For our first interview, I caught up with Sumana Harihareswara (@brainwane). Sumana is a long time open source practitioner, technology manager, feminist, community organizer, coder, writer, speaker, Star Trek fan (see intro) and occasional stand-up comedian. Sumana and I worked together at Wikimedia, where she built a team focused on growing Wikimedia’s developer community.
Throughout our work together, I came to deeply admire Sumana’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in open tech and culture communities. In our interview, she talks about communities that have successfully put inclusiveness first: Dreamwidth, Growstuff, Archive of Our Own, the Recurse Center (formerly Hacker School), and others.
We talk about the recently introduced Code of Conflict for Linux kernel development and the Friendly Space Policy adopted by Wikimedia thanks to Sumana’s leadership. She also describes the work of the Ada Initiative, an organization dedicated to supporting women in open technology and culture (Sumana is a major donor and former board member).
Throughout, Sumana shares her insights on how to create hospitable, friendly and truly open communities. Her passion, as she says early on, is to empower marginalized and underprivileged people using technology. If you share this passion, check out the interview and some of the links below, and be part of the conversation.
Links and resources mentioned in the interview
- “In the pale dublight” DS9 fanvid by Sumana Harihareswara with music by Syun Nakano
- “Be a better mentor” poster by Sumana Harihareswara and Rupa das Gupta
- “Inessential weirdnesses in open source” by Sumana Harihareswara
- “Codes of conduct and the trade-offs of copyleft” by Sumana Harihareswara
- Ada Initiative Ally Skills training
- Recurse Center manual
- Dr. Richard M. Felder’s homepage and Dr. Linda Silverman’s homepage. Sumana references the Felder-Silverman model of learning styles, and these respective websites contain useful background information. (You may wish to feed these through the readability bookmarklet or sth. similar.)
Transcript and subtitles
Please help to transcribe the video and create subtitles. You can do so on Amara (you may have to reload that link after creating an account). If you’re interested in getting involved on an ongoing basis (including possibly doing your own interviews!), please join our mailing list.
The interview was done via Google Hangouts on Air. I didn’t use the live broadcast feature, but instead downloaded the MP4 from YouTube, edited it with Blender and then re-uploaded it to YouTube. This is my first foray into video work, so I apologize for beginner’s mistakes. In particular, sorry for the crappy mic quality this time around; I had already purchased a Meteor mic but couldn’t use it for this hangout due to a last minute glitch. :-(
Speaking of glitches, the occasional hiccup is inevitable when dealing with videoconferencing. I’ve cut out a couple of segments that were inaudible, but left intact sequences with minor glitches. Editorially, I’ve removed a couple of longer segments that were a bit circular and edited out some pauses and such.
I couldn’t have done it without MikeyCal‘s excellent Blender tutorials. Editing video with free software is challenging, but it works. As you will notice if you watch all the way through, I’ve overlaid a few screen recordings; these were done with Maarten Baert’s SimpleScreenRecorder. The lower third and chapter titles were done with Inkscape and GIMP.
The video is public domain (CC-0), except for featured content like the opening fanvid and website screencasts. I’d be happy to share more of the raw material if people are interested.
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