Gathering of the Mentor Minds

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The sixth annual Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit was held Saturday and Sunday, October 22rd and 23th, 2011 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Over 285 mentors and organization admins from over 145 Open Source organizations attended, again demonstrated how vibrant, creative, and productive Free and Open Source (FOSS) community members are.

Picture taken by Arthur Liu

This was one of our largest gatherings of mentors yet and it produced 62 diverse sessions over the course of a two day “unconference.” Topics included:
  • Community building and successful Google Summer of Code how to’s
  • Open Source gaming
  • Git and submodules for large projects
  • Humanitarian FOSS
  • Teaching with Open Source
  • Recruiting long term contributors
  • … and many more
Conference attendees actively participated in the event — organizing sessions, solving logistical issues, cleaning up rooms, and generally pitching in to keep things running smoothly.

Friday Night Meet and Greet
  • Mentors began arriving on Friday and in the early evening attended a meet-and-greet party by the hotel pool, where old friendships were renewed and new ones were formed.
  • Large quantities of Thai food and refreshing beverages were consumed by mentors amid sounds of laughter and some decidedly technical conversations.
  • Mentors turned in relatively early, as two very full days of excitement lay ahead, and considering the distances many had travelled to attend, sleep was very welcome

With the success of the chocolate session at last year’s Mentor Summit this year an entire room was reserved for participants to bring their favorite chocolates from their country and share with the group.

The response was staggering! Hundreds of pounds of chocolate from all over the world were brought for everyone to sample. From dark, milk, and white chocolate and lots of chocolate hazelnut goodness to unusual offerings such as fish chocolate (it must be an acquired taste), anything your heart desired resided somewhere in that glorious mound of chocolate.

Picture taken by Robert Kaye

Saturday Highlights
  • Saturday morning breakfast and lunch at Charlie's Cafe at the Googleplex. Great fuel!
  • Saturday welcome and unconference session selection process - A surprisingly efficient way to schedule conference sessions, with good humor.
  • Sessions were interesting and well-attended. Notes from many sessions are on the Mentor Summit wiki.
  • We received our orange 2011 Mentor Summit t-shirts!
  • Saturday night back at the hotel, massive amounts of pizza (and quite a bit of beer) was consumed while equally impressive amounts of social and technical networking was going on in the lounge, in the pool and hot tub, and at tables all around the pool.
  • Live musical entertainment was provided by Bart Massey, David Percy, myself, and lots of people who sat in on guitar, bass, and keyboards. Thank you all!
Sunday Highlights
  • Many more great sessions!
  • The Google on-site store was open for business both days and many summit attendees loaded up with top quality swag!
  • The summit wrap-up session was built around the question "How can we make the Mentor Summit better?" Many interesting suggestions were discussed during this introspective, conversational talk, and will no doubt be incorporated into future Mentor Summits.
Some things we learned about ourselves:
  • We are part of an incredibly creative, energetic and self-motivated community.
  • Given minimal structure we are able to create a productive and enjoyable event.
  • Magic happens when so many passionate, productive FOSS community members meet in one place with the space, time, and infrastructure to network and create together.
  • We can squeeze a lot of practical work and good fun into just two days.
  • One attendee described the Mentor Summit as "a rare place where pretty much everybody understands what you're talking about when you discuss code and community."
Major Thanks:
  • To the Google Open Source Programs Office for providing the venue, meals, travel reimbursements, and local transportation for the weekend.
  • Special thanks to Carol Smith, Cat Allman, Stephanie Taylor, and Wolf Bergenheim, for all the time, energy and care they put into this event.
  • To the OSUOSL for ongoing hosting of the Google Summer of Code Wiki.
  • To all the organization Mentors and Admins who attended, for making this another productive and fun Mentor Summit!
  • To everyone who has supported Google Summer of Code through the years -- you have made a big difference in countless ways!
We’re already looking forward to next year!

By Marty Connor, Mentor, Etherboot Project