Sussex Linux User group.

To date I have never been to another Linux User Group. The only group I have attended is my own Sussex Linux User Group. Theres little good reason for me not having attended other groups its simply not been something I got around to. So I have no measure of how well or active ours is in comparison to others. I could take the time to search the archives to see when I first got involved but I am guessing it was around the early 2000s which now that i type it seems quite amazing. When I first attended the group the meetings occurred in a local pub location with the occasional visit to a local offices for presentations. The mail list was active with conversation with topics many and varied with little overview or restriction from the group as to what might be discussed.
In the last few years the group has grown and matured and has retained its usual level of laid back organisation matched with driven involvement from a few core members. We have discussed, and then rejected, the idea of forming a committee instead we have settled on a principal which Steve Dobson and I are still refining. This principal oft quoted by Mr Dobson is the concept of Open Source Development, so let me explain.

Open Source development is as much about peer approval as it is scratching an itch. Many projects begin simply because the developer or contributor simply goes ahead and produces the application or idea. They dont stop to see if the concept has group approval or it it is wanted. Often the applications are written to meet a need and then released to others in case they will benefit from it. In short the software is created and delivered and is left to the community to see if it thrives.

In many ways the approach from Steve and myself towards our involvement in Sussex Linux User Group has been far more hands off. When someone wants to try something or deliver an idea the attitude has been , just do it. Rather than opening every concept with a debate and discussion we would rather see it delivered and done and allow the other members to decide if they will use it or get involved. If ever there was a good example on this it was the BCF meetings and how the group transitioned from Gareth Ablett to Steve Dobson as Lug master. Steve having taken up the challenge set to revitalise the website and to invigorate the group into more action and more local awareness produced a fantastic template website that at once felt informal but also inclusive.

Having now focused on awareness and the website, the Club has focused itself more on using the meetings to present ideas and projects and discoveries from its members. Providing a platform to show and tell and share with other members whom have attended the meeting. The meetings despite their lack of formal structures are now a coherent process whereby we can meet and chat and share the interests in all things open source. Again the activity of the group is driven by the “see it do it” approach which leads to people congregating into areas which they feel they can most contribute or effect. As with any group there are people whom fall towards natural organisers and those who enjoy having access to material and resources without committing to activity within the group. There are many other roles but none are really defined and yet we dont appear to sink towards chaos and anarchy. Amazing.

So this month Im going to take my own experiences and skills and see how I can apply them within Ubuntu-UK community. The UKTeam will be meeting at the Linux World Expo show to discuss how they will be going forward. Speaking for myself ( well its my blog ) im keen to start becoming more involved in the Open Source community beyond the boundaries of my own User Group experiences. See you all there, and ;

Thanks for reading.

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