Good community leadership is desperately needed. Too often companies mistakenly think of it as some small adjunct to marketing, an extra channel over which to broadcast messages and through which to generate leads. Likewise product engineering can equally confuse community purpose and disrespect its impact, relegating it as "beta tester" or ignoring its contributions with Not-Invented-Here blinders. We've understood community since before we climbed down from the trees, and we've understood the social dynamics: despite our best intents every village has its idiot and every playground has its bully. But when community in its truest collective sense meets business, we seem to forget all our lessons and expect something to manage with the efficiency and efficacy of a time-motion study in an automobile factory.
This weekend, 18-19 July 2009, marks the first Community Leadership Summit in San Jose, California, at the San Jose Convention Centre (McEnery Conf Centre). Jono Bacon, community leader for Ubuntu at Canonical, Ltd. has done amazing work organizing the event and it promises to be a great opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another. It is a free event in front of O'Reilly's Open Source Conference, supported by a small savvy set of vendor sponsors, but the event is about community development experience and not any one vendor's take on it. While free, one should go to the registration page to register.
Jono has also been busy this past year writing "The Art of Community". He developed it over time in conjunction with the Art of Community blog. I was a reviewer, and I think it's an excellent book covering the breadth of the subject. It will be available in August, and you can pre-order it here.
I was hoping to participate in this year's inaugural summit, but unfortunately I'll not be attending it (or OSCON) for several personal reasons. I will certainly miss friends and colleagues, but trust next week will be as brilliant as always!