On the last day of linux.conf.au 2011, Mark Pesce gave the final keynote entitled “Smoke Signals”. The slides and an essay based on the presentation are available on Mark's website.
After the keynote both the conference organising team and members of the Linux Australia council received complaints from attendees regarding some of the content and imagery in the presentation. The imagery in particular was of a nature that was upsetting to a number of viewers.
Discussions took place between the linux.conf.au organising committee and the Linux Australia Council, with the result being that an apology was offered on behalf of the conference and Linux Australia at the closing session. In the week after the conference Mark also offered an apology to conference attendees, both on twitter and on his blog.
After careful consideration and consultation with members of the community,with Mr Pesce and with sponsors, the Council has decided that it is appropriate to make the video available for viewing online, even though we believe it was not appropriate material for the conference.
The video of Mark Pesce's keynote will be made available in due course on the linux.conf.au blip.tv channel. The contents of the original video will be uploaded in full apart from removal of sponsor's logos from the video.
In the days and weeks following the keynote an intense discussion regarding the keynote and the organisers' reaction to it took place initially on the lca-chat mailing list and then later progressed to the linux-aus mailing list. The Linux Australia council values the extensive feedback from these discussions, and will use it to inform policies for future conferences and events.
Unfortunately there was also an aspect of the discussion that was disrespectful, inappropriate and upsetting to many people, including many who didn't actively participate in the discussion. The Linux Australia Council was also notified that some members participating in the discussion had been abused and harassed via off-list emails.
Linux Australia would like to express its sincere regret that the discussion was less than respectful to all participants, and would like to apologise to those who were justifiably upset by its contents.
Linux Australia would like to remind all mailing list subscribers that the mailing list is not a general forum, and while commentary on our policies and actions is welcome, harassment and intimidation of linux.conf.au attendees and Linux Australia members is definitely not.
Linux Australia is committed to expanding its membership and increasing participation by a diverse range of groups. This means that Linux Australia will take all possible measures to ensure all of its members feel welcome and safe at any events we support, as well as on any communication platform we host.
We believe this is only possible with the co-operation of all attendees and participants. Our goal is to create spaces that are known to be safe for all participants, and not forums for bullying or harassing behaviour. Linux Australia creates its policies to reflect the values of our organisation and the atmosphere and sense of inclusion that we wish to project at our conferences and other events. These policies have enabled us to respond in a manner which we believe reinforces these aims.
Like the software that our community is founded on, our policies are works in progress and can always be improved. In the coming months the Linux Australia Council will work on improving the existing policies and expanding them to cover all aspects of the organisation, not just linux.conf.au.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email the Linux Australia Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linux Australia Council