This year I gave a talk at FOSDEM, summarizing our work on the Guix bootstrapping for RISC-V, so I decided to get a couple of free days more and also visit the Guix Days, that where happening before the FOSDEM itself. Let’s do a short summary of my experience here.
I visited the Guix Days but not full-time because I wanted to spend some time in Brussels itself, rather than being locked in a place for the whole day.
We had some interesting discussions about Guix, the most interesting for me was the Guix Governance, where we discussed how Guix is managed and how it works internally in a social level. This discussion was specially important for me as an external contributor because I believe Guix has a complex but opaque internal structure that is difficult to grasp from the outside. Being in places like the Guix Days themselves let’s you understand it but it’s our responsibility to make Guix accessible for people that doesn’t have time to come to these kind of events.
I say all this because I’m basically that person. I don’t enjoy this kind of events that much and I feel I was a little bit forced to be there to be a little bit more than a random string in the IRC chat.
I had the chance to be there, but it was an effort to me. I’d like it not to be the same for others.
It’s not like I’m an antisocial, in fact I feel I’m a very social person, but I don’t like the politics of things and this event, more than anything else, I felt it was a political event where I had to be just to show up.
This is not just a Guix problem. Most large enough project fall into this kind of dynamic, where people that show up are better considered that those who don’t. It makes sense (this is how the world works), but at the same time it doesn’t (I don’t like how the world works).
We arrived FOSDEM on Saturday. It was literally impossible to do anything there. It was basically supercrowded. We tried to watch some talks, all were full. Waited for a long queue to enter one and we didn’t have the chance to enter in the end and we decided to leave. We had a nice day in the city instead.
Sunday morning I gave a talk. Sunday was way better: we could walk around and do things but we spent the morning in the Declarative and Minimalistic Computing Devroom until my talk happened. After my talk, we watched a couple more there and left for a very good lunch.
I think the talk went well, but I’ll leave further judgement to you. Feel free to watch and send me feedback if you like to do so.
In a personal level, traveling (taking flights and all that…) is mentally exhausting for me, and it’s also expensive. I don’t feel like I would do this often in the future, as I didn’t do it in the past.
Also, I don’t enjoy geeky events like these that much. I don’t use Guix or any other software as a part of a tribe, I just think it’s useful. I enjoy other kind of social interactions more. I just felt like an outsider in both events, but I don’t really want to become anything else than that. I don’t feel comfortable with becoming “part” of anything. I believe software is not a cult, and everyone should have the freedom to contribute and enjoy in a purely practical way, with no identities involved.
Also I felt like people around those higher latitudes are colder, they laugh less than I do and they don’t have the boiling blood that I have. Maybe that’s why my talk made people laugh and react. There’s nothing wrong about that, culture is always cool, but the culture mismatch I felt it was a little bit of a barrier.
Apart form all that, I had the chance to visit a cool city with my significant other and with my friends, who came to support me in my talk and enjoy a conference. We probably didn’t enjoy the conference that much, but I experienced being surrounded by people that love me and had a lot of fun with them, and that’s more valuable than anything else.
On the other hand, I don’t need FOSDEM for that. I feel grateful for my people every single day of the year.
Don’t expect to find me in many geek events like these, but I don’t totally discard showing up from time to time.