A deer on ice

A lightening talk about the fear of joining in, given at DjangoCon Europe in May 2013




My name is Mark Steadman, and sometimes I feel - like certainly now - like a deer on ice, just kind of panicking, scrabbling around.

I'm on my own here in Poland, I'm blind, so this is all quite a fun little experience trying to get my head around the place, and I'm going to try and battle through this really quickly as time is of the essence.

One of the really nice things I've discovered about Poland is that I really like pierogis. And this is a cat that looks like a pierogi.

Pierogi cat

So obviously that's got to be done.

Don't clap, you're eating up my time!

But I have a problem, obviously. I suck at people stuff. I'm really bad; I can sort of manage like a group of 5, 10 people maybe, and after that I just start to panic and everything just becomes "huh?" and I'm really frightened and geeky and scared and shy.

And that also means that I kind of suck at communities. I've been doing a fair bit on the web for ages and have never really been part of anything. So to give you a little bit of background: I've been using Django since around 2009. In 2010 I was number 6 in Django Dash, and that was a project that I was basically the sort of lead solo guy; all the other guys were teams. And also I built in 2008 and refactored something called TweetPaste which got used by the Guardian in the UK and was recognised by Twitter.

So I say this not as some kind of boasting thing. I'm merely trying to say that I do stuff, but I'm sort of really crap at being... at joining in.

The thing I'm doing at the moment is something called Nymbol, and it's a mobile CMS for physical objects. And I've got a toolset that I've built called Bambu Tools, and it's basically just this gargantuan list of reusable apps that do basically... I had a raft of ideas for ages, of stuff that I wanted to build and I would have all these little ideas, and I started building up this massive toolset that meant I could just go bang out an idea and all I had to build was the idea itself. And if I wanted to productise that or commoditise it, I could really easily, because I had everything, theoretically in place without much configuration.

And the problem is, I'm kind of a nice guy, right? I try and do things the right way. But we have some issues. So please don't attack me when I say that I've got these things, there's no internationalisation which means there's no localisation, there's no documentation, there aren't any tests; there's all these things wrong with it, and that's simply because I haven't yet been at the stage where I'm thinking I want to contribute to the community; this is just stuff that's run for me.

Now I know that that's kind of unacceptable, but what I'm sort of trying to do now is to stop doing it wrong and to start making a promise, and so I wanted to make a little promise.

This is a little video I made ages ago and it incapsulated this feeling of hope and if you give hope a helping hand, then it can achieve some awesome things. So there's been a lot of talk at this conference about how the Django community and Python communities are fantastic and inclusive and there are great things we can do and I want to really be a part of that, so obviously I've signed up for the introduction to committing tomorrow, at the sprints, so I'm going to do my utmost to be a real, functioning, valuable member of the community. So thank you very much.