LUV President's Report to the Annual General Meeting, September 2011
The role of President from September 2010 to September 2011 period was initially one of accident; in my role as Public Officer I attended the Annual General Meeting and left the evening as President of the association. Thrown into this somewhat unexpected role I set as a priority ensuring that we had speakers for our LUV-main and LUV-beginners events, which was achieved quite quickly. Previous experience on the committee indicated that there is nothing worse than a last-minute panic to find speaker. Whilst this was largely successful for this year, the emphasis and pressure has not been kept up and it will be a matter that the committee will have to address again in the near future. Ideally, we should always have several months worth of speakers planned in advance, and with a small pool of individuals who can take a place with minimal notice.
Another matter I wished to avoid is problematic behaviour on our mailing lists and to a lesser extent at meetings themselves. This has been an issue in the past and we have had some very good people drop out of active involvement due to the content and behaviour. Whilst one can certainly agree with the political right of free speech (and, likewise, an extension of defamation laws to include groups) organisations themselves have the right to determine what is permissible conduct within that organisation. A general principle of keeping communication "friendly and helpful" on our mailing lists will encourage long term participation and give people a sense that they'll be free from harassment and bigotry when they participate at LUV.
Another issue that the organisation has been attentive to this year has been moves towards increased regionalism with a view that LUV must expand beyond its inner city base. An initial action in this direction in 2006, the holding of a mini-conference in Ballarat and the establishment of a local chapter, was so successful that Ballarat is now hosting the Australian Linux Conference next year. A former member of the LUV committee, Kathy Reid, has taken a significant initiative in organising BarCamp Geelong which has led to the establishment of a Geelong chapter of LUV. Some initial efforts (as yet unsuccessful) have been made to build a outer-eastern ("Hills") chapter. Perhaps most surprising however has been a request from members of the Shepparton community for a chapter in that regional city, which will be established next month. In the coming year it is hoped that we build at least another three chapters through the tested combination of BarCamp/Mini-conferences as a the launching event.
On a related matter, earlier this year we engaged in meeting with the Melbourne Linux Users Group (MLUG). In the coming year, it is hoped we will be able to sensibly deal with a demographic issue that faces LUV, being a natural aging among our core membership and, it must be acknowledged, a decline in general meeting attendance. In some ways this will be a return to our origins with a serious attempt to rebuild our presence at the universities. It is from this area, from the university based student computing societies, that our organisation can be regenerated. We have already made some efforts with this with speakers and contacts from the higher education community, especially the University of Melbourne.
A further source of growth can also be made through our networking efforts with like-minded organisations. Although organisationally this has been left a little late in the proceedings for my liking we are hosting and building Software Freedom Day 2011 with an emphasis on building a network of individuals and a plan for the coming year within the diverse range of locations in the free software community; organisations including Melbourne Hackerspace, Ruxmon Melbourne, the Melbourne Python Users Group, Computerbank, the Linux SIGs for the Melbourne PC Users Group, Melbourne Apple Users Group, Melbourne Perl Mongers, Drupal Melbourne, Melbourne PHP Users Group, the Victorian chapter of the System Administrator's Guild of Australia, the Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association, ICT in Education, Victoria, VicNet and the State Library of Victoria, Ruby or Rails Oceania and the Open Source Industry Association.
It is hoped from this networking that LUV can strengthen its strategic planning and procedural efficiency. We will certainly need this is we are going to take on a larger co-ordinating role which seems to be a particular strength of the organisation - and most appropriate too, for an operating system users group to manage the activities of applications users group and programming users groups. More seriously however, we must never lose sight of the valuable role performed by LUGs, providing a support community for those who - against significant odds - have stood up against inferior and proprietary operating systems and have engaged in a process that is changing the world. Please continue with this.
Finally, on this eve of being renominated as President of LUV, I would like to take a moment to thank the committee of management, a sincere and dedicated group of individuals who have made significant efforts in maintaining and building the organisation throughout the year whether it has been through keeping our organisation's finances up-to-date, through helping out in organising speakers at meetings or speaking themselves, or converting video tapes of past presentations to a digital format, or maintaining our library, or helping our at regional conferences. We are all deeply indebted to these fine individuals.
Lev Lafayette, September 6, 2011
I was remiss in not mentioning two other activities that LUV was involved in the past year in which we gained some public prominence. The first was Software Freedom Day 2010, an event which much of the credit must go to the organisers of that event. Held at the State Library of Victoria, this event was so successful that it was recognised as equal first (along with two others) as the best Software Freedom Day event in the world. In addition LUV was strongly represented at the IT Enables conference organised by VicNet with four speakers from our organisation. It was clear among attendees is that Linux is the operating system of choice for the visually impaired and certainly comes with a community that takes such issues seriously.