Sunday, September 5, 2010

Advocacy Revisited

In an earlier post I discussed advocacy. It is past time that I further that discourse with additional anecdotes, examples, repercussions, and prognostications. All without winning an Emmy.

Experiences Past
The previous advocacy meeting did not go as well as expected; only one person attended of the various co-workers and friends that had been invited.  Granted, I have no one to blame but myself since I failed to remind them properly.

However, this yielded an unexpected benefit of minimizing pressure and I viewed this meeting as a practice. You can view the video here.

Additionally, after post meeting reflections I decided to make adjustments to the presentation and slides to improve the experience. The updated slides can be found here.

I now felt better prepared for the following meeting.

Expectations, Both Big and Small
Obviously, one of the goals of the advocacy presentation is to introduce Ubuntu Studio to an unfamiliar audience. But this goal only illustrates just how available and powerful the operating system and applications are.  Only.

But a secondary, and almost equally important, goal is to show just how accessible Ubuntu Studio is.

Huh?  You just said it was available, isn't accessible the same thing?

No, not at all and to address this point let's discuss the computer used in the presentation.

I purchased a very select and specific computer for this advocacy project for two reasons.  Firstly, from a logistical standpoint I wanted a machine that I could transport without having to disassemble my recording setup.  This aspect isn't necessarily pertinent to the project other than as a practicality however.

The second reason, and arguably more important one, addresses the accessibility aspect mentioned above.  This robust and vitalic Dell machine boasted a P4 2.8 GHz processor with 512 MB of memory (later appended with an additional 1 gig) and on-board sound.  Such a beast!

And this beast successfully handles recording and multitracking audio, including significant digital signal processing with Rakarrack.

I used a computer with such low specs that you cannot buy it new but yet contains more technology than the Beatles used to create most of their albums.  Additionally, most people already have computers more powerful and I purchased this one for less than $150 including shipping.

How is this anything but accessible?

Experiencing the Meeting
This time the meeting experienced a significantly larger audience.

I made a flier to give them as a tangible reminder and I reminded them in person in a timely manner.  While I tried to avoid being a nuisance I made sure that the date was in their collective consciousness.

By the way, the flier isn't terribly pretty (I've never considered myself a graphic artists either) but it was made with Inkscape (which inescapably rocks) and you can see the .pdf file here.  To be honest, I'm a little embarrassed by it (although I learned loads about using the Open Clip Art Library) but I want transparency in what I did.  If other see what I did then I hope to encourage others to do the same, especially considering how low I set the bar :P

The meeting went swimmingly and I even had a additional and unexpected attendant; Peter, the thirteen year old brother of one of my co-workers.

Brother Can You Spare A Computer?
I mentioned that I had two reasons for purchasing a computer, but I also had two purposes as well.  The first purpose, coincided with the first reason; I needed an easily transported computer for the presentation.

The second purpose had far more import; to demonstratively till and sow the field of advocacy I would be giving this computer away.

Originally, I had been deliberating between two of my coworkers, but young Peter was chosen to receive the prize computer.

He is younger (and I expect less biased and more likely to attach himself to this), of limited budget, and a member of two bands.  I believe I would have been hard pressed to find more fertile soil to plant a seed for germination.


Future Enterprise
The following week in the office there was significant talk about the advocacy presentation, enough that two additional computers were donated to me. These computers will therefore go to the two coworkers that I had first considered.

The first computer should be completed this weekend and after testing I should deliver it next week.  The second should follow shortly thereafter.

After the second computer I don't know that I will continue this advocacy at this time.  Although, I do have an idea or two for the future.

For some time I have seriously considered trying to form a LoCo in my area.  The Houston LoCo [1] [2] is pretty active but meets usually on the south side of town.  There are many other smaller cities to the north to draw from and I think a LoCo north of Houston has a good chance to be successful.

Also, I have considered setting up a demonstration booth at some of the local music stores.  I believe seeing a live showcase of both Ubuntu Studio's power and accessibility would extremely powerful to introduce Ubuntu Studio to new potential users.  Especially when it can operate on what many affluent Americans would consider a "throw away" computer.

But there are other project and efforts to be surmounted first.
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