Flock 2018 is going down in my books as another successful and wonderful Fedora conference! This year Flock to Fedora was held in Dresden, Germany, August 8-11th. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of this community for another year, and to have the chance to see the impact my contributions make. This year, I attended with the determination to interact more with different parts of the community outside of Fedora design. I made it my goal to liaise with people from other teams to hear their experiences, stories, and to learn how Fedora Badges could help improve each initiative and the project as a whole. Overall, I think I was successful in this venture and would like to share some of the experiences I had.
This year started as usual, with a somewhat grueling travel experience, and relief when I arrived to the hotel. I think this years accommodations were one of the best I’ve experienced yet at Flock, and I want to give a big thank you to all the organizers who made it happen. I had the pleasure of meeting and rooming with Aura Lila Gutierrez Tejada, a first time Flock attendee and overall wonderful human being! After settling in, I spent the evening meeting and greeting old friends.
The first day of Flock began with an opening session from Matthew Miller on the State of Fedora and various other leaders. I found this to be informative and gave me some interest in topics I wanted to learn more about during the course of this years Flock. In the middle was the first of many coffee breaks – which I think were so awesome! The coffee machines at the event were primo and the breaks plentiful! I hope the organizers continue to include this in the programming for Flock, because I think they were a great chance to meet so many new people and to catch up with others. The next couple sessions I attended were to provide support and attendance to friends, and to be honest, the technical aspects did go a bit over my head. I took that chance to catch up on some Fedora Badges tickets. That evening I attended the Candy Swap and Karaoke event in the hotel which were a blast, thanks to Justin and Aurelien 🙂
Day two started off with a session by speaker Rebecca Fernandez about The Power of One. The talk centered around how to create the change you want to see and how to find the courage to speak up in the face of conflict. I found this talk to be inspiring for my work with Fedora, and just generally for many aspects of my life. The next session I attended was Impostor Syndrome and Unconscious Bias Training held by Amita, Bee, Jona, & Justin. First they defined Impostor Syndrome and then did a few activities to help the attendees realize that we *all* feel like an impostor at some point. After the activities I had a chance to reflect on how far I have actually come with my self confidence. I am happy and proud to say there are certain obstacles that I have overcome, and others that I will continue to combat.
The Unconscious Bias Training was something I had never experienced or been exposed to before. I have to say it was unexpectedly eye opening and emotional as I did not really know what I was signing up for. According to internetz the idea behind unconscious bias training is “to expose people to their unconscious biases, provide tools to adjust automatic patterns of thinking, and ultimately eliminate discriminatory behaviors.” I left this exercise thinking and feeling a wide range of thoughts and emotions. Mainly, it inspired me to be a better human, friend, family member, contributor, and gave me the urge to take action against the unjust aspects of the world we live in. I wholeheartedly think this is something all people should experience at least once in their lifetime.
After lunch I attended a talk by Abhishek Sharma on Scalable Fedora Design – Embracing Design Systems. Abhishek spoke about scalable design systems as a whole and proposes we standardize a system and apply it to different parts of Fedora. The idea behind a scalable design system is to create a cohesive cross-product/platform with defined standards for design. I think this is a great proposal and I hope to see Abhishek work to implement this idea within Fedora.
Next I went to Matthew Miller’s talk on Discourse, a new platform we are testing to discuss Fedora OS’s and the project as a whole. As this a brand new initiative, I made sure to press to get some badge ideas generated at the end of the session. We have three new badge tickets for Discourse, and I have begun to create designs. You can look forward to trying out this new forum for discussion and earning badges for participating!
The third day, I started out attending a talk that did go quite a bit over my head technically so I took some time to work on badge tickets. Next I attended How to become a Fedora Badges Sysadmin Superstar workshop held by Justin, Miro, Nick, & Sayan. I found this to be informative and I learned quite a bit about the development side of the Badges system. I cut out of the Badges sysadmin workshop a few minutes early to attend the Fedora in Google Summer of Code and Outreachy Project showcase session.
Personally, I think this session was amazing, and I hope that this reoccurs at every Flock if possible. First the mentors spoke about their experiences, and then the interns had a chance to show off the work they did. I was asked to speak briefly about my experience as a former Outreachy intern turned Fedora contributor and maintainer of Fedora Badges design. I believe the reason I am a success story, and am still involved 5 years later, is my amazing mentor Máirín Duffy. I am eternally grateful to Máirín for all of the encouragement and inclusion she has provided me for Fedora and for my life overall, even to this day.
Unfortunately, their was not enough time to really show off everything they had done, and in my opinion the session could have been a bit longer. What I enjoyed the most about this session was seeing the interns spending time together– and the reason why is because when I attended my first Flock right after completing my internship, I felt quite alone and was not sure how I fit in to the community. Seeing them socialize together reminded me of a tiny freshmen class, and I felt happy to see them have a group to belong to and relate with immediately.
After lunch the third day, Miro took the time (thanks!) to teach me exactly how to switch out incorrect art work on the badges site, so hopefully all of the incorrect sized badges will be swapped out in the near future. At that point the jet lag and lack of sleep started to really hit me, so I took a rest to ensure I was not a walking zombie for the rest of the conference. Later that evening I attended the dinner at the Achterbahn/Roller Coaster Restaurant. It had an adorable theme and the food was delicious! Of course the best part was spending time with friends 🙂
The last day of Flock, I started out with my Fedora Badges Design workshop. With about 10 attendees, multiple badge design drafts created, and lots of learning with Inkscape, I would call it a great success. One of the main points I try to emphasize about designing Fedora Badges is anyone can do it because there is a *ton* of artwork already created. With some guidance from a badges design mentor, you too can create badge designs!
After my workshop I attended the lightning talk session— and gave my first ever lightning talk. The title was “Fedora Badges – Micro-brainstorm Session”, which I structured to be more of a conversation. I gave these prompts to the audience and asked them to respond with ideas for new badges:
- What are you personally working on for Fedora that needs more contributions?
- What kind of new initiatives within Fedora need more contributions?
- What parts of Fedora do you think need improvement?
As the audience called things out, I took notes, and am currently working to transcribe these ideas into new tickets on the badges pagure. It was productive and also a fun, interactive experience.
After lunch I attended the Wrap Up/Council/Summary session. I really enjoyed this session because I think it provides some closure to the conference overall. During the share your experiences portion, I was requested to come up and speak (I think I should start to expect this by now 😛 ). And I did find I had some things to share:
- I highlighted some of my favorite moments/things I learned/experience (of which I’ve written about in this post already)
- Overall, I wish there had been more designers present this year
- I was excited to observe that since I first came to Flock 5 years ago, the attendance by women has increased significantly – most likely due to the hard work the Diversity team has put in
Overall, this years Flock to Fedora was one of the best I have attended. I think there are a lot of reasons behind that, but personally, this year I felt the most like I actually belonged to be there. I have been contributing time to Fedora for years now and as a contributor conference- duh! I should be there. It must have been that impostor syndrome creeping in my mind all along, because it has taken a long time for me to actually accept that what I do is truly and definitively valuable to this community– especially as a designer and not a developer. I have overcome various mental obstacles to be able to feel this way, and even to share these thoughts with the world now is an act of courage. And I feel I have found some of that courage through the encouragement, friendship, and acceptance from Fedora as a whole. Thanks to all (organizers, speakers, attendees, contributors worldwide) for another amazing Flock that has revitalized my passion for the Fedora Project and the impact I can make within it and hopefully, the world.