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Talking about diversity: Hanging Out With Ashe Dryden

Around 1976 the feminist movement in the Netherlands was pretty strong. I was 18 at the time. There were the Dolle Mina’s, a Dutch feminist group which campaigned for equal rights for women. The group actively promoted the ‘Baas in eigen buik’ principle aquivalent to the  pro-choice movement. The term is hard to translate, but comes close to ‘Boss in own tummy’ and  seems to have a US equivalent called ‘Women on Waves’. At that time I was proudly wearing a female power button sympathising with this movement. It did not go much further than that, but I always had a strong sense of sympathy towards that movement, for anything rebelious or minorities. Not to much has changed.

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It seems unbelievable this is already some 40 years ago. There is still the need to pro-actively deal with the rights of women and of minorities. There will always be minorities that need to be supported. With the advent of the internet the world only got smaller and it became easier to communicate with many different people. We have many collaborative tools at our disposal, but we are sometimes blind to the cultural richness around us or we just do not know how to really include the full extent of the world around us.  

Being inclusive and diverse will enable your project to move forward in ways you did not think were possible before and will give you more fun in working together. Chances that your project will start dealing with other aspects of your community are high. A very developer focused community like the TYPO3 project needs TLC (Tenderness Love and Care) in many different areas.

For the TYPO3 community this seems even more important carrying the motto ‘Inspiring People To Share’.  I sometimes dream of how we could transport this feeling not only pertaining to software.

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So TYPO3 is a pretty much white male developer oriented community. Diversity has been buzzing around the community for the past years, but it seems difficult to achieve. When I addressed the issue with someone a few years ago the reaction was: ‘There are no girls’. This perception pretty much describes the problem. 50% of the population are girls.

In the past years things have changed and awareness on the topic has grown. There are people in our community that talk about diversity at events and the TYPO3 Community Working Group (CWG) has diversity high on its agenda.

From within CWG we initiated a hangout with Ashe Dryden to get some input on how to increase diversity, be inclusive and at the same time spread TYPO3. Ashe is an activist from the US and spends the majority of her time educating people about the lack of diversity in tech. Ashe is working on a book called ‘The Diverse Team' subtitled 'Healthy Companies, Progressive Practices’. It is as yet unpublished, but you can support Ashe.

There are a number of characteristics that define a community. In our conversation with Ashe we touched on how to get out of these stereotypical definitions. Outreach is the keyword to get out of any predicament. In order for outreach to be most effective, actively approaching people is imperative. More focus could be shifted to people in areas where the community is not so well spread. And I do not only mean geographically. Asking people with expertise in a certain area, besides the typical core topics, to talk at conferences and event, also helps spread a community.

The biggest takeaway I got from hanging out with Ashe is that in order to have more diversity you need outreach. Outreach itself does not mean showing you are open, but being open. Publishing articles and asking people for feedback only works for a minority. Outreach is very much connecting to people and asking them to join your project or a specific task. Enabling people to act on behalf of your project is very powerful.

The article on typo3.org contains some more specific info on the hangout: http://typo3.org/news/article/the-community-working-group-hangs-out-with-ashe-dryden/

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Ashe Dryden

Being inclusive and achieving more diversity is not done overnight and requires a new mindset. Culture isn’t dictated, but lived. Changing a culture requires constant tiny adjustments. It’s not just about showing people you’re open, but actively encouraging positive, wanted behaviour; it’s about injecting those thoughts and beliefs into discussions and events to make people aware of what is expected. It’s about modelling expected behaviour.

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Play To Innovate At T3CON14 Berlin

Two days to go until my presentation about innovation. I did a first tweet out about my workshop and got some interesting feedback on work and fun:

"Work has got to be play or it doesn’t work."
- Ray Bradbury

Robert Weißgraeber replies: “why should we limit ourselves?

It made me think of what work, fun and especially play means to me.

No Games

Someone asked me if my presentation is about gamification. Well it is not at all. I am actually not a gamer. My attention span does not allow me to play board games or games like this. 

What playing means to me is to creatively work towards an end result. I could play domino’s by myself for very long stretches only to admire the combination of dots or play with Lego for days on end when I was a lot younger.

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Domino by Adrià Ariste Santacreu

So ‘Play To Innovate’ is based in the old adagio ‘Play To Win’, which is not about the game, but about the result. While this is only about ‘win’, the innovation game is a win-win-win. It is about the goal, the experience and about you as a person innovating yourself.

I am also looking to do the presentation in an informative and innovative way. Honestly I was never to fond of preparing presentations with slides that cost me hours to get together before I even had the text. It will also be an exploration for myself to see what I like and where I feel comfortable with. 

I will try to deal with it in a fail proof way and Inspect and Adapt where necessary for a next iteration.

Join me on Friday in the AOE room from 11:15 - 12:00 to ‘Play To Innovate’.

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User eXperience Week 2014: Yoga sessions

Introduction

I have been doing yoga for two years when writing this. When I was around 20 (1978) I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, which pushed me into practising basic yoga and meditation for a short time. In between that time and now I did martial arts like Judo and Karate and practised Tai Chi for some five years. Coming across yoga again was like an encounter with an old friend.

Yoga is about mind, body, breath, the three pillars that make up us humans. We easily take breathing for granted, Breathing is a very powerful tool giving us control over our lives if we chose to use it.

Benefits of yoga are:

  1. Lowers stress, improves the mood
  2. Boosts your confidence
  3. Lowers the risk of injury
  4. Helps you lose weight
  5. Increase flexibility
  6. Improve muscle tone and strength
  7. Benefits breathing
  8. Improves your posture

TYPO3 User eXperience Week 2014

At the TYPO3 User eXperience Week 2014 I wanted to share the yoga I learned over these past years with the attendants using some very basic simple exercises I describe below.

The TYPO3 User eXperience Week 2014 is about enhancing the usability and user experience of TYPO3 CMS. With about 30 people we worked on new concepts and documentation. This involves a lot of sitting throughout the day that needs to be compensated in some way. Besides the early morning walks guided by experienced field guid Paul Blondiaux, I did three sessions from 7 to 8 in the morning on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The list below is by no means meant to be complete in its description, but gives an impression on what we did during the early morning sessions.

It was an honour to have the opportunity to present the sessions for the ones that attended. Thank you!

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Yoga class | Augusto Mia Battaglia

5 simple postures

Yoga has many different postures as you have undoubtedly seen on pictures, some pretty complicated. For these yoga session keeping it simple was the way to go. I made a simple scheme with 5 basic variations. Remember this yoga (Hatha) is not athletics. Take it easy, do not take it to far and keep breathing!

Mountain - standing

  1. Seek balance - shift left to right, front to back, find your centre
  2. Breathing - come down through the knees (breathe in) and up (breathe out), arms side ways
  3. Swing with your arms relaxed to your sides. Turn from left to right. Make the movement bigger and then smaller again.
  4. Grab pulse with one hand and pull upwards. Cange and repeat.
  5. Breathing - hands together, different positions (heights: belly, belly button, sternum, heart, neck, head ) from low to high
  6. Lean over sideways, arms stretched over your head. Breathe to your bent side.

Animal - on all fours

  1. Cat and cow - Bend back upwards (cow) and downwards (cat)
  2. Child’s pose - the ultimate relaxing position. Sit knees bent, lean forward hands on the floor and exert a little pressure with the hands pushing yourself back
  3. Downward dog - feet on the floor, hands on the floor, form a triangle
  4. Child’s pose

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Child’s Pose | Balasana

Sitting

  1. Relax the shoulders
  2. Turn the spine look over the shoulder. Look over left shoulder, left hand behind the back, right hand push the left knee just a little bit for the twist and other way around.
  3. Yoga mudra. Lean forward, arms in front of you and relax
  4. Together in pairs, push up shoulders, person behind gives a little bit counter pressure. Same for left and right shoulder.

Lying on stomach

  1. Head on hands - relax
  2. Sphinx
  3. Head on hands - relax
  4. Cobra
  5. Head on hands - relax

Lying on back

  1. Draw up legs and circle, small to big circles
  2. Legs to the right and head to the left and other way around
  3. Tense your body, stretch every muscle in your body also your facial muscles
  4. Relaxation with music - Shavasana

If you have any questions than let me know. If you are interested in the positions themselves searching the internet will give you a lot of instructional pics and vids.

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How To Remove Fear From Your Development

Scott Hanselman writes on his blog about Fear Driven Development that “… fear can have developers worried about making mistakes”.

In this time of collaborative working, the importance of training people skills and transforming I into WE, it is refreshing to look back on what we actually come from and how hard kicking the fear habit is and sometimes unavoidable.

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At Inspiring Conference in the beginning of this year I held a small opening talk about the importance of people skills and how that is a skill that needs to be trained, just as you need to train your muscles to become strong and flexible.

The most important part of my opening speech was how individuals in a community choose to lead. If taking leadership meets resistance, maybe because of the nature of the community or organisation, you can lead change by taking small steps. It is not about managing by fear, but it takes courage to be yourself.

Sebastian Bergmann, PHP consultant, talked about the Driven Developer at that same Inspiring Conference. Although the talk was technical by nature the word ‘human’ was brought up numerous times from human-readable code to developers as humans. When hearing about Behaviour Driven Development and the many forms of DD there actually are I dreamt of Values Driven Development as a DD form where we develop from perspectives of sharing and coding for the good of the world.

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What Scott perfectly shows is that Fear Driven Development seems, at times, unavoidable because we might be stuck with an organisational structure that just does not allow for change.

Another thing that is prevalent in probably most software projects is fear of code.

Perhaps the code is older (legacy code) but more likely it’s just not fully understood. It mostly works, but folks are afraid that a small change to the code could cost unpredictable side-effects.

The best way to overcome these fears is to tackle organisational and code issues one step at a time, celebrating every small victory with your team and ‘leading by example’.

Leading by example means converting the criticism into encouragement of participating in your effort, because leading is nothing else then enabling others to shine in your community, organisation or process. 

At the end of his article Scott asks for other flavors of Fear Driven Development. There are undoubtedly a lot of factors that fuel fear. The first thing that comes to my mind however is fear that prevents development.

Innovation, like leadership, takes courage, but also brings a lot of joy when you see progress. Letting go of fear and embracing what you already have (developed) provides a solid basis for innovation and thinking out-of-the-box.

10 ways to get innovating

  1. Read how others do it
  2. Take a course
  3. Read a book you would normally never read
  4. Ask a child
  5. Paint a picture
  6. Write something
  7. Get up at 5:20 in the morning
  8. Meditate
  9. Accept who you are
  10. Assume everything you know is wrong
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Embrace and Innovate: TYPO3 Active Contributor Meetup, Munich 2014

After the TYPO3camp Munich it was time for the Active Contributor Meeting of TYPO3 CMS. The active contributirs have several real life meetings a year. Munich based TYPO3 company Typovision hosted this meeting.

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Some fifteen of the active people, working on the TYPO3 CMS core, spent three days working on general issues pertaining to the direction the project is taking.

The first day was partly spent on discussing this future. Benni Mack introduced his vision on the core team and values like embrace and innovate really inspired the participants.The core of the vision is Embrace and Innovate.

Felix Kopp presented his view on how parts of CMS need to be clearly separated in an edit, manage and presentation layer shown in a content lifecycle. Currently things are mixed up in CMS of which the use of TypoScript for frontend and backend is a good example.

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TYPO3 CMS core team leadership - Oliver Hader and Benni Mack

Felix also presented the work he has been doing on a ‘flat’ design for the backend, based on bootstrap. The concept of focus apps targeted at specific functionality was note worthy.

The overall spirit at the ACME was lifted a lot compared to previous meetings, especially thanks to our very own pitbull Mattes who never ceases to bite some ass here and there. The team kicked into productive mode later in the afternoon of the first day and kept at that pace for the rest of the three days.

TYPO3 CMS 7 is planned for release somewhere around October 2015 and will be a profound change, especially regarding the backend usability from what we have seen the past years.

Work on usability will continue at the User Experience Week 2014 from September 20 - 27.

Benni Mack writes about Insights from the TYPO3 CMS Active Contributor Meetup in Munich on typo3.org.

Pictures I took at the ACME are available on G+: http://goo.gl/EBJvVn

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Give a smarter K.I.S.S.

The acronym K.I.S.S. is mostly used in software project management and is referred to in many cases as Keep It Simple and Stupid. Its origins lie at Lockheed Skunk Works, creators of the (in)famous U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes.

There are a few variants of K.I.S.S. that basically come down to the same meaning. Acronyms are powerful, because they are used as one word potentially also conveying the meaning of that word. Acronyms are both easy to pronounce and to remember.

We recently made up another, more positive variant, in a conversation my friend and coach Ravi Chabbra. Ravi is always juggling around with letters and giving powerful meaning to words and combination of letters.

Simple as in K.I.S.S. is not always easy to achieve and the essence of reaching simplicity can even be paradoxically complex at times. In a project that features many layers of complexity both technically and people wise managing attention can easily lead to things getting done only half-way. Identifying layers in complexity and exposing its underlying functionality or purpose is something you should take into account when starting a project.

Taking small steps, baby steps keeps your head clear, your focus concentrated and allows you to celebrate reaching goals way easier then it is in a project that is upfront dealt with in a complex way

People management asks for people skills, soft skills and has redefined leadership these past years. The definition of leadership in the context of management has long been regarded as a top down action where the ‘leader’ or manager distributes his orders to employees that almost sheepishly are expected to execute what has been laid down in the project plan. Because of the size of the project the project plan is presumably quite old already when starting the project. This indeed is stupid.

There is not much power in stupid however. Stupid has a negative meaning as some mindless interaction with your environment, although in K.I.S.S. stupid is only meant to strengthen the meaning of simple. Stupid is often used in human interaction where we express in a discouraging way how we feel about the actions of one of our fellow humans.

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Specifically as a community leader you learn that engaging in your community it is all about encouraging and serving your community. K.I.S.S. has gotten a much more powerful meaning where the Stupid is transformed in Serve turning the whole acronym into Keep It Simple and Serve.

You do not necessarily need to be a leader or manager to serve, however. Living in a positive encouraging way serves your fellow humans and provides you with more fun and appreciation in life and a better relationship towards your fellow humans in a positive way and turns your perspective from I into we.

It is amazingly easy how to give more positive meaning if you are open to the possibilities.

With Serve K.I.S.S. turns into an even more powerful mantra that is easy to remember for anyone in their life and work.

Keep It Simple and Serve

 

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TYPO3camp Munich 2014

On Saturday the opening session of TYPO3camp Munich started with coupling old time community members to newcomers, a concept we know as t3buddies from this year’s developer days. It is great to see that the idea is adopted and it definitely is a promising concept to use for future community events.

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The sessions kicked of with a keynote by Florian Dinauer about scrum and motivating people. Florian talked about how the agile framework scrum is used in his company Techdivision. Scrum is extremely simple and very well suited for use in complex software projects. The scrum framework and agile principles are also used beyond software development in the broader world of work.

It is great to see how prominent people skills and soft skills are becoming in managing teams and companies. The value of human interaction is becoming more important and fun is not only something you will have at home or in your holidays.

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After the keynote Christian Müller and me did a session on the TYPO3 community, introducing people to the teams and ways to participate. Many people new to TYPO3 joined the session and the TYPO3camp. Christian did most of the talking as the official language of this TYPO3camp in the heart of Bavaria is of course German.

Christian and I are part of the Community Working Group together with Benni Mack and Gina Steiner. The Community Working Group is a group of people supporting TYPO3 in all matters community. Matters like diversity and the Code of Conduct are topics on the CWG agenda. Sessions like this one are very important to gain new active community members and an integral part of the mission of CWG. 

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A TYPO3camp is done in barcamp style, which is an open, participatory style. It never ceases to amaze me how organically the grid of sessions always fills.  

It seemed like summer had finally arrived early in September. The first day progressed in a friendly and warm atmosphere. The Saturday closed with the social event, buffet dinner and cocktails resulting in an ice bucket challenge.

Besides technical topics there were quite a few sessions of a participatory nature. The session on diversity by Fiona and Petra Hasenau was of particular interest to me as community manager and also very important to the TYPO3 community as such. The TYPO3 community is of a pretty homogeneous nature and getting to a more diverse foundation is important for a sustainable community.

imagePetra and Fiona Hasenau and Christian Müller at the Diversity session.

The diversity session partially revolved around the TYPO3camps themselves. Patrick Lobacher, one of the organisers of the camp, chimed in explaining what they already tried and is really open to any suggestions to get more diversity in the TYPO3camps. Stories coming from the participants of the session showed varying experiences regarding openness of the community. Some found it difficult to connect to the community, while others are wildly enthusiastic about the friendliness of TYPO3 community. 

Some practical solutions were discussed. These are not easily implemented, because we lack manpower for execution. Patrick announced a mentor ship initiative that sounds very promising.

That awareness regarding community involvement and diversity is increasing is great and it looks to me we are on a good way to become more inclusive, which in the end will be beneficial for the whole TYPO3 community.

My pics of the TYPO3camp Munich are on G+: http://goo.gl/LCQUPV

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Appreciate everything, everyday, most of the time.

"The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness."
- Dalai Lama

Appreciation is at the heart of an Open Source community and the basis for living life in general. Appreciation is a motivator, a heart-warmer and the essence to connecting to other humans.

We easily take things for granted and it is our perception of what is good that sometimes needs to be calibrated. At this particular time of writing with the War on Gaza and the downing of MH17 appreciation seems far and in between. It is at times like this we neglect the small things that come to us. A smile from a passer-by, a helping hand from your neighbour or a touch on the shoulder from someone you actually do not even know.

Our own efforts are sometimes so central to the goals we need and want to achieve that someone that is not with us can only be against us. Taking a different perspective can make anyone a helping hand in achieving your goals.

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Some things I have learned that can provide a different perspective and open you up to appreciation:

  • Take a break, a deep breath, a pause. it gives you calm and distance to have a look what actually is going on around you.

  • Assume best intent. People most often do their best according to their motivation, even though that might not be your motivation

  • Eat good food in small amounts. Having to digest a lot of food draws away your energy and makes you grumpy.

  • Start your day with some quiet time. Your dreams can be quite disturbing and will make you get up in a chaotic state at times. These 5 to 10 minutes can be a perfect time to plan your day. If you are on the right track yourself this will leave you with time to appreciate your surroundings.

  • Workout! Seek competition with yourself not with others.

Community

As a community manager, working for the TYPO3 community, I do talks and presentation at events about communication, innovation. In my daily work I realise how important it is to appreciate people for what they do.

On the one hand the big size of the community makes things go unrecognized and on the other hand the bazaar nature of the community does not always align with the competitive nature of the companies that implement our content  management system for big projects that have the most important communication channel, their website, based on our software.

Everyone deserves a towel

Preparing talks, especially long ones, can be a nerve-wrecking experience, going over your notes the night before, getting little sleep and being nervous before your talk.

For last month’s Developer Days of the TYPO3 community I came up with the idea to shower the community with appreciation. I prepared 20 towels with embroidered on it “member of the TYPO3 community” with our orange project logo clearly visible.

For the opening of the Developer Days I hooked up community members that have been in the TYPO3 community for a long time already with totally new comers. Getting the new comers to the front is difficult. They are not new for nothing. With some nice words and to the point questions I was able to get ten pairs together. Their only mission was to connect and act as TYPO3 buddies and tweet pics with the hastag #t3buddies.

I feel very comfortable doing something like this. The payoff is immediately there. People connect, have fun and communicate. Isn’t that what community is about?

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For the closing part of the event I came up with a similar idea, but then I made the ceremony even easier. People were just asked to give a towel to someone they appreciate. This started incredibly slow, showing how shy people are to show their appreciation. As momentum built people came up to the front of the audience in rapid succession and I was out of towels in no time.

"Everyone deserves a towel"
- Karsten Dambekalns

Then all of a sudden I heard someone in the back say: ‘Everyone deserves a towel’. I felt a bit embarrassed not having enough towels for everyone. On the other hand it also made me realise that appreciation is not a bulk thing, but something we do on an individual basis. You as an individual let someone else know you appreciate them. There is gerat power in there.

No matter in what community you are, because basically we all are in a community one way or the other, look around you and you will see a lot to be thankful for of despite shit going on around you.

On a daily basis think of something you are grateful for or thank someone you appreciate! It will make life a lot lighter.

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Catching sunrays and ending up with a rainbow

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TYPO3 Eastern Europe

Daniel Homorodean just invited me to TYPO3 Eastern Europe. Of course I gladly accept his kind invitation to visit this great event.

Daniel explains that this event is a little different than a TYPO3camp:

"We call "TYPO3 East Europe" a "TYPO3 event", not a camp, because in the mind of many a "camp" equals a "bar camp", which T3EE is not. T3EE is, in format, closer to a conference, but we don’t use that name either, in order not to confuse the people, as there is only one "TYPO3 Conference" in Europe, organized by the Association. So T3EE is "a TYPO3 event", which actually gives us the liberty to make a special format which in time can change, with side events and so on."

I welcome everyone in the TYPO3 community and especially from Eastern Europe itself to come and join me for T3EE. Tickets are already available on the T3EE website.

Having a TYPO3camp in Eastern Europe is of great significance to the TYPO3 community and to the whole project. While we have many TYPO3camp in Germany, which we can consider basecamp for TYPO3, we are getting increasingly more TYPO3camps outside of Germany, like for instance the international TYPO3camp in Mallorca and TYPO3camps in Poland, France and in the Netherlands.

Last year’s TYPO3camp in Romania can be characterized by a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. The amount of female developers/participants was higher then at any other TYPO3 event. The internet connection was top notch and a record four social events with the last one at the Ursus Beer Factory

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What really makes this year’s event special is that it is held right at Halloween. There might be a lot of reasons to come to this TYPO3camp and party in Transylvania, but you partying on Halloween in Transylvania beats any reason. 

There are a number of cheap airlines to Cluj, Romania, which will make it even more worth coming.

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