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Down the Rabbit Hole

From the start of this year I haven’t blogged much. Among other things, I had a few major changes in my personal life which I needed to focus on and I was at a major crossroads with my blog. I was having some serious writer’s block and was questioning the purpose/reason for the existence of my blog.

Let’s go back in time a little to understand how I reached this crossroad.

I started using Ubuntu for very selfish reasons, at the time all I wanted was a better experience than I was having with Windows. It never crossed my mind when I began that I would end up telling, teaching and helping new users come into the world of open source software.

Trying to ‘sell’ Ubuntu and the concept of open source software has been a very interesting experience for me.

Several members in the Vancouver community encouraged me to blog about my experience. I was very opposed to this idea. “First”, I said, “I don’t have anything to say and who wants to listen to the stories of an end user? In addition, I’m not qualified to blog or say anything about open source software. There are many more people who have a lot of experience and skill.” After some time I agreed to blog, although reluctantly, thinking to myself, the only person who’s going to read this is probably my friends if I’m lucky.

When I started my blog, its original intent was to be merely Ubuntu only. It was all I knew at the time. Only through discussion and sharing of my blog with many of my girlfriends did I realize my initial focus for the blog was incorrect.

It’s taken me nearly 2 years to see this and it happened very slowly and quite gradually.

Interesting things started to happen…

First off, if you haven’t figured this out I’m a girl and my background is business not IT.

Second, the majority of people I’ve met in this community are males. The stats speak for themselves.

Third, women are different from men when it comes to technology. The way a male explains and understands technology is worlds away from how females explains and understands technology. Neither are wrong just very different.

So what started to happen? Well, all my girlfriends know I run Ubuntu and that I’m an active member in the community doing mainly education/outreach and marketing for new users. I told them about my blog and they wanted to know my blog link so, of course I gave it to them. These are my long time girlfriends, I’ve known many for 10+ years and in all our conversations, technology is not something girls sit around chatting about. I don’t know why, it just never comes up as a topic.

Recently in the last year or so, my girlfriends have started asking me questions about my blog, open source software, and Ubuntu.  I thought, well that’s interesting. They aren’t ready to jump in head first but they are certainly curious and want to learn more.

After numerous, lengthy discussions with them, I finally was able to see what was happening. They felt much more comfortable asking me their questions. I was in essence them and they knew I would explain it to them in a way that not only they could understand but had a genuine interest in wanting to help them learn and understand the concepts of open source software.

They wanted to raise their Technology IQ (meaning they wanted to have the basic understanding of technology principles so that they could ask intelligent questions)

Whenever, I came back to the Ubuntu discussion I found the got ‘lost’ very quickly. Then the light bulb came on for me. It wasn’t that they couldn’t understand Ubuntu, actually the problem was a much more fundamental one. The same one I experienced when I first started learning about open source software. There are fundamental ideas, concepts and knowledge that most developers/programmers etc just know. It’s a part of their reality but coming from the proprietary world without an IT background these concepts and ideas are quite foreign.

In essence, my girlfriends needed some fundamental understanding and knowledge about open source software in manner that made sense to them.  From that they can then move on to learning about the variety and diversity of open source software.

Kind of like learning to crawl, before you can walk, before you can run.

I still feel like I’m crawling, some days I get to walk a little. Maybe one day I’ll run but even so I would be quite happy with just walking.

The gist of all this is to change my focus to really help answer the question: Ubuntu. What is it? Because it’s not about Ubuntu. Its about the fundament principles and idea behind open source software. Most importantly, my goal is to present this information in a manner that is simple, fun and concise. Fun being the key word 🙂

This blog is still my journey, voice and experience – but maybe learning and sharing is just my way of trying to understand and make sense of it all.

Often I feel like Alice who has fallen down the rabbit hole and tumbled into wonderland. The world of open source software is quite mysterious, magical and wondrous to me. Maybe that’s the way to begin, with a story…


2 thoughts on “Down the Rabbit Hole

  1. I think it’s great to hear from end users and sometimes thing we could do with more of it 🙂 Great post!

    Rather than gender lines, it really sounds like you’re talking about “geek” and “non geek.” At any given time I have a number of conversations going on like you have with your girlfriends with all kinds of non-geek people I encounter, slowly getting them into understanding what open source is (and particularly, why it matters and how it can help them). Members of my family have been interested in learning just so they could understand what all “this stuff I work on” is. There’s really nothing like the personal relationship you have with people that can make asking questions and learning more easier.

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