I had an action-packed trip to California about a week ago. First was the 2009 Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit, which turned out to essentially be an open-source development conference, sponsored in an extremely generous way by Google. It took place at the Google campus, AKA the “Googleplex”, which I saw a long time ago back when it was the SGI campus, but now looks rather different. What can I say - for all the talk of cutbacks, it looks like Googlers still have it pretty good. The cafeteria food was so good, it made me just want to stay in the cafeteria all day.
The conference itself was quite interesting. I especially liked the talks about the non-development aspects of open source software, like the discussions on
marketing and inter-project communication (I wrote the notes for both of those sessions, which I don’t think is a coincidence because I was interested in those topics to begin with). It was eye-opening to see that every open-source project, even the established ones with foundations and business models and lots of users (all categories that potentially describe both Wikimedia and MediaWiki) struggle with the same issues of gaining “buzz” and coordinating decisions that regular software companies, for better or worse, have professionals handling.
I also got to spend with my brother and his wonderful family. And yes, I did go to this party, which was awesome (it was essentially a party full of people at various software startups, which you would never, ever see in New York); and, separately, I went to this great vegetarian restaurant as well.
After the weekend, it was time to head to the new MediaWiki office in San Francisco, where I met for two days with the members of the Wikipedia Usability Initiative. We had some very interesting and fruitful discussions, all on the subject of the template forms project, which is what I’m involved with. Lots of discussions about naming, which is always trickier than it seems!
In what really is a coincidence, earlier today I released the TemplateInfo extension, which is the first draft of my section of the work for the template-forms project. Hopefully it’ll end up on a gigantic website before too long.
Update: Oops, I forgot to post a link to the photo of all GSoC Mentor Summit attendees. Can you spot me? Hint: I’m in the back row, right next to the tree, in a blue hoodie.