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[board-discuss] Candidacy: Michael Meeks ...


Hi guys,

Just a quick note to say that I intend to run again for a seat on the
Board of Directors of The Document Foundation.

* Who am I ?

I'm Michael Meeks: Christian, Husband, Hacker, 38 years old,
affiliated with Collabora.  My day job is to try to rapidly grow the
economic ecosystem around LibreOffice for the benefit of all including
Collabora - what that means is encouraging more people to pay for more
features, fixes & goodness to go into LibreOffice. I also love to hack
on the code where I can, and to mentor and include new hackers.

I started poking at the code-base before it was open-sourced in 2000,
and have served with the team creating LibreOffice from the very
beginning in various technical and non-technical roles: inside the
Engineering Steering Committee, as a Board member, and primarily as a
code contributor and evangelist.

* Why am I running?

I'd like to offer whatever benefits a whole career's worth of
experience of mistakes, blunders, failures (mostly my own) and
occasional successes (mostly other people's) can bring to the daily
life of running TDF. I can type at reasonable speed, and write
interactive minutes of calls with reasonable accuracy, helping to make
meeting decisions clear in retrospect. I've also had the privilege of
being involved in the creation, hiring, management & bootstrapping of
several teams of both paid and unpaid developers over the years -
which is perhaps useful as TDF continues to grow and invest.

I also believe it is critical for us to continue to safeguard our
can-do and relational culture, empowering individuals to make friends
and get things done while resisting distrust, un-necessary process
creep and beaurocracy as we grow. One of my priorities is working
towards the goal of being a fluid and adaptive organisation, always
open to new and better ideas, new participants and new and better ways
of doing things.

Finally - I'm a believer in Free Software; while I am critically
interested in ensuring that TDF remains a great place for companies to
invest and sell services around the software I'm committed to making
that the right conditions remain in place for them to contribute
effectively back to the project and work well together with volunteers
around the common codebase.


* 75 word formal candidacy:

I'd love to serve you again on the board: as a Free Software advocate,
with passion for LibreOffice, deep TDF board knowledge, lots of
generic business experience: legal, budgeting, interviewing,
management, yet also eager to keep LibreOffice fun and free. I've a
long history of contribution to different FLOSS communities in various
ways, am currently betting the business on LibreOffice and its
success, but also want to help to grow our volunteer participation.

* Happy to answer any questions of course.

1. Do you commit yourself to have enough time and the necessary
technological tools in order to participate to the regularly
scheduled board calls?

        Naturally.

2. Do you commit yourself to follow up and work on (at least) the
main items and actions you have volunteered to oversee or that have
been attributed to you by the board?

        Sure.

3. What are your views on the foundation's budget? How should the
money be spent, besides our fixed costs?

        I rather like the current ranking scheme, which allows board
members to each give their input - and then produces an average rank
that we sort by against a fixed budget amount. While that sometimes
misses things I care deeply about - it seems to produce a good overall
result. So what would I rank highly ? really hard to say - I think we
need a good balance in the project between all of the different
development disciplines from coding, to QA, to translation,
documentation. We also need to do marketing, NLP work etc. So the
answer changes over time as we identify and plug holes with our
reasonably limited resources.

4. Should we work towards broadening our pool of contributors,
both technical and non-technical?

        Naturally - although my personal focus is on the technical
side - we clearly need more developers, and I'd like us to put
emphasis in our marketing and investment on growing and deepening the
project from a technical, and feature basis: so I'd prefer to invest
in eg. better documentation instead of to-end-user marketing, or in
improving automated QA rather than encouraging large enterprises to
use LibreOffice for free. I think we need to make the project as easy
as possible for new non-technical people to get involved with - and
let them rapidly climb the ladder to core contribution in whichever
part of the project they want to make a difference in.

5. Should the Foundation -as an entity distinct from the LibreOffice
project or the Document Liberation project- engage into growing its
influence and promoting and defending Free Software and Digital
Freedom?  It is, after all, an integral part of its mission per its
very Statutes.  If yes, do you have ideas on what should be done
about this?

        I would say that what we do currently almost by definition
promotes Free Software - but of course we can do more to promote
freedom generally of course. Beyond that, I think that focus is a
non-renewable asset, and that diluting it to the point that we forget
that we're overseeing a group of contributors passionate about
creating LibreOffice (and of course Document Liberation - to not
forget the great work there) is unwise. This needs to be the focus of
what we do: making it better, more fun, more rewarding, and more
effective to get involved in LibreOffice.

6. How do you view your (potential) role as a member of the board of
directors, given that this position does not give you any specific
functional role inside the LibreOffice or Document Liberation
projects?

        It means meetings, annoyance, responsibility, handling
conflict, working on compromises, trying to see the best in those you
disagree with, and all the general pain of day to day political
interaction and oversight. Basically, lots of rather hard work - at
least that's my experience. It can also be fun.

7. What is the biggest problem of the foundation in your opinion?
What is its biggest opportunity?

        I think the biggest risk to TDF is complacency: thinking that
we have already arrived, and becoming cautious of change. In fact - we
are still a factor of 5+ times too small as a community, and need to
invest hard and carefully to grow our market share and relevance.

        Wrt. greatest opportunities - that is pretty obvious to me, to
make LibreOffice -so- good (from a technical perspective), that it
becomes the dominant productivity application worldwide, delivering
both Software and Document Freedom to billions; and in doing so
provide space for jobs, businesses and other opportunities to allow
those who love to work on the project to do so more.

        Thanks for reading this far - if you made it :-)

-- 
 michael.meeks@collabora.com  <><, Pseudo Engineer, itinerant idiot


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