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ubuntu-community

On Building Intentional Culture, With Words

Our languages and the words they contain help define us.

You don't have to believe me. You can go and convince yourself first. Here's an excerpt:

New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world...

  • Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue.
  • Some indigenous tribes say north, south, east and west, rather than left and right, and as a consequence have great spatial orientation.
  • The Piraha, whose language eschews number words in favor of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantities.
  • In one study, Spanish and Japanese speakers couldn't remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. Why? In Spanish and Japanese, the agent of causality is dropped: "The vase broke itself," rather than "John broke the vase."

So where are you going with this, Randall?...

I blogged about my strong distaste for the term "user" a few days back, and it generated a lively discussion (see the comments). It also triggered some further thinking and I have now realized that my initial post was just the tip of a large iceberg. Please allow me to describe what lurks beneath the water line.

We're building something new with Ubuntu. We're building a participatory culture adjacent to a place (the computer industry) that has been the antithesis of participatory. Think parched desert: a place where inclusiveness is forbidden. If that industry were to include all humans, it would break their business model. You see, the old model requires that more than 90% of humans be "obedient subjects" and "consumers". I call this the "Dark Ages of Computing".

Remember Mark's question and answer session this week at the Ubuntu Online Summit (UOS)? He opened with and emphasized these points:

  • We are a project for human beings, and that's a strong part of our ethos.
  • Ubuntu benefits our communities.
  • People care about helping humanity get over its challenges and griefs.

That's exactly what I admire about Ubuntu, and about Mark.

Yet, as we try to build this new world some of us are bringing elements of a language that forbids, or at least inhibits the realization of a dream. Words leak in.

So you might be asking, "What's to be done?" Here is my proposal:

The above diagram is meant to represent a flow (or transition) from the old to the new. See that block in the middle? That's a wall, a firewall to be precise. Imagine the language (words) from the "Dark Ages of Computing" (the cloud on the left) trying to get to the world we are trying to build, with Ubuntu (the cloud on the right). Think of the wall as the thing that keeps the language of the past firmly in the past. Words that at best are no longer useful, and at worst no longer helpful are blocked by default. Think of that wall as one that can help you select words that help build Ubuntu.

So, what words are part of the language of the past? here is my initial list:

  • user
  • consumer
  • permission
  • unapproved
  • linux (in certain contexts)

(Dont worry, I have many, many more... I'll share them soon. I may even pick on a few of them.)

As you talk about or write about Ubuntu, I hope that you will always remember my drawing. Are the words that you are using today helping or hurting the world that Ubuntu is trying to build?

Did you come from the cloud on the left? Don't feel bad. Many of us did.

But please, for the love of humanity, it's time to leave that world and those words behind. We are not there any more. Let's let words from the dark ages remain there.

Ubuntu Online Summit: Solving Big (Data) Problems With Juju

Amir Sanjar, our resident and charming big data guy, spoke to all humans today in his "Big Data and Juju" session.

Highlights? Why not?

  • We're generating data with everything we do.
  • The landscape of solutions is complex and becoming more so.
  • Juju vastly simplifies the deployment of big data solutions.
  • Juju extends the sidewalk of solutions, i.e. you can connect other (non-big-data) charms to your solution.
  • Amir presented a big data Charms status report and roadmap.
  • We need more help, especially charmers, to create solutions for missing pieces of the big data puzzle

Would you like to help solve big (data) problems? The team would love to hear from you.

You can reach out to Amir on his Launchpad page, https://launchpad.net/~asanjar or join the discussion on the Juju mailing list.

You can also contact me. (Consider me your concierge.) I can be reached at randall AT ubuntu DOT com

Check out the whole session here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZJMJ931XHAhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZJMJ931XHA

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It's All In The Name

Back in the dark days of computing (pre Ubuntu), people were referred to as "users" to essentially frame the industry into a small group that was in a position of power and privilege and one that was not. The vast numbers of unprivileged people could only consume or use. Great for industry and profit, but poor for creating an inclusive society.

I found this photo on a photo sharing service and it is evidently a photo of a user.

Note that when we call people that enjoy Ubuntu's products users, we run the risk of putting them in the same negative box. Why do some people insist on calling people that enjoy computers and technology "users"?

I'm sorry but people who enjoy and run Ubuntu are not "users". We're past that. It's over. Did you come from a proprietary technology company that called people users? You're past that. It's over.

Can we as a community agree to drop the term? It's predatory.

Here are some suggestions for replacement words:

  • Human
  • Person
  • Man
  • Woman
  • Fan

Try something like this:
"A person that enjoys Ubuntu."
"A human that runs Ubuntu."
"A fan of Ubuntu."

Thanks!

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Image by nosferatu9000
https://www.flickr.com/photos/33481342@N03/

Ubuntu Online Summit: Mark's Question & Answer Session

Mark Shuttleworth, our founder, spoke to all humans today in his Q&A Session.

Highlights? You betcha!

Ubuntu for Humans

  • Mark talked about our project's "big rocks".
  • We are a project for human beings, and that's a strong part of our ethos.
  • Ubuntu benefits our communities.
  • People care about helping humanity get over its challenges and griefs.
  • Exciting times are ahead!
  • We have a phone, the images are coming along beautifully, we're getting solid feedback, release-to-manufacturing (RTM) is on track, and the team is working furiously
  • This place (Ubuntu) will be the only place in the world where you can watch a phone being created in front of your eyes
  • Our scope challenge is underway
  • We want to make people feel that the Ubuntu phone is the fastest path to the net
  • Scopes are the way to do that! Please take a look, and help.
  • Scopes are lighter than a traditional application

***TEASER*** We will shortly announce a developer program in partnership with one of the world's biggest telecommunications companies!

  • Being an independent phone community is valuable
  • Ubuntu on the phone is a platform that can deliver a new kind of trust
  • Well done to all that have helped!!

On the convergence plan:

  • The official "desktop next" is in Ubuntu 14.10, it's super early though.
  • We are taking the experience of the phone and making it a great desktop experience.
  • Think of it a a graceful transition, not a phone on a desktop.
  • Next-generation silicon (CPU's) that are coming will be able to drive quad HD displays.
  • If you care about the desktop, and you want to work on a professional development project, check out "desktop next".
  • Mir support has landed in GTK, patches welcome.
  • Our goal is to have Unity8 as an option (not default) for 16.04LTS

Ubuntu for the Cloud

  • Ubuntu is now on the Google Compute Engine. Check it out.
  • Google has a good relationship with Ubuntu.
  • Let's try to convince companies to continue to grow the volume of code avalable to innovators all over the world.
  • We should be proud that we have catalyzed this change.
  • Do you know of other clouds we should be on? Please let us know.
  • Getting Ubuntu on clouds is non-trivial, but when we get it there it's to a high standard, and optimized.
  • Looking to build your own cloud? Try the OpenStack installer
  • It uses Juju and a cloud-friendly GUI.
  • Get a couple of (or 5) machines, or a single beefy one and try it.
  • Canonical has Autopilot for OpenStack, for our customers.
  • MAAS 1.7 will be SRU'd into 14.04 and 14.10. Feedback is welcome.
  • MAAS will allow you to install all kinds of OS'es onto clouds, not just Ubuntu.
  • Ubuntu has set the pace for the industry with MAAS, and has made it "cool" to do provisioning.
  • Docker is everywhere. What are your ideas to support it better?
  • We will bring all the major Docker orchestration systems to Juju (kubernetes, etc.)
  • We have a Reddit Charm! You can now fork Reddit ;) (Hush hush! Please don't tell anyone.)
  • LXD (lex-dee) is a server (daemon) that we released at ODS. Think of it as a container-based hypervisor

Let's end with a question from Mark for every human:

What do you think it would take for us to make a really cool Ubuntu for the "Internet of Things"?

Send your best suggestions to mark AT ubuntu DOT com

Check out the whole session here:

Mark's Q&A here - http://summit.ubuntu.com/uos-1411/meeting/22395/mark-shuttleworth-qa/Mark's Q&A here - http://summit.ubuntu.com/uos-1411/meeting/22395/mark-shuttleworth-qa/

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Ubuntu Online Summit Begins!

http://summit.ubuntu.com/uos-1411/http://summit.ubuntu.com/uos-1411/

Visualizing "Clouds" More Crisply: No More Gobbledygook

Before I start, let's recap two words that you may have heard recently if you've been around Ubuntu people. I promise this will be the only jargon in this article.

Juju - a tool that makes it easy to get your solution onto a "cloud"
Charm - a description of that solution, shown as a pretty icon, like this:

Ok, with that out of the way...

I've posted a few times recently about Juju which is in my (slightly biased) opinion, the best and easiest way to get tools that solve real problems deployed onto a "cloud".

But what is a cloud? There are too many definitions out there that unfortunately don't make it any easier for people to visualize what a "cloud" is. And, as if to add insult to injury, a bunch of buzzwords and "thickets of gobbledygook "(1) cloud our understanding of "clouds".

Juju simplifies this immensely. But, what if, as a pure thought experiment, we made the canvas that is presented in Juju and that is designed to show the substrate (or fabric) that the "cloud" is built upon a little more representative of the physical reality? In reality, "clouds" are just collections of computers (and things that connect to computers). Maybe we should attempt to depict some of this.

Admittedly, I'm no 3-D artist, but I love to visualize and do mock-ups. In the spirit of giving humans that are building solutions with Juju a more representative view of their canvas what if we displayed something that looked a little more like this?

In this depiction, computers (and computing resources generally) could be represented roughly to scale as 3-D boxes. Height can represent how powerful they are. area might represent how much they cost, or some other measurement. "Big" resources are easily discernible from "small" resources.

Imagine dragging your Juju Charm onto this canvas and then resizing the Charm to cover the resources that you want it to consume. Grab more "small" resources, or grab some of the "big" ones. (In other words, scale out, or scale up.)

What do you think? Does this idea have merit? Does this make is easier for humans to visualize and to understand the "cloud"?

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(1) I'll write more on "thickets of gobbledygook" later, but now you know my term for it. And, if you're creating these thickets, please cut it out.

Image by author. Please help him improve it ;)

Juju is... Music!

Many of you who follow my blog have heard me say "Ubuntu is not just software."

Well, by extension, neither is Juju. Juju is part of Ubuntu and like its parent, it's more than bits and bytes.

Today I learned that Juju is not only the coolest and most effortless way to solve problems using private, public, or community clouds, but is also a very talented musician.

Please take a look at this spine-tingling performance by Mojo Juju entitled "I Put A Spell On You". It's guaranted to get you moving on this Monday...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK6P67eKOMY&feature=youtu.be&t=1m7shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK6P67eKOMY&feature=youtu.be&t=1m7s

Thanks Mojo for an inspiring and magical performance!

And what about you? If I were to ask you to complete this sentence, what would you say?
"Juju is ________"

Remembering Aaron and Meeting Personal Heroes

I didn't know Aaron personally. I'm probably similar to you in that regard. Sure, I was peripherally aware of his work and achievements in spreading freedom the way he knew best. But he really didn't come into sharp focus for me until he died.

That's sad. In retrospect, I really wish I could have been more present and that I had made a point to meet him. In those days, I doubt that I would have had much to offer by way of assistance, but I wish I could have at least said "thank you", and offered words of encouragement.

I don't want this post to be all melancholy. So, here's the positive part. Aaron's early departure from this earth catalyzed me to learn about and to reflect on his work and the work that still needs to be done. It helped me to add a new verse to my personal philosophy. It goes something like this:

"Meet people that are doing great and selfless things for humanity while we still can. Help them where possible. Thank them for what they do. And, if we can't meet them before they depart, honour them and spread the word about them."

Last night, I and several hundred others had the opportunity to honour Aaron at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. We watched Aaron's story and heard from people who knew him. We had a chance to thank him and I am truly thankful that we had this chance.

Come to think of it, Aaron not only raised my awareness about the ongoing battle for freedom, but he also gave me the chance to meet like-minded people and to share stories with people who are working to make the world a better place. (Unsurprisingly, several of the folks I met were doing so with Ubuntu.)

And also quite accidentally, Aaron introduced me to another one of my personal heroes, Ted Nelson .Ted, the inventor of hypertext, the creator of the underlying concepts that became the world-wide web. Ted, we met ever so briefly last night, and unfortunately you had to run off before I could give you a proper thank you. But, I'm happy we at least had the chance to meet and I hope we'll meet again soon.

Aaron, thank you for all you have done. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to make some new Ubuntu friends, and to meet another of my personal heroes.

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Who are your personal heroes? Have you met them? I hope you will.

I hope you'll watch The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXr-2hwTk58http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXr-2hwTk58

Make Software? Come to San Francisco and Check Out Ubuntu on Power!

Do you make software that solves real-world problems? Do you want your software to be instantly available to everyone that's building cloud solutions? Did you know that Ubuntu powers most of the cloud?

Some fun Ubuntu folks will be with their IBM and OpenPower friends just south of San Francisco, California next Wednesday (Nov. 5th, 2014) to talk about the future: Ubuntu on Power.

The event is free, but you'll have to register in advance.

Click the power button to get more information and to register!

Cheers,
Randall
Ubuntu Community Manager
Ubuntu on *Power*

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Questions? randall AT ubuntu DOT com

Why Smart Phones Aren't - Reason #4

I used to believe that computer mediated communication made the world a better place...

Have you ever noticed a couple sitting together not being "together"? Or perhaps a group of friends eating in a restaurant or enjoying drinks in a bar, but largely not interacting with one another? In these situations, the people that seem to be the centre of the event are the people that aren't there.

"Smart" phones, you make me ill. You are incentivizing human disconnection. You are weakening the bonds between people that inhabit the same space.

You are the ultimate expression of design fail.

You see, computer mediated communications should not have a distance bias. Why only mediate conversation between people that are challenged by distance separation? By doing so, you are creating, or at least accelerating, a culture of "not being there."

You see, the most important aspect of being beside another human being is enjoying that person in the moment, with full attention. Phone, you are just too dumb to realize it. Or are you simple conveniently ignoring it for the sake of a sociopathic business model?

Guess what? You know the two people in the photo are beside each other. You also know that they are in each other's contact list. You may even know that they're on a beach. It's a romantic place. Put two and two together, please.

Figure it out, phone! For the sake of humanity, this is not the 80's. It's time to wise up. Prince Ea and I and our posse are on to you...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ

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Our best chance at a phone that repects humanity is here:
http://www.ubuntu.com/phone

More reasons "smart" phones aren't are here:
http://blog.josephliau.com/documenting-the-death-of-the-dumb-telephone-p...
http://randall.executiv.es/dumbphones03
http://blog.josephliau.com/documenting-the-death-of-the-dumb-telephone-p...
http://blog.josephliau.com/documenting-the-death-of-the-dumb-telephone-p...
http://randall.executiv.es/dumbphones02
http://randall.executiv.es/dumbphones01

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image by Leo Reynolds
https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/

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