-challenged people. Freenode can be embedded in web pages
  • A few people using Google+ Hangout for meetings. Some bandwidth issues for some people, but effective for small groups if they all have the bandwidth & tech capability.
  • Conference calls - quality always stinks :(
    • Hardware/equipment is often expensive
    • Lots of alternatives: Skype, telephone, IRC, H.323 video/audio, Jabber/Asterisk, Adobe Connect ($), etc.
    • People don't mute their mics - but with reminders, this gets better over time
    • Some cultures are less "aggressive" in speaking up and speaking out during meetings
      • Europeans, US, Asia, etc. -- jumping in, respecting agendas.
      • Some people need 5 second blanks to jump in. Literally count (silently) a pause in the discussion!
      • May try asking the silent people for their feedback (via IM back-channel or verbally in the call)
    • Many people have quiet voices!
    • Even when VoIP connection is fine, if there's an imbalance where the bigger team forgets about the small one on the other end of the line
      • have video, or table cards with people's photos
      • idea: make the in-person group split up into small groups to dial in!
        • +1
      • this is especially a problem if there's a cultural barrier where someone doesn't want to say negative things in meetings, bring conflict in
  • Someone always needs to be driving meetings to ensure it's productive, inclusive of everyone.
    • Corp people sometimes get training on running effective meetings in ways that community folks don't!
    • Core contributors might not be best leader for doing "all the leader stuff"
  • Culture... what are good resources to discover good outreach models in specific places/populations?
    • Drupal - deals with every place in the world! And sometimes there is a perception that an org is "coming in from the outside"
    • depends on whether you're established as a brand or coming in brand new
    • is there already a directory/dossier of grassroots community organizing efforts in different geographic locations/populations?
    • better to work with established homegrown local organizations!
    • Recognize (somehow) local/national chapters
    • Wikimedia might be a good role model/
    • Sounds like another good session topic!
  • In-person meetings
    • US sucks for physical in-person meetings!
    • China & Russia - can use an agency
    • Canada is much better in North America
    • Co-location or at least before-after another conference to save money
    • Asia is better for visas. Vietnam & Thailand
    • Poor Australians, whom we forget, can get to Asia reasonably easily
    • What are the goals of the meeting?
    • Who are the intended audience/attendees?
    • Take turns for the location, not to exclude the ones who cannot travel as easily
    • Let the users run meetings, not the central organization
    • Turkey would be an alternative.
  • Re culture with Asia:
    • Language is important! Don't just do it in English!
    • "Our Japanese community really likes to talk in Japanese"
    • Chinese, though, 3 strong -- traditional, simplified, & English. & Drupal's Simplified community run by a dude in Boston. Key: find those people, talk with them.
    • Drupal got Chinese community to collaborate in one place. "we understand there's language barriers, but could we put that aside & choose 1 or 2 languages?" it worked.
  • In South America, Drupal to run a conference in Portugese & Spanish, choosing -- for that conference -- to exclude English.
  • Heartwarming story: communicating complicated concepts across natural languages, with BASIC.
  • Reminder: when speaking English to non-native English speakers, be clear, fewer contractions, fewer collloqualisms & sports analogies
    • Tip: translate them to Google Translate & back to see how they will seem!
    • & idea: if you are communicating with someone in another language, autotranslate & include a note? Idea: include English original, machine translation, & a disclaimer.
    • Wishlist: Google, GMail -- let me translate a whole thread from one language!

Share links to cool and useful tools and sites here:

  • - Time Zone comparison charts - good for meeting planning
  • - phone & skype conference calling, yes, it's free
  • - IRC - OpenMRS uses this as a 24x7 "support" room
  • Seconding this, from Wikimedia.
  • - Partychat - XMPP/Jabber group IM
  • OpenMRS is experimenting with Google+ Hangouts for video meetings - bandwidth challenges can be annoying
  • from IRC: <koray_pardus> floss voip solution for ipv6 ifrastructure... I'll translate the page if anyone is curious about
  • The new Google Groups UI does automatic translation of individual messages
  • 37 signals - campfire
  • bots to import IRC logs into wiki - then it's searchable
  • Skype
  • OpenHatch --
  • Microphones & headsets: what's recommended?
  • I've had good luck with the Everyman model that Skype does (or did) sell online for ca. USD 20. - M. Downey

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