I’m in Arica, Chile, for the 8o. Encuentro Linux, which will last until tomorrow. I arrived on Wednesday, and my first impression of the country was very accurate to what you see on the map: the sea, a small piece of land – actually, sand – and the mountain. I kept wondering, in the airports I made connections, where were the cities. Hidden, apparently.
Arica is 18km away from Peru, and it used to belong to Peru before. The conference happens in different cities each year, and this year is time for Arica. The city has about 185,000 people – although people from here believe it has around 400,000 🙂 It has one of the oldest signs of civilization ever, in some embalmed mummies dated in 10,000 years – really. The city also have a statue of Christ looking at the sea, which symbolize the end of Chile’s war with Peru. The next city in Chile is Iquique, 400km away from here…
Besides all that, the University of Taparica holds and sponsor the conference, as well as Intel 🙂
I gave two talks in a roll yesterday. The first is the most trick one, called “Technology Innovations through Open Source”, about Intel’s Open Technology Center projects, and why Intel invest on those. It is trick when I present it to a conference aimed to community. If I sound too “marketing” or “sales”, as I see many companies doing it many times, people won’t listen to me the same way. And I need to be very honest, in the meaning of partnership – yes, Intel is partner with Microsoft big time, sure. But I do find out that putting this honestly makes people understand that the company makes efforts for all operating systems, and that is good to have such a big company as Intel involved and welcoming the FOSS community to participate in the projects. The one that always gets more attention is Moblin, cause I demonstrate it by showing a UMPC running it. So people can test, touch it and even find some bug – it is a development version, after all. But the LessWatts also fits very well. I got lots of questions, lots of people took pictures with the MID. I’m thinking about writing to corporative executives about how to talk with the community, since several of them reported they just don’t get it. My first advice is simple: be honest. They will see it and appreciate.
The second one was the “Is FOSS a Macho thing? Women and FOSS”, which is probably around the thirty time. What surprised me was the huge audience, and people stayed until the very end of the questions, which took I think almost another hour. We had few women in the audience, but the men also were very enthusiastic about applying my tips for helping. Two of them actually asked me to write a little note to their wife and girlfriend, inviting them to know free software and realize it is not just a boys thing. I invited mostly people to join Linuxchix, Debian Women, Ubuntu Women or any other group, but specially Chicas Linux, which is a community for people from Hispanic countries. By the way, Chicas Linux now are also listed as a Linuxchix chapter, which makes me very happy. Back to the talk, some guys told the experiences they have at home with they daughters totally addicted to computers – running Linux, of course. Some teachers also reported they find more resistance from women in learning Linux because the women believe that’s a men’s thing. So yes, we also have this false mindset from women too, we need to change it. I believe, as I told them, this can be done by showing the existent groups of women already using and working with Linux, and promoting the idea that is not just a matter of Linux, but it is a new way of understanding technology, and it is not a good idea to be out of technology field in general for the future. The bad thing is as usual, 90% of the questions or comments are made by men. Women, please, speak out loud! Stand up and be counted!
I gave a number of interviews, from radio, newspaper and even a live TV show yesterday morning. Should I had explain the analogy with the exchanging recepies? Not sure… Today I had a half page interview in the local newspaper, quite cool.
Ok, now it is time for try to convince the hotel to let us do a barbecue. We are working on that!