Hi Eyal, I’m happy to respond to your questions!
Question 1: I am a relatively new trustee, having joined the BoT in 2022. Can you tell us newer trustees a little more about your activity on the board in previous terms, especially when you were a full member?
My experience as a board member was in some ways contrasting: I was attracted by way of working, which was quite different, more pragmatic, from the academic way I knew, and I was very much attracted by the technical and cultural depth of the people I dealt with, but language was sometimes a significant barrier, as I was not a native English speaker, so the intrinsic complexity of specific topics from a technical point of view was added to the language barrier, causing a lot of stress.
- I certainly contributed to hiring a mentor to provide newcomer developers with essential guidance and mentoring. Several students carried out their thesis on the TDF ecosystem. The most important outcome was Fabio Biocchetti’s work on the Help System.
- I contributed to enhancing various training activities in schools, universities and HackFests.
- I hope I have contributed to fostering a calm discussion within the Board.
Question 2: Suppose a legion of pixies committed to making routine donations to the TDF, totaling an extra 1 Million EUR/annum, starting right now. In other words, our annual budget suddenly increased by 1 Million EUR. As a member of the board, what would be your priorities for allocating the extra income?
As my grandmother used to say: “May your mouth be holy”! If this were to come true, as Board members, we would have an extraordinary opportunity to make a significant and stable impact on innovative components: a shared cloud environment, mobile access, generative Artificial Intelligence, UX enhancement to make LibreOffice even more beautiful and powerful, listening to the marvellous suggestions of our local communities. Apart from improving the software, I would also use resources to foster the local communities, enable them, and help them grow.
Question 3: One of the problems I have found with the outgoing board is the violation of the TDF-statutory requirement to publish information (as per §8.3.c of our statutes). Did the BoD, during your first tenure, abide by this obligation? (TBH, I am guessing that it didn’t so there would be a followup question.)
From what I can remember, the formal obligation was fulfilled. However, I think that in some cases, it was difficult for community members to fully understand the scope of decisions. This is something that, in the Pledge that I support together with my colleagues, we have strongly stressed to have much more involved community participation.
Question 4: I also have some background in Academia (Ph.D from the Technion IIT in 2012). Universities I’ve visited, and my own alma mater, do not seem to make much of an effort to promote FOSS culture, and - they very quickly “give way” ideologically to commercial closed-source software companies when those donate to them financially or deign to visit and try recruiting their graduates. My question: Do you believe the TDF has the potential to exert influence in the opposite direction? More generally, what are the prospects of TDF involvement with academia in your view?
I live this situation you describe every day. Unfortunately, the IT biggies always manage to find loopholes in which to creep in to get their solutions through. At my university, there was a friendly group of tech people (many were former students of mine) who had implemented excellent FLOSS solutions. Unfortunately, at some point, Microsoft managed to creep in and destroy everything. The results are visible now for all to see.
We must not give up because reasonable solutions ultimately prevail. We must, as TDF, strengthen communication and initiatives that enhance the freedom of FLOSS choices and their robustness. It would be desirable to increase the number of companies in our Ecosystem so as to increase the number of players that can provide and service our solutions in compliance with GDPR and personal data, using open formats, and promoting joint training actions within the framework of the certified professionals’ program.