Bits from the DPL for March 2020

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Bits from the DPL for March 2020

Sam Hartman-3


TL;DR: This mail is for those who say they appreciate getting a feel for
what's going on in DPL land.
At a brief summary level there's nothing new; this is all about the
feely bits.

It's been a long time since I've written one of these.  I'll get to that
in a bit.  But if you haven't read it, my retrospective on my term as
DPL [1] does count as one of my status messages, even if its scope is
bigger than one month.

  [1]: https://lists.debian.org/tsl5zfjex22.fsf@...

I like to start these off by focusing on a couple of cool parts of
Debian.

I actually have. two.
The first really goes back well before March.

I had the pleasure to attend FOSDEM for the first time this year.  And
it was the first time I had seen a major Debian booth setup.  I'd like
to thank Joost van Baal-Ilić, Geert Stappers, and all those who
volunteered at (or stopped by) the Debian booth at FOSDEM.
It's humbling to see all those people interested in what we do.  And
sure, some of them were there for our stickers and swag.  But you show
that kind of interest in swag for things you like.
It was great to see all those people who wanted to say on their shirts,
on their laptops, and in person, "Debian is cool."
And it is.

And it was great to see our community there, helping those folks, and
responding to the questions and interest we had.  I'll single out Thomas
Lange on the question answering front.  I am sure that already knowing
Thomas was one of the reasons I noticed what he was doing, and I regret
not noticing the great efforts of everyone else (or in a couple of cases
simply not remembering your name).
But Thomas was there interacting with folks, soliciting their feedback
on Debian, and trying to direct their  questions to the right places.
Whether it was installing Debian, help about some hardware issue, or
just suggestions for how we could improve, I saw Thomas directing folks.
There were others further down the booth doing the same kind of great
work.

Thank you all, and thank you for letting me be part of this.

And now onto something more pressing and current.
Yesterday, we started our virtual online COVID-19 Biohackathon [2]; it
runs through April 11.

I was so excited when Andreas Tille wrote to me about this, urgently
asking if there was any way we could try and get more interns involved
in Debian med.  Because people were using our stuff, and it was
important, and we wanted to help them out as much as we could.
And so the Debian med community is organizing this online event.

First, it's great to see the Debian community stepping up to world
challenges.  It's also great to be reminded that the work we do in
Debian is important.  People need our stuff: there is sufficient demand
and existing use that it makes sense for us to spend this effort and
that we will be helping the world by hacking on software that can help
with the fight against Covid-19 .

Both of these are just so cool!

  [2]: https://lists.debian.org/20200327195950.GF32306@...

Sheltering in Place
===================

Like most of you, I find myself sheltering in place at home as we
flatten the curve.

Thinking about Covid-19 and what this means for the world has taken up
much of my emotional bandwidth in March.
That is true for many of you that I talked to.
We're all more stressed.  Many of us have found things to do, but under
that surface, there is worry, fear, hope, a desire to protect those we
care about, and a lot of other things.

As was obvious, from my term retrospective and from discussions on
debian-private (and in the news), the last couple of months have been
emotionally tense in DPL land.
I didn't have  the ability to process both Covid-19 and DPL stuff, and
so I reduced some of the effort I spent on DPL tasks in March.
Several things have still been going on, but it was more reactive than
proactive.

For me, social distancing is about the worst thing I can imagine.  I
value connection, compassion and closeness.  I understand that physical
social distancing does not mean emotional distance.  And yet along with
the physical social distancing is fear---a legitimate fear for our lives
(and those of those we care about), fear for the future, and a lot of
other things.  Also, I value touch---whether it's hugs, sitting
comfortably close as I talk, or what have you.
And social distancing inherently reduces that physical connection.
But the fear worries me more: I know I'm not the only one who does find
themselves closing off more emotionally; finding the people and
communities (like Debian) I care about, and distancing myself from
others simply because there is only so much I can care about right now.

And so I worry about what world we'll find ourselves in in six months
from now?  A year?  Two?
Who will no longer be in that world?
Will this be an experience that we all shared separately, that brings us
back together when we can?
Or will this be something we allow  to bring us apart; will we develop a
culture that values distance more?
And like everything from overall health to the economy,  I feel
powerless to influence the world ahead.

I'm sure my specific worries and concerns are different than others.
But I think we're all feeling this in our own ways.
And I wanted to reach out and say that I do care, and we are all in this
together.
I hope that when we can, we do choose to turn this into something that
brings us all together.
My time in Debian has taught me that while we may feel powerless alone,
our combined action does have power.

DPL Elections
=============

I wanted to thank the three candidates for DPL for 2020.
The elections are ongoing, and I look forward to working with the next
DPL.
It's a rewarding job and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

I also want to thank everyone who wrote to me  both in public and in
private in response to my term retrospective.
Your comments really are welcome.
I was saving up for a batch reply to avoid flooding the list, and then
Covid-19 overtook my focus.

Remaining Tasks this Term
=========================

I have three things I'm still hoping to accomplish in April.

1) The Community Team and I have taken the discussions that happened
over the summer and have almost finished a proposed delegation text.
We're struggling trying to figure out how to talk about ongoing
sustainability of the team.  I've asked the delegation advisory group I
set up to help us figure out how to  approach that.  I hope to get text
to debian-project very soon.  Assuming no significant new issues come
up, I think we can even get to  a delegation this term.
If not, we'll have much of the work ready for my successor to consider.

2) I promised I'd write up the last round of Git packaging discussions.
As a reminder, we've already had the consensus discussion, we've even
already had people confirm my understanding.  It's just pulling that all
together into a mail to debian-devel-announce to record the consensus.
I also talked about having a discussion about branch formats.  Now is
not the time for that discussion.  I am going to focus on writing up
what we have not starting a new discussion.

3) I promised pabs to get talks I gave during my term onto
dpl.debian.org.  I need to do that.

I'm sure there are some minor things, and I'll go make a pass through
the unanswered mails to the DPL mail box to see what's still open there.

There may be one final bits mail if there ends up being enough content.

--Sam

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