Speaker Interview: Dawn Foster


Dawn Foster of Puppet Labs spent a few minutes with the SCALE Team to talk about her presentation, “Lessons about Community from Science Fiction.”

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I'm a geek, community manager, irregular blogger, open source fan, and science fiction lover. I've been working in technology for 18+ years, and since I'm not good at sticking with just one thing, I've done everything from UNIX system administration to market research to community management to open source strategy and more.

I'm currently the Director of Community for Puppet Labs where I manage all aspects of our various communities, including the Puppet open source community. It's been great to be able to use my background as system administrator along with my many years of experience managing open source and other technical communities in my work with Puppet, which is honestly the nicest community of people I've ever run across.

Before joining Puppet Labs, I was the Community Lead for Intel's Open Source Technology Center. I've also been an online community consultant and have worked at Jive Software, and other companies. In effort to not bore everyone to death with my background, I'll just point you to my website if you want more details or contact info: http://fastwonderblog.com

Q: You're giving a talk on Lessons about community from Science Fiction. Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: This really just an excuse to talk about science fiction. Combining it with a legitimate topic (community) is my sneaky way of convincing tech conferences to accept my talk and talking Puppet Labs into letting me come talk about two of my favorite things together <insert evil scientist laugh here>.

But seriously, I will actually talk about how to improve your participation in communities and leadership of communities with a pretty heavy focus on open source communities, since that's my true
love. Hopefully, I'll be able to do this in a way that is also fun and entertaining.

A few examples of what I'll talk about:

* Assimilating new community members into our collective so that their biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance may or may not be futile.

* Open source communities, like the TARDIS, may look small and ordinary from the outside, but look much different (and bigger) when you get inside.

* We can even learn how we should not behave in our communities by taking the Rules of Acquisition and doing the opposite of what a good Ferengi would do.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: I was at SCALE last year, and I loved it! Any time I can hang out with so many amazing geeks for 3 days is a win as far as I'm concerned.

A couple of my favorite things about SCALE:

* All of the community rooms on Friday. We're running a Puppet Camp on Friday, but there are a lot of great talks scheduled in the DevOps and Mentoring rooms along with some great Scale U training that you should check out.

* SCALE has a dedicated youth track, and I'm a big fan of anything that helps get kids excited about Linux and Open Source!

* Don't miss the Weakest Geek on Saturday night! I was on this last year, and it was a blast. This year, I'm looking forwarded to watching people go up against each other in a geek culture smack down.

* There are also a few people speaking that I'm really excited about seeing. Keila Banks (11 years old) is talking about Machinima with OpenShot. Jordan Sissel is always an entertaining speaker, and he's
talking about fpm. Leslie Hawthorn always has interesting ideas, so her keynote should be great.

Overall, it's a great conference, and it's run by an amazing group of volunteers. Since it's run as a labor of love from so many volunteers, please don't forget to thank them for putting in long hours and doing
the massive amount of work required to make SCALE awesome.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: I think I've already been long-winded enough, so I'll just close out by saying that I'm looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend!

[SCALE Team interview by Hannah Anderson]