There are some task one keeps pushing from one week to another. Writing a blog article is definitely one of these tasks. I planed to write down my thoughts about the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and the mentor summit in San Francisco, since the day the summit was over. However it took me till today to actually do it.
This article consists of two parts (i already wrote both, really!). This (the first part) is about GSoC and the mentor summit in general. The second part will be published on Wednesday and is about my thoughts how a organisation could improve participating the GSoC.
GSoC!? What’s it and Why?
Some of you may already know about GSoC, but some of you may have no idea why Google invited me to San Francisco. This is how the “summer” works and why I went to SF:
Every year Google invites students to participate and contribute to Open Source projects. The basic idea: Google is giving stipends to students to work (write code) for three month on a task for an Open Source project. Google calls it the “Google Summer of Code”. Many small and some really large open source projects (Mozilla, Apache, Kernel.org, MediaWiki, Git, TYPO3, Drupal, …) apply to the programm. Actually every Open Source project can apply. Once the organizations are “accepted” by Google, students from all over the world can apply with the organizations by handing in proposals and ideas on what they want to work on during the summer. The organization (in my case the TYPO3 Association) provides a bunch of mentors which decide and vote on the proposals. Depending on the number of student proposals and available mentors of the organisation, Google decides how many students are going to work on their suggested projects. For TYPO3 this year we got six “slots”, which means six projects/students.
Each student has at least on mentor assigned. There can be a co-mentor too. The mentor should guide the student in his project, bring him into the community and also evaluates the student’s work. Only if the student passes the mentor’s evaluation (there is a mid-term and a final evaluation), Google pays the student for his work.
This year 1115 students and 175 organizations took part. Doing a little math: 1100 Students; 5000US$ each; plus 500US$ for each mentor; plus uncounted T-Shirts; plus the Mentor Summit (which is free for all participating mentors). In sum that’s a lot of money! Just the students stipends are worth 5.500.000 US$. By what I heared it’s the largest single budget spent on supporting Open Source projects by one company.
The Mentor Summit
At the end of the summer, Google invites two mentors from each organization to meet up in Mountain View near San Francisco to exchange experiences. That’s the GSoC Mentor Summit. It takes place at the Google Campus – also known as Googleplex – for two days, organized as a “unconference” (kind of like a BarCamp). 350 mentors were invited this year.
As I was mentoring Pascal Jungblut on his FLOW3 Browser project this year, and it happens that no other of us six mentors for TYPO3 had time to go, it was just lucky me who got the chance to go to the summit.
Beside San Francisco being a great city to visit, it was summerly in mid of October and I had far too little time to visit the city (see my photos), I had a great mentor summit.
As it was an “unconference”, the event started with a planning session. People suggested sessions and topics to discuss for the next two days. On these two days more then 60 sessions took place. Up to 15 in parallel. Unfortunately there is no way to join every session you’re intrested in.
The sessions, the discussions, the talks in between outside in the sun, during the meals, in the chocolate room or at the pool party in the evening, meeting so many different people… It was a really inspiring event! It was a little bit like the TYPO3 developer days back in 2009 in Elmshorn, just not focused on one specific topic (like TYPO3 development), but more general, more widely.
When I said “inspiring” I mean I had the chance to reflect on how we did this summer, realizing that others had the same issues and getting ideas how to improve it in the next year.
“You’re are doing it wrong”
Actually TYPO3 did not do it wrong the way we participated in the Summer of Code. But i think we can improve here and there. But that’s the second part of the story.