Sharan Foga, Apache Software Foundation (ASF)’s Vice President of Apache Community Development, will lead the Community Track at ApacheCon North America, 9-12 September, in Las Vegas. In our Q&A below, Sharan highlights what to expect from the Community Track and her role at Apache. You can listen to Sharan’s Apache Feathercast podcasts here: Part 1: ApacheCon North America: and Part 2: ApacheCon Europe.
Q: Introduce yourself. What are you working on at ApacheCon this year?
A: I've been involved with Apache for over a decade. I’m the Chair of the Community Development community. I help organize ApacheCon tracks and content. Apache is built on communities, and the ApacheCon Community Track enables us to make sure that we encourage the health, diversity, and longevity of all our communities. This year we'll have 24 talks in just over three days at ApacheCon North America.
Q: Tell us about the Community Track. What does it offer new attendees?
A: Each year, we design the ApacheCon Community Track to cater to a diverse set of audiences. For new attendees, the track provides a great introduction to the “Apache Way”, highlighting everything about our culture, including how we work, interact and communicate. The track also provides an overview of how projects become part of the ASF’s Apache Incubator program, from submitting a proposal to how to graduate to a top-level project.
We also have a great lineup featuring some of the ASF founders at the Founders Panel. For example, Jim Jagielski is going to be speaking about the “Apache Way”. Lars Eilebrecht will present Behind the Scenes of the Apache Software Foundation. Another talk stood out to me: it's Ruth Holloway on empathy and compassion, trying to get people to imagine themselves in somebody else's shoes effectively. Her talk is titled A Mile in My Shoes: How Empathy & Compassion Can Transform Your Work & Your Life. We also have some speakers from the Chinese community in our track at ApacheCon North America.
I'm also looking forward to some of the behind-the-scenes talks -- to get perspective from some of the founders on how Apache and the ASF have changed in the 20 years that the ASF has been going; where they started all those years ago and where we are now.
Q: What value does the track have for people who are not new to ApacheCon?
A: One area that is quite interesting within open-source is that to have a more balanced community, people make a lot of contributions that are not related to coding. We have contributors who create art, manage the writing, or even handle interviews. These non-coding activities contribute to the health and activity of the community. So one of the things we talk about in our community track deals with understanding the people that are not coders - not developers - but do add some real value to your community.
Q: What benefits do employers get from sending their employees to this track?
A: A lot of employers use open-source software. If a corporation is relying on something that is open-source, it makes sense to be involved in the communities that create that open-source material. Doing this provides assurance that you have input on how the project goes forward, besides being actually involved in contributing. Participating helps safeguard your reliance on the open-source software you're using, and coming to ApacheCon gives your employees an understanding of how Apache works because not all open source foundations work in the same way.
Q: One more question: I know you are involved with ApacheCon Europe Track. How does it differ from ApacheCon North America Community Track?
A: ApacheCon Europe is going to be in Berlin from the 22nd to the 24th of October. We have two days of the community track and some of the topics are similar -- we have the same theme around Apache, the Apache way, Incubator. We also have the Podling's Shark Tank. One thing that's a bit different for the EU is that there will be talks around Apache governance and the board members.
For example, a new board director will share their story about their first six months on the ASF board. We often hear about being an Apache contributor, developer, or a committer but it is not often you get to hear about what's it like to be a board member. This talk should be quite interesting for attendees because anyone can eventually become an Apache board member thanks to Apache flat organizational model.
Another ApacheCon Europe Community Track related to the board is about quarterly reports. All the Apache projects need to report to the board every quarter, which can make for hundreds of board reports. This talk covers how board members handle reading all those project reports that are submitted.
And one of the highlights that we've got in the ApacheCon Europe Community Track is about the concept of a community but taken to a different level, looking at something akin to shared neurons. We at Apache often talk about communities as one giant brain, and out of that collaboration, we get a lot of great ideas and a ton of creativity. There are some quite interesting things that we're running in the ApacheCon Europe Community Track that are not on the schedule for North America. If you get the chance to attend both, that would be great.
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