Open technology and culture: more than open source!

Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier wrote about the Ada Initiative’s activities in 2011 and plans in 2012 on on Tuesday. Part of his article discussed the scope of the Ada Initiative:

Beyond Open Source

Though [Mary] Gardiner and [Valerie] Aurora were both heavily involved in the [Free and Open Source Software] community before the Ada Initiative, the initiative is meant to focus more broadly on “open technology and culture.” Gardiner says that the project will ramp that up in 2012. “Obviously one of the key early steps is getting to know other communities better, and finding out from them what support they need. Our first concrete initiative in this respect will be AdaCamp Melbourne, an unconference that focuses on.women in open technology and culture generally rather than open source specifically.”

We wanted to go into this in a bit more detail here, as the Ada Initiative is often described as a “women in open source” organisation, partly because of Valerie’s and Mary’s backgrounds and partly because women in open source software has been such a visible issue within that community, given its extremely skewed gender ratio.

But open technology and culture includes so much more! We include in our definition Creative Commons and free culture; Wikipedia and other wiki projects; open data; open standards and the open web”; open education; remix, mashup, and creative fan culture; online activism and more.

The Ada Initiative may have its roots in advocacy for women in open source specifically, but the Initiative remains committed to broader advocacy for women in open technology and culture. In 2011 we’ve done some work with other communities this year, in particular Valerie has been involved in the Wikimedia gender gap discussions that arose out of their findings about the gender ratios in Wikipedia contributions.

We’re planning to ramp that up over the next year and in the future. We’ve always recognised the need to work with experts from other communities who know how the community works and where resources and assistance are needed.

We’ve actively sought to involve women from open technology and culture fields in our governance structure. Our board of directors has several representatives from outside open source, including Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, and Denise Paolucci, who founded an open source project after years of involvement in online community management and transformative works fandom. Our advisory board includes Alex “Skud” Bayley who is involved in fandom and free culture; Francesca Coppa of the fandom non-profit the Organization For Transformative Works; Sumana Harihareswara from Wikimedia and technology management; Leigh Honeywell who is involved in the security and hackerspace communities; and Sarah Stierch whose is involved in bridging Wikimedia and cultural institutions.

Our next step in reaching out to open technology and culture communities we aren’t working with yet are the AdaCamp events. The first AdaCamp is scheduled for January 14 in Melboure, and we’ve already had interest in AdaCamp from Australians involved in hackerspaces, wiki culture and digital liberties activism.

We’re going to follow up AdaCamp Melbourne with other AdaCamps. The next one will likely be in the USA to coincide with Wikimania or another large open culture conference. In the longer term, if there’s sufficient interest, there will be an AdaCon, a full-scale conference on the same subject. In the meantime, we will be working with activists in different communities on their specific support needs.

How you can work with the Ada Initiative

We’re always actively looking for women and other activists from other communities who would like to work with us. Once we have strong connections within a wide variety of communities we will work with individual communities based on their needs, as well as continuing to grow cross-community links.

If you’d like to work with the Ada Initiative on supporting women in any open technology and culture field, there are several ways to get involved right now.

Coming to an AdaCamp is a high bandwidth way to get involved in our planning: you can connect the Ada Initiative and other activists to your community and its specific goals, structure and . Apply for AdaCamp Melbourne, or watch our homepage or announcement email list for future AdaCamps.

If you want to work with us in an ongoing fashion, you should join our open supporters list, where we discuss and review our plans and seek feedback from our most interested supporters. Participants in the supporters list will be considered for the advisory board once they have worked with us for some time.

Finally, in order to support our full-time work on supporting women in open technology and culture, consider donating to our campaign.

Donate now!