Picture by theodevil
The Free Software community is a great community, but a bit narrow. Most of the people are geeks and there are many more men than women. Disclaimer: I would consider myself a geek. It is true that the older I get the less geek I am, but during my childhood, my early youth and my University years I was a true geek. And that was almost yesterday…
Artists is a very influential collective, they are one of the best PR any product can get. They influence people, the media and even governments. We need writers writing novels using Ubuntu, musicians making music using Ubuntu and video artists editing their films using Ubuntu.
Designers are also influential. Let’s face it, blogs by designers talk about more beautiful stuff that those of hackers. If you read Planet Ubuntu, a lot of the information there comes in the form of code. On a designer blog you’d rarely see the word branch if they are not talking about trees. Why Ruby on Rails got so much attention? Was because it was the best piece of free software ever? Probably not, but it attracted designers. Designers and developers starting working together using the same tools and they spread the word.
One of the examples I always use for the FLOSS community being too geek is PyRoom. PyRoom is a simple but great distractions-free writing application that, obviously, is coded in Python. I love the application and use it almost on a daily basis, but using the name of the programming language as part of your application is a clear indication that the technology you’re using is as important as the features your coding with it.
I am not saying that we need less geeks in our community, I am just saying that if we want to reach the 200M users goal, we need to have a wider community. And that’s why I backed Novacut on their Kickstarter project. Because they are focusing in talking to film makers as part of their design process. Because they have one in the team. Because I think they could help Ubuntu getting a wider and very much needed community. And they can fail, as anyone can fail, but I think it is worth supporting those brave enough to try. I am looking forward to seeing what Novacut brings.
As a side benefit I think that having a less geeky community will bring more women into free software. I’ve always defended that one of the reasons of the low ratio of women to men in FLOSS communities was mainly due to the geekyness of these communities. For social reasons (or a combination of social and biological ones), the proportion between men and women among geeks is far from the fifty percent. I am not trying to explain why: I am not a sociologist, nor a psychologist, but I think most people would agree that that’s the case. Bring more non-geeks to Ubuntu and women will be among them.