Going to CMS Africa

Strathmore University, is a leading University in Nairobi, Kenya, whose mission is to provide all-round quality education in an atmosphere of freedom and responsibility; excellence in teaching, research and scholarship; ethical and social development; and service to society. On Friday March 7 and 8 the university partners with CMS Africa to organise the CMS Africa Summit.

The event is organised to create awareness on various Open Source CMS’s. Africa businesses have concerns on how Open Source CMS’s are implemented and maintained. Delivery of websites is not adequate enough and installations are left with gaping security holes. Those vulnerablities are also a threat to e-commerce in the region. Without proper education in this field Open Source CMS’s will not gain the necessary acceptance. 

Oduor Jagero, the Lead at CMS Africa says,

It’s an opportunity for people involved in Open Source to meet experts and founders of these CMSs. It’s also an opportunity to exchange contacts, learn from each other, and take your business to the next level.

As community manager I have been travelling to a number of European countries and to the US, but this looks like a whole different ballgame to me. It is very hard to make an estimation on how to work in that area.

I see two different challenges. One how to promote, educate and to gain acceptance for TYPO3 that I represent. Of course the same values apply as we always use as TYPO3 being an Enterprise Content Management and the many high level features that make it stand out from the competition.

Another one is the challenge of spreading Open Source and the collaborative nature of how we work as communities. To maintain the conversation seems extremely important in the light of the issues mentioned earlier. Through the past years communities have become increasingly important throughout the world, partly also due to the world wide recession. I see this on a local level in the Netherlands, but our communication tools also enable us to create communities that interact on global scale.

I hope to find out how we can create this link to the African continent for our OS CMS’s and to provide our tools as a medium to communicate and interact also on an economic level enabling easy access to create virtual market places for everyone.

Tags: CMSafrica

Wisdom 2.0 2014: Eckhart Tolle Explains Who You Really Are


Eckhart Tolle, bestselling author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, gave a “meditative lecture” at Wisdom 2.0, leading us on a journey inward that enabled us to experience who we really are.

"It’s an amazing thing, this present moment," he began. "But it’s usually overlooked. When you think of the future, it can never arrive in the future. It can only arrive at the present moment." He emphasized that the present is all we have, and outlined the following process we can use to get to the experience of that present moment.

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Reach out and be inclusive

Meg Ford writes in her article on opensource.com how communication styles needs to shift in order to emphasize inclusion. Meg is a member of the GNOME community, which is quite active with their Outreach Program for Women. I attended Karen Sandler’s (Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation) session at OSCON 2013 about this topic. Also at the Community Leadership Summit the topic is prevailing.

Davis Eaves called women in open source the canary in the coal mine in an article dating back to 2009 already and explains how this isn’t just about women and how social capital drives an open source community. Being inviting and reaching out to women is one way to create diversity. Diversity is on a much broader level and is about people who think different, have a different skin colour than ours or have a different sexual orientation than ours.

Diversity happens on a meta level many communities tend to set aside as not being essential to reach their ‘goals’. That meta level is about culture and an openness to listen to others and gain other perspectives.

This year is about innovation for me. I write about it and submitted a proposal for OSCON 2014 called ‘Play To Innovate’. For me innovation start within and is all about opening your mind to the perspective of others. First innovate yourself, before innovating anytihng else. The more diverse the input you can innovate.

Lack diversity might make contributions difficult, because people do not feel welcome, everything is just to linear. There are people out there in your community that can contribute to your project. Make sure they feel welcome and included.

Creating diversity is one thing to give of that signal. Reach out and be inclusive. Shy no-one not even trolls. They might even turn into contributors.


Play To Innovate

The things you can do under pressure! Innovation is a topic that is on my mind a lot lately. Innovation not only in projects, but also in personal life and essentially that is where the journey starts. The power of letting go of conventional thinking is intriguing and can sometimes only be achieved under pressure. Not for one moment did I believe I would manage to get my head together to submit a talk for OSCON in Portland, but yet here it is.

Challenge our thinking and create a new mindset

An open and playful mind is a sound basis for innovation. Opening up the mind towards creativity is a challenge as we tend to remain trains of thought, our comfort zone. How do we define the open mind and how to reach such a state connecting our work and play together for living better and creating a better, vibrant, world while doing that?

Play To Innovate is not about colourful bubble clays, Nerf Guns, cardboards, pens, strings and so on…. Play To Innovate shows a playful understanding of life where innovation starts within and takes you to a level where innovation feels like the air we breathe.

Play To innovate takes a step into the direction of change carried by mindfulness. As a take-away you will see some of the things you learned earlier in your childhood re-confirmed.

In small steps, baby steps, this presentation shows you how to start the Play To Innovate game. Play To Innovate is about gaining clarity through sharing experiences of life, dreams, goals, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, attitudes, and actions.  It is about traveling on THE ROAD you really want to travel on to make your life and the life of the ones around you better.

The presenter will explore 5 steps that will you bring you closer to new habits and a new mindset

  1. Work without play can get boring.  Play herein refers to playfulness for creativity, innovation, and be open-minded for solutions that may not emerge from work alone. (Einstein :  doing the same thing over and over again…..expecting different results…)

  2. Open Source and Open Mind as a connection. Even though we work in Open Source that is not a guarantee for an Open Mind. Innovation CAN lead to failure and seeing failure as a basis to inspect and adapt and go to the next step is not always easy as failure is almost regarded as a criminal offence especially in Europe.

  3. Make Creative Thinking a Game. With some examples of simple games and exercises the apparent absurdity of problems can be solved by unconventional analysis not usually taken in classical problem-solving. This small step recognizes non-conformist thinking.

  4. See and Feel. You were invited to play the game, but do you experience what you  “see, feel and think”? Are your mind, body, eyes, ears supporting you? How does it feel to you and to your collaborators.

  5. Ask a child for advice. For many people if you say the word, ‘storytelling’, they presume it is for children. ‘storytelling’ offers to soothe yourself in the mindset of a child and permitting yourself to ask the questions that come along with the creative power of ‘storytelling’.

Also check out the slides of my Disrupt TYPO3 presentation on TYPO3camp Eastern Europe.




Sharing is the New Owning

Besides being a community manager, now working for the TYPO3 community, I am also co-chairman of the Skatehal Arnhem. Both projects are based on voluntary work. There are a lot of similarities, because of the voluntary nature of both organisations, but also differences especially concerning the size and flow of funds. My TYPO3 community management work is on a budget provided by the TYPO3 Association and my work for the Skatehal is voluntary.


I did a presentation about the Skatehal some weeks back at the final gathering of the Dutch Neighbourhood Alliance in Amsterdam. It featured quite a lot of projects from all over the Netherlands where citizens take initiative and run their own projects. The Skatehal is also a good example of how volunteers maintain a skate park. It should not go unmentioned that the Skatehal is located in a church, an awesome location attracting worldwide attention.

The meeting itself celebrated 5 years of cooperation where Buurtalliantie pleaded for professionals with ambition and guts, working creatively with challenges ahead and daring to deviate from the trodden paths. The trodden paths being mostly represented by rules, regulations and protocols established and travelled by managers and administrators. 5 years down the road there is hardly any money anymore to pay for these professionals due to budget cuts.

What was very well noticeable during the gathering is the apparent interest of governmental institutions in voluntary work. With the obvious budget cuts ‘doing more with less’ seems within reach when inserting voluntary effort. At the same time institutions find it difficult to ‘steer’ these initiatives. During one of the workshops the clear question was how to keep volunteers motivated. If the professionals mentioned earlier are brought into a project on a paid basis, chances are that the motivation or rather enthusiasm needed to  keep the voluntary fire glowing wanes away pretty easily. Guidance in such projects needs to come bottom up from people that breath their life into the project. When projects get bigger that guidance turns into a full-time effort, because obviously someone needs to have the Big Picture in mind.

Looking at these largely voluntary based projects needs a holistic view. Governmental institutions are incapable of providing such an overview if only because they are bound c.q. restricted by laws concerning  housing, taxes and other area’s. Such a holistic view is inherent to the drive people so often display when working in such projects and will be the motivator for people to remain enthusiastically engaged into their project.

Upon entering the building where the gathering was held I noticed the phrase ‘Delen is het nieuwe hebben’. It is Dutch for ‘Sharing is the New Owning’. In the TYPO3 community we have the motto ‘Inspiring People to Share’ from the very beginning of our community, like 10 years back already. It is a motto I have always found important and stretching beyond the boundaries of our software project.


Sharing is a property that is immensely important to make a community sustainable and have people renew their motivation again and again. Leadership, in whatever form, needs to understand these driving factors and act accordingly to contribute to this voluntary work and rise above the rules, regulations and protocols and find leadership in sharing as drive that is a feeling rather than a calculated political effort.

There are some hurdles to overcome here as sharing is much less or maybe not measurable in the conventional terms we measure ownership with. A new mindset is needed for that.



Two years ago my father died after a period of weakness and failing health. I did not cry, I felt the sadness deep inside. Letting go of one of your parents is one of the things in life that has a big impact and is very meaningful. I had let go of many attachments and consolidated the fact that the relationship with my father was coming to an end in a foreseeable future. There were no more issues standing between us and there was peace and acceptance in our conversation as we had established the true meaning of our relationship.

“It might seem sad, but we are forced to reinvent our lives when a loved one dies, and in this reinvention is opportunity. Which I think is beautiful.” – Leo Babauta

With my father’s passing away I felt part of his responsibilities transferred to me. I had lost the person that provided a listening ear, wisdom and understanding.  What would take its place? Losing my role as a son seemed most significant.

Besides all memories stored in the mind there are also a lot of physical things to let go of when losing a parent. For days I was going through all the stuff my father collected in his life, which was not too much as he led an orderly and remarkably frugal existence, rooted in growing up in wartime Holland.

In a suitcase I found a collection of diplomas, certificates and the likes, most in beautiful 50-ties design. For my father this was his life and the purpose of this was probably that someone would read his life from that, as a timeline of life events. For me it almost meant no more than a stack of papers that are beautiful to see, but definitely does not make up the life of someone. For me experiencing life is so much more important than giving it the solid form of papers. That collection showed me I was holding on to things that might end up as collectibles.


I made a lot of music and wrote poems and texts in the 80-ies and 90-ies. I had a box full of cassettes I recorded over the years and started to digitize. I spent quite some evenings alone or with friends, with or without beers, listening to these old recordings and revelling in feelings of times gone by. The box of cassettes, my copybooks of writing were central points in my life waiting to be digitized. Too much quality to let go of I imagined.

The memories kept me in a comfortable place and did not bring me any progress. Is it me in these recordings, is it me in these writings? These were things from the past and actually taking up space and keeping me from doing stuff now I realised.

I delivered my memories in a box to the local recycle centre and my copybooks went to the waste paper.

I now have piano lessons and write these articles. What was in the box and in the copybooks was an excellent foundation and letting go delivered the reality of now writing and playing piano.

Will you let go to progress?

"Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It’s like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That’s a triumph."

Ray Bradbury, Farewell Summer

Tags: letting go

Letting go

Control as a centralised power hub or force in itself rarely is something that is sustainable in the long run.

I had planned a post on letting go for a long time already. The line above was living in my tumblr drafts folder for a few months waiting to become this article. The challenge of everyday writing is getting more interesting and more challenging. This is my fourth post. The first ones were not that easy, but they kind of waiting in my drafts folder almost done to be sent. This post takes some more work i seems, but keeping at it will definitely make posting easier as we progress.

I really like the awareness that is coming with the writing everyday challenge and I am looking for ways to integrate it better in my life and the only way that seems to work is to upscaling discipline and creating writing habits. Writing stuff makes you pay attention to what is going on around you and think about the significance of events. The very small can easily become a realisation and significant.

A year ago I changed some habits. I quit smoking, got up early, meditate every morning, do regular sports of sorts. I achieved this by visualising what I wanted to become. Years ago I imagined myself walking with my two white shepherds early in the morning when everyone was still asleep. It did not happen overnight though, but by keeping the vision and the focus things happen in a seemingly natural way.

Visualising the writing challenge and wanting to write on a daily basis works the same. This morning I sit and procrastinate not knowing what to write, but then letting go of the pressure makes words flow out of the keyboard. It is just like James Altucher writes on Quora: “Some days I can’t think of what to write. But I stare at the screen and write whatever I want. Nobody can stop me.“.

Procrastinating is a habit that made me feel guilty, having the eternal feeling nothing gets done, making me feel stressed and upset. I was always a master in putting everything of to the last minute. Finishing things in the last minute with a stressed feeling gives half baked results and not something to be really satisfied.

Just visualise what is important for you today and all distractions, unanswered mails, will lose importance, so you can focus.

Pause and go!


I Enable

I have always considered community manager the wrong term for the job we, community managers, do in an open source community. A ‘manager’ or a ‘leader’ for that matter can be considered the one person that leads a team or gives direction to a group. Outside of open source this usually works well.  

Community management as I have experienced from a marketing or commercial point of view acts as an interface between managers of a company and aims to protect and maintain the assets and market value of a company. In the Netherlands I visited  a community manager meeting where I was a bit overwhelmed with the conclusion I was the only one present from an open source community. Without a doubt we had a lot in common, but I did not experience the spark of crazy devotion to a project as I have seen in the TYPO3 community or for that matter in any other open source community.

I recently got confronted with a demand for clearly stating my opinion on a certain topic. Our community, like most other communities, is a vibrant place to live in and like in real life we have conflicts that heat up and can incinerate whole forum threads with a fire storm. A good dose of cynicism and well meant trolling is part of community and often only shows the concern or dedication community members have for the project. While I am by no means without opinion and find myself easily triggered into an emotional debate I do take a healthy distance from certain topics concerning our community and rather act as a guide then to explicitly state my opinion.

In a community like ours, that is without a benevolent dictator for life, agreement comes through consensus and coming to a consensus takes time. It often does not make sense pushing certain topics and the community is ready to find consensus when it is ready.

Opinions on leadership vary wildly. My favourite interpretation is the supporting one. Support is a style of leadership in which the leader trusts his community, but needs to motivate them to complete a task. So much for what comes along with the “manager/leader” title and is often interpreted like acting ‘like a boss’ and calling the shots.

While thinking about how I got started I recall how the TYPO3 Association, as it was some five years ago, recognized the need for someone that has the ‘Big Picture’. The community had grown so big and there were many different individual and team efforts started without any central communication. When I first started on a budget four years ago, in my ignorance, I coined my job product management. Something did not feel right and after a lot of googling the internetz I found the likes of Jono Bacon (community manager for Ubuntu - Canonical) and that there is something like a community manager.

Still the term manager did not feel right to me the past years. That’s when it dawned on me, I’m not a leader or manager, I’m an enabler. I connect people in the community, remove bottlenecks or other obstructions and ‘enable’ community members to get their initiative, group or team going.

Calling it enabler also makes it a lot easier for other community members to relate to and be an enabler themselves helping community members do the thing they love. The more I think about it, the more I love it. it removes the formality from the manager title and sets focus on what the true heart of the TYPO3 community is, ‘Inspiring People To Share’.

Our community is already great with the recent developments growing into a family of products under the umbrella of the TYPO3 project and we have a bright future ahead of us with all the experience we have ingrained in our community. Some people / initiatives just need that one little push, that pad on the shoulder or that acknowledgement of being ‘Member of the TYPO3 Community’ to go for it.

That is something I love doing, finding motivated people, being open, listening, connecting community members to each other and the nice thing is that we can do that anywhere, anytime.

As a community we have a huge potential just waiting to be uncovered. We just need to be ready to listen and pay attention.

Tags: community