Making Community Very Obvious on the Desktop - An Update

This blog post is a follow-up to a session I hosted at UDS-P, the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando. The original post is here.

The main idea of the session and the resulting blueprint was to make discovery of the Ubuntu Consumer Community and the Ubuntu Contributor Community automatic, and not an accident (as it currently is for most people).

I learned this morning that thanks to Michael Hall we are one step closer to bringing community to the #ubuntu desktop. Michael has developed a Unity lens that makes discovery of one's Ubuntu LoCo-team Community easy, and that's an important first step in finding one's Ubuntu Contributor Community.

Thank you Michael!

There is still much work to do to get to my "nirvana" of making the entire Ubuntu Consumer Community obvious and discoverable, but Michaels' first step is an important one.

So, where do we go next? I'm glad you asked!

Here's the obligatory screenshot :)

Why the World Needs an Ubuntu Phone

In case there's any confusion out there about why the Ubuntu Contributor Community is hard at work building a platform for phones (and other non-PC devices), please allow me to "Amplify the Signal" by presenting "Exhibit A":

"Android developer Trevor Eckhart last week released information and started an uproar about a widespread rootkit, called Carrier IQ, that's capable of logging everything you do and comes preinstalled on a ton of smartphones-including various Androids" (Source: Lifehacker)

That's right. The "Robot that pretends to be free" really isn't.

Oh, one more thing: "Carrier IQ, the now infamous “rootkit” or “keylogger”, is not just for Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, and even webOS. In fact, up through and including iOS 5, Apple has included a copy of Carrier IQ on the iPhone.
(Source: "chpwn blog")

Seems that the "Fruit device from Cupertino" humming away in your pocket isn't so sweet/free either ;)

You'll likely recall that at UDS-P, our self-appointed-benevolent-dictator-for-life raised the bar and encouraged us to get Ubuntu running on all form factors.

Smart move.

Steampunk handset image by "urban don", used and modified under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. Source:

The "Ubuntu Pig Thesis", Revised

This blog post is a follow-up to The "Ubuntu Pig Thesis", an article I wrote in August 2010. The "Ubuntu Pig Thesis" hypothesized that the popularity of Ubuntu was waning based on declining Google search query volume. The original article is here and is good background before reading further.


Yes, it's me again. That guy who just won't stop looking into the future and trying to determine when Ubuntu will cross the chasm. Admittedly, in August 2010 it was looking bleak.

At that time our favourite, freedom-respecting, complete operating system with "community-awesomeness" was in clear and present danger of losing mind-share. And, like sharks drawn to blood in the water, the mainstream tech press (the Ubuntu "Non-Consumer" Journalist Community) began their feeding frenzy. Meanwhile we forged on with making Ubuntu even better, growing our local communities and spreading the word wider and farther than ever.

Guess what?

Ubuntu turns the cornerUbuntu turns the corner
It may have worked :)

Just over one year later here we are. Ubuntu is poised to once again rise in popularity and to finally begin that final (and treacherous) journey across the chasm. It appears that the journey officially began on September 2011.

In the legend of the Haemorrhaging Horse "parties have another opportunity to assist their own horse, or hinder others, or both" as it attempts to cross the "Blood Forest" (i.e. the chasm). "Inexperienced clans often fall victim to the diversions of other clans, causing confusion with their horse which leads to its ultimate death."

Expect diversions. Expect turbulence.

Our challenge as an Ubuntu (Marketing) Contributor Community is to therefore to ensure that our horse does not get hurt, diverted, or otherwise hindered as it makes this final sprint to the mainstream.

Before 2011 ends, and before our upcoming 12.04 release, let's put our heads, our hearts, and our voices together as a community and give Ubuntu precise marketing brilliance. Let's make the world notice us. The whole world, including those fine people on the other side of the chasm. Let's "bring free software to the masses."

Are you in?

Oh, one more thing ;)

Ubuntu on the riseUbuntu on the rise

We Ignore At Our Peril

Lots of lively (and civil) discussion on the meme I blogged about yesterday. But...

Anyways, here's what happened while we were "sleeping":

The PC World article cited above is by John E Dunn in London UK.

This is interesting, given John's apparent geographical proximity to Canonical's UK location and also the active Ubuntu UK LoCo Team. Does he reach out and talk to them? Do they reach out and talk to him? Is he a member of any LoCo? My guess is not. And, which Ubuntu {adjective} Community does John belong to?

Pop quiz: Is the meme spreading?


The Haemorrhaging Horse image and story is still here, if you'd like a reminder.

"Head in the sand" image (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Molly Dolkart

Today's Math Lesson: Perception = Reality

Almost everyone reading this post is aware that Ubuntu is the most popular free OS in the world.

Almost everyone not reading this post is aware that Ubuntu is dramatically sliding in popularity.

Pop quiz: Who's right?

So, do we want the 99.9999999...% of the world that does not read Planet Ubuntu to continue to believe that Ubuntu is imploding? Do we want to ride the Haemorrhaging Horse into the chasm?

Or, are we going to do something about it?

Yesterday, I blogged about some simple steps we can take to alter perception..

I warned that unless we take proactive steps to squish the meme, it will spread.

It is spreading. It will hit the mainstream press imminently. This is not a drill.

Ubuntu Contributor Community: What are you doing about it?

Ubuntu LoCo-Team Community: What are you doing about it? (San Francisco, California especially).

Ubuntu Canonical Contributor Community: What are you doing about it? Would you like to release some stats to the mainstream media that show Ubuntu's popularity on the rise?


Horse bad tummy ache.Horse bad tummy ache.


What is Ubuntu Community? What is the Ubuntu Canonical Contributor Community? For a precise definition, please refer to the Ubuntu Community Lexicon depicted here.

This Noise From California Gets Louder Unless *YOU* Stop It

We of course all know the story of the Haemorrhaging Horse.

My horses is bleeding!My horses is bleeding!

So, here's a great recipe for slaughtering horses:

1. Start with a sensational headline:
"Ubuntu savaged by rivals infected with fondleslab fever" (Note the l33t speak techno jargon injected to make the headline seem super-cool.)

2. Add a bogus tagline:
"Help, the penguins are revolting!"

3. Choose a writer (Gavin Clarke in San Francisco, one home of the Ubuntu California LoCo team) that's a member of the Ubuntu Non-Consumer Community (i.e. not an Ubuntu person) and evidently not a member of Ubuntu California.

4. Make a dubious claim:
"The penguins are on the march: they are leaving Mark Shuttleworth's Ubuntu and migrating towards other Linux distros, fresh data suggests."

5. On a popular and widely read website:
the Register

6. Back the claim by citing a kernely web site that doesn't really track the popularity of free (or non-free) operating systems, but claims to:
"Distrowatch's annual web rankings claim Ubuntu's top spot has been snatched by ... during the last 12 months. In the past month alone Ubuntu's been kicked to fourth place by ... and ..., who slid in to take the second and third spots behind ..."

So, where does this leave the 99.999% of us that are actually a part of the Ubuntu consumers|developer|contributor|LoCo-team|core|cct|Canonical|member Community?

We are left with two choices:

1) We ignore it and hope that the noise goes away and that people don't buy the hype.

2) We do something about it.

I vote for #2. Here's what we should do:

a) Don't spread the article. (I didn't link to it. I hope you won't too.)

b) Fix the web browsers in Ubuntu to accurately report user-agent strings with the word "Ubuntu." (Drop the L word while we're at it please. Developers, we need you to help with this one.)

c) Get over to Distrowatch ASAP and register your vote. Tell 500 of your Ubuntu friends to do the same. (Everyone in the community please.)

d) Ubuntu California: Embrace Gavin. Teach him what Ubuntu really is. He works in your city, not in some remote anonymous tube on the interwebs. Have an Ubuntu Hour. Invite him. Throw a party. Invite him. Maybe even buy him a nice computer with Ubuntu pre-loaded on it. Gift wrap it. It's Thanksgiving.

In conclusion, we can let this stuff spread or we can fix it. Let's choose to fix it before the horse is dead. Amplify the signal.


What is Ubuntu Community? What is the Ubuntu Non-Consumer Community? For a precise definition, please refer to the Ubuntu Community Lexicon depicted here.

Ubuntu Community Lexicon, Part 3

This blog post is a follow-up to UDS-P, the Ubuntu Developer Summit and a refinement of the original posting here.

Where is your place in Ubuntu Community?

Are you a developer, a contributor, a member, a consumer, a Canonical employee? All of the above? None of the above?

Depending on where you are on this map, your perspective of Ubuntu is different. You see Ubuntu through a different lens.

From the revised map we can see that:

  1. There is a tiny team near in the "core" called "cct" or the "canonical community team" (Jono blogged about this today),
  2. The circles get progressively more orange as we near the core, implying that the community tuning is tighter (to use a musical analogy)

There is another key process we need to build/optimize:

  1. Developer Onboarding: How do we turn "consumers" into "developers"? Is the path depicted on the map the way it should work? Is there a better, easier, more effective way?

When we speak about community, lets use adjectives. Let's use more than one adjective if one isn't enough. Let's use precise language to help frame the problems we are trying to solve in the Precise cycle.

Please add your thoughts in the comments on how we can improve this map. And, if you know of similar work elsewhere, please let me know.


Ubuntu Community Lexicon, Part 2

This blog post is a follow-up to UDS-P, the Ubuntu Developer Summit.

"Ubuntu Community". What does it mean?

During UDS-P, I asked publicly for a favour: When we speak about community, lets use adjectives. Let's use more than one adjective if one isn't enough. Let's use precise language to help frame the problems we are trying to solve in the Precise cycle.

To that end, and being a visual thinker, I have begun to map out the Ubuntu community as a first step in developing a lexicon. I hope this will help us frame our discussions and develop a common understanding of what our community looks like.

The words in black are the adjectives that help scope out different parts of the community. The words in blue are processes.

From the map we can see that:

  1. There are far more "non-consumers" of Ubuntu than there are "consumers",
  2. Not everyone who consumes Ubuntu contributes to Ubuntu,
  3. There is a small group of "core" "contributors". Some of them work for Canonical. There are many "contributors" in the "core" and outside the "core" that do not.
  4. Not all "consumers" of Ubuntu are part of "loco teams",
  5. Not all people in "loco teams" contribute.
  6. Some Ubuntu Members "consume" only.
  7. LoCo teams currently play a role in onboarding "contributors".

There are two key processes we need to build/optimize:

  1. Contributor Onboarding: How do we turn "consumers" into "contributors"? Though I've shown the process flowing exclusively through LoCo teams, that's likely not the only on-ramp. Consider the case where a "consumer" hits the boundary of "contributor" on their own. Do we have a process for that? Do we need one?
  2. Consumer Onboarding: How do we bring those who don't currently "consume" Ubuntu into one of the inner circles as quickly and as smoothly as possible?

The diagram has (at least) two distinct cultural boundaries. "Non-consumers" are immersed in a different culture (paradigm) than "consumers" (I pay for my software and I get what I get. My software provider has only a passing interest in me and only where it satisfies their business plan.) "Consumers" are immersed in a different culture (paradigm) than "contributors" (Software is done TO us rather than software is done BY us.). We need to think about these boundaries as potential points of friction.

This is just a beginning of what will become a much richer picture and I've only really scratched the surface of what this depicts. Please add your thoughts in the comments on how we can improve this map. And, if you know of similar work elsewhere, please let me know.


Appreciating My Community, With a Few Adjectives

It's the first ever "Community Appreciation Day" in Ubuntu-land.

I am grateful for the Ubuntu global contributor community: the most diverse and friendly community there is in free software.

But to me, community is first and foremost a local construct. I am honoured to be surrounded by all of my friends in Vancouver, BC who make Ubuntu in my city really come alive. Before Ubuntu Vancouver (the group), Ubuntu (the software) in Vancouver was pretty much just a CD with some great software on it carefully organized by nice people far away who I'd be unlikely to meet. Now, Ubuntu is also a local (as-in-neighbourhood), enthusiastic, creative, fun, artistic, inclusive community. And, it's on my street!

I've met most nearly all of my friends in Vancouver through my involvement in Ubuntu community, and as a result I consider it a fundamental part of my existence here. Today, I will be celebrating Community Appreciation Day by reaching out to the Ubuntu Vancouver Community and thanking them in the channel we live in: meatspace.

I encourage you to do the same. Do you know an Ubuntu person in your town that's done something awesome? Reach out to them. Invite them for a Cup of Ubuntu or a drink an Ubuntini. Tell them why they are special and why they matter to Ubuntu.

Holy Chuck!

Woke up this morning and... WOW!! Chuck just endorsed my LoCo! Apparently he's into jam and parties!

I'm not sure what this means yet, but it sure made my day.

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