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how decisions are made in fedora art

*NOTE* -- this is a long email, but I hope ultimately that anyone who reads it will find it wasn't a waste of time.

=== Where I am coming from ===

In case some of the folks on this list don't know me, I'm Max Spevack. My job is "Fedora Project Leader" and insofar as that makes me ultimately accountable for everything that either does or does not happen in Fedora, I've been asked by a few different people to jump in on this list and try to help with the decision making process.

I am not particularly active on this list. I am not an artist, nor am I here to tell anyone "this art is good and this art is not as good". I liked the FC5 art. I like the FC6 art. I trust that the Fedora 7 art will also be great.

But what I am interested in is making sure that all of the various Fedora sub-projects are able to make progress, work toward their goals, etc. And to do so in a way that is consistent with the community, meritocracy, etc. ideas of Fedora.

So I shall try to help in that regard.

=== What is Fedora Art trying to do? ===

What is certain to be an incomplete picture:

(1) Develop the different pieces of a desktop theme (icons, backgrounds), ultimately resulting in an "official theme" for each release.

(2) Explore new ideas in icons or fonts, keeping up with the latest developments in the OSS world in this regard. Here I'm thinking about the work that was done in switching our default font for FC6.

(3) Misc artwork as needed, based on whatever the "current theme" is. Here I'm thinking about the artwork for the DVDs, wallpapers, etc.

(4) Legal issues around all of this stuff.

(5) Expanding itself and attracting more talented folks to contribute.

(6) Whatever other stuff I'm not thinking about.

=== Who cares deeply about the results? ===

One source of conflit within many Fedora sub-projects comes from the fact that the work being produced by our dedicated contributors is being used by multiple other groups. Fedora artwork is no different.

(1) Red Hat's desktop team, led by Jonathan Blandford, is responsible for the look and feel of the desktop on Red Hat products. To that extent, they want to be able to have some input into what the overall Fedora desktop experience will be like in a given release. This group of people want to make sure that the desktop "looks good".

(2) David Zeuthen, who is the package maintainer of the desktop artwork. He cares about the end result insofar as he needs to know what to package up, and he needs to know that when he spends the time to build that package, the artwork that he's pulling in is "blessed" and won't have to change a bunch of times. Furthermore, he wants to make sure that the desktop "looks good".

(3) Me (and the Fedora Board). I'm held accountable by Red Hat for *everything* that carries the Fedora name. So like I said above, I want to make sure that the community that we build around Fedora Art is a good one, and I believe that the results we get out of the community will end with the desktop "looking good."

(4) The volunteers and contributors who work directly on the Fedora art. The actual artists who actually *create art*. You all want to make sure that the Fedora desktop "looks good."

And while it may sound silly to repeat it, I will draw your attention to the fact that *everyone* involved wants the same end result. The conflict is in what the best way to achieve that end result is.

=== The Fedora 7 theme ===

I was very pleased to see Maureen Duffy's work in the Fedora 7 theme creation process (Artwork/FC7Themes). The open submission window, the voting among the community of the favorite ones, and then the refinement of those themes and ultimate selection of a winner, from which the remaining details then get worked out.

I think that is the only way to handle the theme selection that is in the spirit of how we try to do things in the Fedora Project. I think that Jonathan Blandford's team (whether that be Jonathan himself or one of the people who works for him) should be able to offer input and opinions, as should all of the other contributors and volunteers in the Fedora Art project.

Obviously I can look at all of the themes, and I have one or two that I think are the "best", but I think the process that has been ongoing is *sure* to produce a result that everyone will be happy with (ie: the desktop will "look good"), if we have the guts to see the process through to the end.

I would like to see Maureen continue leading the Fedora 7 theme selection process as she has been, and as the "leading candidates" emerge, if there are specific questions (from an artistic or implementation perspective) about the themes, I'd like to see them discussed and hashed out on this list.

=== Overall Fedora Art leadership ===

The conversations around the Fedora 7 theme are just one part of what the Art team's larger goals are (as discussed way above).

Overall leadership of the Fedora Art project is needed. I would like very much to see the community of contributors who are most active in Fedora Art nominate their own leader, and have the Fedora Board approve of that choice, rather than have me (speaking for the Fedora Board) simply appoint someone the leader (but I will if I have to). I prefer to let a group like Fedora Art choose its own leader because that is most likely to end with a person who has the respect of the group being in charge -- someone who has earned the right via the meritocracy that we always talk about.

The leadership job, as with any, will not be an easy one.

You'll have to look at all of the different goals of Fedora Art project and see to it that progress is being made on all of them. If that involves immediately delegating that responsibility to someone else, that's fine. But the Fedora Board expects that the project will run itself in a way that is in line with the Fedora ideals -- open decision making, transparency, etc.

The leadership positions in the Fedora sub-projects are all the same. Look at the job description for the Fedora Infrastructure Leader on the wiki's Careers page -- the *details* are different between that project and this one, but the *spirit* of the job is the same thing. Every Fedora project needs someone like this.

You'll have to be the person who makes a touch decision, the person who reaches out to all the different groups that I talked about who are vested in the results of Fedora Art, and make sure that they feel like they have all had an opportunity to offer input and contribute.

And in the case of Fedora Art specifically, I think the job will also require some peacemaking, and trying to get everyone to give things a fresh start, a blank canvas, pick your cliche.

Who wants to do that job? As a community, who do you nominate for this position?


I am on vacation myself right now, so I won't be on my email constantly. But I'll check this thread again in a day or two and see what sort of responses this email has generated.

Hopefully it's the first step on the path to making things better, and I'm not just fanning the flames.

Max Spevack
+ http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/MaxSpevack
+ gpg key -- http://spevack.org/max.asc
+ fingerprint -- CD52 5E72 369B B00D 9E9A 773E 2FDB CB46 5A17 CF21

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