Category Archives: General

A New Chapter at CHAOSS

For my regularly scheduled (once every year and a half) blog post, I wanted to announce that July 3rd is my last day at VMware, and I will be joining the CHAOSS project as their new Director of Data Science


It was really hard to leave VMware after almost 5 years (including my time at Pivotal). The work was fun, and I worked with so many amazing people that I will miss dearly! But as many of you know, I have a deep passion for data, and in particular open source community metrics, so the opportunity to work full time on the CHAOSS project is the dream job that I just couldn’t turn down. I’ve been working in this space for 10+ years with the CHAOSS project, and before CHAOSS, I was working with Bitergia and a variety of open source tools that later evolved into the software that is now part of the CHAOSS project. I’ll be taking July off and then will be starting my role with CHAOSS in August. A big thank you to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for making this possible through the grant that is funding the Director of Data Science position and other CHAOSS project initiatives.

I will be continuing my work on the OpenUK Board and as co-chair for the CNCF Contributor Strategy Technical Advisory Group, which have kept me very busy in addition to my work at VMware and in my role on the CHAOSS Governing Board.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve done quite a few presentations on topics ranging from how companies can work in open source communities to open source health / metrics to leading in open source, which can be found on my Speaking page. The highlight was giving a keynote about growing your contributor base at KubeCon EU in front of an audience of 10,000+, which was amazing and terrifying at the same time! 

In addition to my world tour of conference presentations, I was quoted in a Linux Foundation Diversity Report, won a few awards for my UK work in open source as part of the OpenUK Honours list in 2021 and 2023, and I’ve written a few blog posts since my last post here on my own blog:

On the personal side, Paul and I bought a new house in November, and we have become the people who sit in their back garden and talk about how adorable the squirrels and birds are. Since we live in an area near quite a bit of green space, we have regular visits from foxes and even spotted one badger on our backyard wildlife camera! 

Since I don’t post here often, if you want to keep up with what I’ve been doing, I post occasionally on Mastodon and Instagram.

Speaking, Blogging, and More

It’s time again for my regularly scheduled (once every year and a half) blog post to avoid completely neglecting my personal blog. While I don’t blog often, I do still update my Speaking page on a regular basis, and conferences have really ramped up over the past couple of months! I’ll admit to being really tired of attending boring virtual events, so when the in-person events started back up, I went to all of them! In my rush of excitement about traveling and seeing people again, I agreed to do way too many talks – 10 talks in two months. Here are a few of the topics I’ve been talking about over the past year and a half, and you can visit my Speaking page to get links to slides and videos where available:

  • Navigating and mitigating open source project risk
  • Good governance practices for open source projects
  • Metrics and measuring project health
  • Becoming a speaker and getting talks accepted at conferences
  • Being a good corporate citizen in open source

I’ve also written quite a few blog posts on the VMware Open Source Blog and elsewhere on similar topics:

I’ve also been a guest on a few podcasts: Open Source for Business, a Brandeis webinar on Open Source and Education, Community Signal, and The New Stack. You can also find me as an occasional host for various metrics topics on episodes of the CHAOSScast podcast.

As part of my work on the OpenUK board, I was interviewed for a featured section about Open Source Program Offices in the report, State of Open: The UK in 2021 Phase Two: UK Adoption where I talked about VMware’s OSPO.

On a more personal note, we’ve been doing really well throughout the pandemic. We finally had our first real vacation in Malta, where we relaxed while eating and drinking our way through Malta along with swimming, snorkeling, reading, and enjoying the sunshine. I still keep an updated list of every book I read here on my blog if you’d like to know what I’ve been reading.

Since I don’t post here often, if you want to keep up with what I’ve been doing, I post more frequently on Twitter.

VMware and Other Updates

I realized that I haven’t posted anything in over a year and a half here, but I’ve definitely been busy! The biggest change is that Pivotal was acquired by VMware a few months ago, and I have moved into the Open Source Program Office as Director of Open Source Community Strategy where I continue to work remotely from my flat in the UK. I love my new job, and I get to work with a bunch of really amazing people! While I haven’t been blogging here, I have written several blog posts on the VMware Open Source Blog about building community and strategy.

I’ve been doing quite a few talks at conferences and other events, including some virtual ones, on a wide variety of topics including community building, open source metrics, Kubernetes, and more. Links to presentations and videos where available can be found on the speaking page.

I’m one of the rotating hosts for the new CHAOSScast podcast where we chat about a wide variety of open source metrics topics. I also wrote a post on the CHAOSS blog with a video that talks about how I’m using metrics at VMware to learn more about the health of our open source projects. If you’re as passionate about data and metrics as I am, CHAOSS is an open source community that welcomes contributors of all types, and it’s a fun group of people, so you should join us!

I’ve joined the OpenUK Board of Directors to help promote collaboration around open technologies (open source, open hardware, and open data) throughout the UK. We have weekly presentations that are free for anyone to attend every Friday, and we’re always looking for volunteers who want to help out on a wide variety of committees.

There are also a few other miscellaneous things that I’ve done recently:

I hope to see all of you around the internet, and maybe we’ll even be able to catch up in person after this silly pandemic is over!

Joining Pivotal

I’m super excited to be joining Pivotal on Monday, October 22nd as Open Source Software Strategy Lead within the R&D group here in their London office!

This has been in the works for quite a while, but my UK work visa finally arrived, which makes it official. I also learned that my PhD dissertation corrections were approved, so I’ve had a lot to celebrate in the past week!

My first day at Pivotal will be at the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit in Edinburgh, which is odd timing because of some visa delays, but I’m excited to get started! While I won’t be speaking about anything related to my new job at Pivotal, I will be talking about my Linux kernel research.

And we’re hiring if you want to come work with me 🙂

Consulting Again

Scale FactoryAs most of you know, I moved to London to start working toward a PhD last January. Now that I’m off to a good start on the PhD, I find that I actually miss working, so I’m going to start consulting again.

I’ll be working part-time at The Scale Factory here in London. I’m interested in doing consulting projects related to building communities, open source, data analysis, etc. You can find all of the details on my consulting page. I’m also open to doing other types of projects.

If you are interested in getting my help for any of your projects, please email me:

Lessons about Community from Studio Ghibli

Studio GhibliInstead of my traditional Lessons about Community from Science Fiction (video) talk, I decided to do something a little different for LinuxCon Japan.

The slides from my Lessons about Community from Studio Ghibli talk are available now (with speaker notes) for my presentation on Wednesday.


Communities are one of the defining attributes that shape every open source project, and the people within them are what make communities so special, not unlike how characters like Totoro, Kiki, and Ponyo shape every Studio Ghibli film. The friendship between Ponyo and Sōsuke shows how people from different backgrounds can work together, like people in communities work together, to accomplish more than they could have alone. While we don’t get to travel by catbus or Kiki’s broom, many of us have the opportunity to travel the world interacting with community members. Unfortunately, we have to rely on online participation combined with more traditional methods of transportation. This session focuses on community tips told through Studio Ghibli films. While the topic is fun and a little silly, the lessons about communities are real and tangible.

Learn more

You can visit my speaker page for links to many other presentations from past events, including video where available.

Blogging Elsewhere

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*



  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.
  • MeeGo: I am a full-time employee at Intel and contributing to MeeGo is part of my job.

Newsletters for Your Community

I spend all day working with social web technologies and spend much of my time in an RSS reader and visiting various social websites while email takes a back seat to other forms of gathering information. Plenty of people are just like me, but many others are not. We need to remember that many people, especially those working in corporate environments, spend much of the day in email. We each choose to consume our information in a way that matches our personal work style. No method will be right for everyone, so we need to have options. For any community, you should look at how you can provide updates to people in a variety of formats: RSS, daily / weekly email alerts, and newsletters.

Yes, newsletters are a little old-school, web 1.0, not very sexy, etc., etc. However, don’t underestimate the power of a monthly email newsletter for your community. I’ve had newsletters for most online communities that I’ve managed in the past, and I work with clients to start newsletters for their communities. Newsletters are a great way to get in front of people once a month to update them with new information. They key word in that last sentence is information. If you want people to stay subscribed to your newsletter, you have to provide them with plenty of new and interesting information while keeping the promotional items to a minimum. You’ll know when you’ve swung too far in the direction of sales and marketing because people will not view the newsletter (at best) or will be unsubscribing in droves (more likely).

I have a newsletter for Fast Wonder, which is a blog and consulting practice, not a community, but similar practices apply. I started the newsletter when I began expanding out of just blogging and consulting with some training classes and the launch of my book. I found that many people were having a hard time keeping up with everything that I was doing with Fast Wonder, so I thought that a monthly summary would be a good way for people to consume the best of Fast Wonder. It’s also a great way to remind people that I exist once a month. The reasons for starting a community newsletter are similar.

Why have a newsletter?

  • Deliver important information: Hopefully, you have an active community where people have a hard time keeping up with all of the content. The newsletter is a great way to make sure that your members don’t miss something important.
  • Engagement: People get busy and might drift away from active participation in your community. You want to remind any stragglers that they joined your community for a reason and give them an excuse to return.
  • Recognition: Recognize your community members who have written something particularly interesting or had outstanding participation in some way.
  • Summarize: Use the newsletter to highlight popular discussions or other activity in the community that people might be especially interested in viewing.

This sounds like work. Can I make it easier?

If you spend your month focusing on content, the newsletter can be a breeze to put together. The first one will take a little more time, since you’ll need to come up with a format and theme, but you can make the content really easy.

I generally use a format similar to this one:

  • General Information / Announcements: Anything important enough to put in this section should already be a blog post. Start by thinking about what story or announcement you want to feature. This will be the most important item from the past month and will be your lead story and subject line. Now come up with 2-4 additional items (a total of 3-5 stories in this section). For each one, have a title, a paragraph summary (usually the first paragraph of the blog post), and a link to the rest of the blog post for more information.
  • Popular Content: Use your community analytics package to find the top discussions, blog posts, documents, resources or other activity in your community. This section will have links to the top 5-10 posts.
  • Member Spotlight: This takes a variety of forms depending on your community. This could be one member that you spotlight or a list of the 3 most active community members. Pick something that makes sense for your community.
  • Other Information: Every community is different. You will probably need a section for something specific to your type of community. For developer communities, this section might be recent code releases, bug fixes, or other development status. Some communities have frequent webinars or other special content that you want to feature. In my Fast Wonder newsletter, I use this section for links to articles written by other experts and links to recent research reports.
  • Thank You: Always remember to thank people for reading your newsletter. In this section, I often include links to other ways to get updates (RSS, etc.), and it should always include a way to unsubscribe.

Don’t make your newsletter more complex that it needs to be. Pick a simple template that is unlikely to cause headaches across the million email clients available, and focus on using content that you already created over the past month. Creating great content throughout the month makes it much easier to do a newsletter.

What do you include in your community newsletters?

Big Discount on Yahoo Pipes Class Thursday, May 7

I still have some seats left in my Yahoo Pipes class, so I’m offering them at a big discount ($75 off) rather than letting them sit empty. Register now with the discount code ‘lastminute’ and get into the class for $25 as a freelancer / student or $175 for the corporate types.

The Details:
When: Thursday, May 7, 2009 from 3:00pm – 5:00pm
City: Portland, OR
Location: WebTrends 851 SW 6th Ave., Suite 1600 (no remote attendance)
Learn more: Prerequisites, Course Outline and Information

Fast Wonder Training Classes: Research Phase

I’ve decided to start doing a few training classes in addition to my consulting for companies. Right now these would be in person training sessions in a classroom setting.

I thought it would be a good idea to gather a little data before I start. I created a quick survey with 4 questions about the classes I should offer, pricing, and location (city). I would love to get your feedback on my training programs with this quick survey.

If you want to be notified about future training classes, you can sign up for the Fast Wonder newsletter or subscribe to this blog for announcements.

Take the survey