Without Fear – A look at speaking at the ACM Reflections Projections 2012 Conference

This past weeked, October 5-7, 2012 was the ACM Reflections Projections 2012 Conference at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).  I was honored to have been asked to speak at this conference and even more so humbled by the amount of students who showed up to hear me speak at 10am on a Saturday morning.  I learned while I was there that 10am was considered early by college student standards. This realization humored me and also made me feel slightly old, but I got over the feeling old part. 🙂

Amber Graner and Stefano Zacchiroli

This event is a student lead event, or what we would consider in F/OSS circles a community organized event.  As someone who has helped organize more events than I care to admit in my adult life, I have to admit this group of students have their act together.  From arranging transportation, overnight rooms, meals and the over all conference itself; they have it down to a science.  Luckily the ACM students have access to the campus and the Computer Science building, but they really made the conference educational and enjoyable for the speakers and the attendees.

When I agreed to give a talk I had an idea of what I wanted to talk about, but it was in no way as polished as I wanted it to be and over the next few months added my thoughts and what I wanted to say to an ever growing list of wisdom I wish I had learned from being involved in the Ubuntu and other FOSS commuities. Needless to say I didn’t get to say it all in 45 minutes but I thought I did a good job.  My talk was title: Without Fear – You don’t need permission to contribute to your own destiny! This talk was about the various fears I overcame in these last few years and what I learned beyond the technology that I now apply in my everyday life that makes me a more confident and successful contributor to my personal, professional, and project life.  I had the opportunity to watch the recorded version of my talk this morning (yes they already have it online and available).  I am my own worst critic so I’ll let you decide if the message of “No Fear” shined through or not.

Stefano Zacchiroli and Nathan Handler

The other cool thing was that I asked my parents if they wanted to come with me to Illinois (My dad’s family lives there).  My dad couldn’t, but my mom agreed to go with me and drive most of the way from Union Mills, NC to Urbana, IL.  It was, as some of you who are friends on Facebook might have noticed, a very fun adventure that was had by all. (OK all is just my mom and I, but you get the point).  My mom is a really funny lady with a totally wicked sense of humor.  I think I needed the road trip with my mom, I don’t care how old I get, I believe I will always need my mom, or at least have the need to know she is there and understands.  I also hope that as my kids grow older and set out on their own paths in this world they will have those moments where they just want some time with their awesome and delightful mom.

And finally, I got the opportunity to meet Nathan Handler of Ubuntu Community fame!  Yes, he is real, no he isn’t a bot, nor is he a cyborg. And for those who doubt he’s real, here’s a picture of Nathan with Stefano Zacchiroli (Debian Project Leader).  Stefano spoke at this event too,  and as always it was great to catch up with him and talk about Debian.  Good stuffs!

This was an incredible experience and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to speak and meet the ACM students, the other speakers and attendees.


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