I'm sitting here with Amber Graner, Lyz Krumbach, Andrew from the Ubuntu Pennsylvania LoCo, Jimmy from the Florida LoCo, and a few others. We're in a BoF chatting about how LoCo Teams can reach out. I think Amber will be posting notes later.
Amber led another BoF earlier today called "Why Not You?" about trying to get the folks we recruit involved. She was saying how for years people would talk about Linux and give Linux stuff to her husband Pete, but nobody would ever ask if she wanted to get involved. It wasn't until Pete gave her a CD and told her to have at that she started doing anything. One thing mentioned by Daniel Chen was that after an installfest, give everybody a live cd. They've got their system installed, now they can show it off and pass on the live cd to a friend.
I mentioned how after I'd shown Ubuntu to my mom and wow'd her with "it doesn't need it" being my response to her anti-virus question and "you can figure it out" being my response to her "how do I type stuff?" question, she went off and started telling her friends how fast and easy Linux is and how great it is that it doesn't get viruses. Based on that, I think the very first experience someone has is the most important. If they have any trouble at first, they're not going to want to recommend it. That's why I think things like hardware support are so important for working out of the box. When they can plug in their printer and have it work without needing a driver cd or anything, that'll impress them.
Amber said that when she's got someone who's nervous about showing up to a LUG or a LoCo because they don't think they'll fit in, her recommendation is: bring cookies. If you bring cookies, suddenly you're the most important person in the room, everybody wants to talk to you. It becomes an ice breaker to introduce you to the group.
Earlier today, I was in Starbucks with my boyfriend picking up a bunch of coffee for the event. We started chatting with this guy who said he's heard of Linux from his computer-science-professor wife, but don't people have trouble with it because it's not very good or easy? I told him "there are 400 people in the Hendrix Center." "You got 400 people down to Clemson for Linux?" "This is small because it's the first year. Last year in Ohio they had 1200." He was floored. He came over and was looking around, then he found me and said, "I was expecting a bunch of students, but this here is middle America. Who are all these people?" I said, "well, that's a Red Hat table, they sell support for servers. OpenSUSE is like Novell's SUSE and popular on desktops…" "But what does everyone here do?" "There are students, system administrators, developers, everything. That woman over there's a housewife." (That's when I pointed at Amber). He went and fetched a bag with information about SELF because he didn't have time to stay but wanted a way to be able to find people from here and find out about next year's.
Now one thing that impresses me is the sheer number of women here. Like I said in the last paragraph, there are about 400 people here. OLF had 1200. There have to be 3x the number of women here as were at OLF. I asked how they managed this. I was told they didn't consciously try to get female attendees, but they think the fact that they asked a lot of women to speak early on resulted in those women (even the ones who aren't speaking here) promoting it in their arenas. For example, Rikki Kite was asked to speak. Though she's not here, she promoted it. She's on LinuxChix Live, so plenty of women would've seen her blog about it. OLF is having a "Diversity in Open Source Day" on Sunday, so I really hope we'll be seeing more diversity this year.