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Re: Figuring out the mission



I've removed my name from the subject line, since I'm not the subject
being discussed here.  No offense meant, no harm done.

On Thu, 2007-02-22 at 15:03 -0500, John Baer wrote:
> Hello Paul,
> 
> The subject of your email is very appropriate but the content really
> doesn't shine much light on the issue or provide comfort to the team.

I simply wanted to open a discussion about "What can/should we do?"

> Let me start by stating the obvious. Prior to February 13th the Art
> Team was a fully functioning Open Source effort; vibrant, active, and
> filled with discussion. Effort in progress was posted to the wiki and
> feed back was solicited from the community. 
> 
> Checking the pulse of the team of late I would say its pretty much
> flat lined with little or no activity as a direct result of the
> actions from Red Hat.

Is that a conscious decision of people not to participate, or are they
just holding back based on confusion?  Pardon my eternal optimism, but
every day's a chance to turn that around.

> > This decision is based on a number of factors, not the least of
> which is 
> > the involvement of thorny issues of trademark, branding, and the
> polish
> > demands from both inside and outside the Fedora Project. 
> 
> Why did Red Hat feel the need to steal what we already agreed to give
> them? 
> 
> Other than the fact we started earlier, the processed was the same
> used for fedora core 6 and to my knowledge a stated concern was never
> brought forward. Assuming the above issues are real, why didn't
> someone from Red Hat post them to the list server?. Was there really a
> need to secretly take the effort of the team off line and continue
> development behind behind closed doors? 

You're asking me questions I have no way to answer other than what I've
told you.  I don't work for Red Hat, and I haven't talked with the
people in question.  I can tell you with all sincerity that Max and Greg
tried very hard to get the Desktop team to either (1) fully engage the
Artwork community, or (2) engage the Board with a discussion of where
they thought a line should be drawn for that engagement, and why.

> > But unfortunately, we haven't been completely successful, and to
> make a long story short, > we've had to concede the default release
> theme work to the Desktop group inside Red
> > Hat.
> 
> Is fedora sponsored by Red Hat or owned by Red Hat?

Red Hat pays the majority of the bills and has a substantial interest in
what happens with the Project.  That being said, there is no Fedora
without the community.  Fedora is more than just a bunch of software,
it's also an experiment in what can be done in an open source community.
Experiments are sometimes wildly successful, and sometimes, well, not so
much.  It's my hope -- and I think I speak for everyone on the Board --
that this one can find an avenue of success despite recent setbacks.

> Under what authority does fedora operate and what authority does Red
> Hat have over fedora? The decision to pull back the artwork effort was
> completely unilateral. The impression I received from folks who
> occasionally posted messages to the art team list server was to push
> the envelope. IMO the actions of Red Hat in this matter is a direct
> reflection of the "golden rule of business". That is to say "he who
> has the gold, rules". 

I'm not going to argue with you about motive, but the effect was
definitely chilling.

> > But the default theme is not all there is to the Artwork project.
> There are many things left to > do, including the Echo icon set.
> Redesign and new art is needed for the Wiki, infrastructure >
> applications, the "Some Day Soon" Plone site, and so forth. In
> addition, Fedora is not 
> > limited to just the default release art.
> 
> +1
> 
> Does Red Hat really support open source or is it just lip service?

OK, let's not engage in hyperbole, please, it's really
counterproductive, and in this case just plain silly.  Let's focus on
ways for the Artwork project to be successful.  I have some suggestions
down the page a bit.

> I agree there is much more to do but the question now becomes why? If
> open source doesn't work for fc7 default, why would it work for
> anything else? IMO a three alarm fire bell should be sounding loudly
> across the fedora community as the message is clearly who will be
> next? 

Things not working in Artwork right now don't encompass every other part
of the project.  For example, in the Docs Project we are having what I
think are substantial (and occasionally wild) successes.  Likewise for
Extras, which has literally changed the workings of Fedora, much for the
better in a lot of people's opinions, both inside and outside Red Hat.

> > In addition, Fedora is not limited to just the default release art.
> As part of the initiative to 
> > give users the ability to spin their own distributions built on
> Fedora, we'd like contributor art > to be able to function as a
> drop-in RPM package replacement for the default release art.
> 
> Second fiddle has always been a choice.
> 
> Users have always had the ability to change artwork to meet their
> personal desires. If this was the your reward for the concession then
> you didn't get much.

Well, I was trying to salve hurt feelings here, but I can see that
didn't work too well.  I agree it's not really a concession at all, but
I'm not looking to the Desktop team for validation.  They've done good
work, I'm just not satisfied that it's in a community spirit.  On the
other hand, without the help of highly skilled artists, I don't see that
particular avenue as really being worth the effort.  As I said, there
are other things to do.

> > To ensure that I do this as well as possible, and that your ideas
> are heard, understood, and > fairly represented, I invite your
> comments, criticisms, and ideas.
> 
> If you bring a problem to the table, bring a solution.

I have suggestions too, but I'm not going to pile everything at once
into a heavy-handed missive that might stifle other ideas.  Thanks for
contributing yours below, after which I will be happy to state mine.

[...snip...]
> So here are my suggestions on moving forward.
> 
> 1. Define in very clear terms what authority Red Hat has over Fedora.
> Is it sponsorship or is it ownership? 

The Fedora Project Board has authority over Fedora when it comes to
project governance, formation, and continuance.  Red Hat owns
trademarks, branding, and for now, the majority of the purse strings.
Let me be very clear about this, speaking now as a Board member and not
just as a fellow Fedora community member:  We are attempting to salvage
the Artwork project from what otherwise would be dissolution.  I am
trying to enlist your help and the help of others who want to see the
Artwork project contribute value to Fedora and to FOSS.  If we fail
again, it is not likely this particular subproject will survive.  That
will *not* mean the end of Fedora as a whole, although certainly many
people, including me, will be disappointed by it.

> 2. Bring additional structure to the process. I've jotted down my
> thoughts here.
> 
> http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/JohnBaer/ArtProcess

This is good, and much of it flows from the Board's project policy which
has been in place for some time:

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/DefiningProjects 

Do we have any idea how many active contributors are in Artwork at this
time?  Is it enough to warrant a steering committee?  Most of the major
subprojects have one.  Needless bureaucracy can be stifling, but if more
governance is necessary to track schedules, we should move forward with
that.  I'd bet there are multiple opinions on this topic...

> 3. If fedora is going to be open source then fedora needs to do open
> source. Bring the default artwork back to the team and assign Diana as
> the project lead. It's always been Diana's call on the default and I
> would expect that role to continue. 

I would hope Diana feels welcome and empowered to lead the Artwork group
for that initiative.  She works for Red Hat, and I have no absolute
authority over her.  I encourage her to step in with *HER* solution for
this particular issue.  I cannot and will not, however, waste time with
issues that Max and Greg have already tried their best to resolve,
however unhappy anyone is with the result.

> 4. Start rebuilding trust with an apology from the Red Hat desktop
> team posted to the list server. 

You're talking to the wrong person again.

> 5. Re-craft the art team's default wiki page to better communicate its
> purpose and it's relationship to other teams such as marketing and
> infrastructure. 

We all have edit rights; once there's an agreement on the answers, I'm
all for it.

Now, here are some more suggestions for directions that I think are
worthwhile for Artwork.  Remember how you said to bring some solutions?
Here you go:

* Dispatch teams, where one or more artists work with a specific group
to fill an artwork need, such as the Infrastructure or Website folks for
web apps or the wiki, Marketing for posters and other paper-type
distribution, Docs for publication styles....  Requests could be made by
those teams on a simple Wiki page and filled by interested folks, like a
short-order queue (q.v. Free Media).

* Working with development folks to figure out how we can have a drop-in
replacement for branded stuff like default theme graphics.  Then anyone
is free to create theme work and have it packaged for inclusion in the
Fedora repositories, and distro spins can take their choice.

* More work with Tango, in keeping with the general Fedora commitment to
collaborating on changes upstream, as opposed to rolling our own.  There
are great artists working there already, and teaming up with them is a
no-brainer.  Máirín already passed on a great idea here about
customizing SVG with CSS:  http://live.gnome.org/AwesomeArtShit .  All
the benefits of Tango, plus a customized Fedora look and palette.

Those are some suggestions for work that could be done starting right
now.  Work with existing communities to achieve results.

-- 
Paul W. Frields, RHCE                          http://paul.frields.org/
  gpg fingerprint: 3DA6 A0AC 6D58 FEC4 0233  5906 ACDB C937 BD11 3717
      Fedora Project:  http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/PaulWFrields
  irc.freenode.net: stickster @ #fedora-docs, #fedora-devel, #fredlug

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