Yep, it’s a bold statement to make, but I like to live life in capital letters. Last week at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention was truly epic. The Community Leadership Summit + OSCON 2009 epitomized everything I’ve ever wanted to do in community as a Microsoft employee.

I didn’t realize how special last week was until we Microsofties went out to dinner on the last night. As we discussed how much interest there was in the guitar hero competition, someone commented how we (Microsoft) were invited to participate to play. It was Ubuntu’s idea to put together the competition. We provided the guitars and the venue. When I first heard my coworker’s comment, I nearly rolled my eyes thinking I was listening to classic PR/marketing talk (yes, I’m obviously a proud female developer), but then the significance of the statement hit me.

Community is about focusing on what we have in common, while putting aside what makes us different. The Community Leadership Summit and the Guitar Hero competition gave everyone common ground to come together and talk. I’ve done community for Visual Studio and for CodePlex my entire 8 years at Microsoft, but I’ve always wanted to engage with the open source community to say “Hey ya’ll. This is what I do at Microsoft. Come teach me your expertise, and I’ll share what life is like promoting OSS within Microsoft.”  For a total of 7 days, I was given this opportunity, which was truly one of the greatest weeks of my career at Microsoft.

Highlights

  • When I grow up, I want to be like Jono Bacon, the Community manager for Ubuntu. I want to be cool enough to organize an event like the Community Leadership Summit. I cannot wait for his Art of Community book to come out. @JonoBacon I know you hate me for beating you in the guitar hero finale =) but please sign my copy of your book when it comes out.
  • "Don’t cut people off before they have a chance to grow.”  This comment from the CLS had the biggest impact to me personally.
  • Empower people by asking them “what do you like doing? what do you do best?” This comment from the CLS had the biggest impact to me as a program manager / community manager.
  • Larry Rosen remembered me! I attended a talk by Larry Rosen a few years ago on the Microsoft campus. I was surprised that he had remembered me from such a brief introduction years ago. But then again, there are not many 5’1 women on crutches hobbling around declaring how they are going to tame the Microsoft Legal department. (don’t ask me how that’s going.)
  • I learned a lot outside the Microsoft platform bubble. Working in Redmond day in and day out, I’m not really exposed to much going on in the outside world. I had a great time visiting the various booths to learn what’s out there. Oh yeah, and there really is an OSS version of Guitar Hero called Frets of Fire. Who’d a known?
  • The guitar hero competition. I will *never* forget when, right as Jono and I were about to play in the finale, someone screams “JONO! THE FUTURE OF OPEN SOURCE DEPENDS ON YOU” OMG, that was a top 5 moment of my career right there.

Best Opposing t-shirt photo op

"I am the empire" and GPLv2 t-shirt guy

New friends from CLS

folks from Community Leadership Summit

Little Kid rockers

little kids rocking guitar hero

Putting together guitar hero bracket

ubuntu folks putting together the bracket

First comes denial in who won the guitar hero competition

the look of shock

Then acceptance =)

the look of acceptance

See ya’ll at OSCON 2010!