I sat down for a while yesterday (okay, stood up while scribbling on a whiteboard) trying to get down my current understanding of the TOS community and what it is and where it could go. Looking for feedback, especially from folks who disagree - this is a braindump meant to spark conversation, coming from an individual in the community trying to express her own mental context of it.

This video is licensed CC-BY.

High-level summary:

TOS is a community of practice of people who teach open source community participation in an academic context. It's not a teaching or research institution, a company or nonprofit, a software project, or a professional society, though many of its members belong to one or more of these, and we make use of their structures in order to accomplish our goals.

Our primary deliverable as a community is academic source (this term feels a bit awkward to me - perhaps there's a better existing one from the teaching world?) - artifacts that assist the transfer of the ability to teach open source community participation in an academic context. Things like workshops, syllabi, curricular materials, handouts, etc. are tools to accomplish our goal, which is a human-to-human transmission of teaching, rather than the end-all-be-all themselves.

Several parts fit into this:

  • Conferences and events in both the FOSS and academic worlds as public spaces, gatherings where we can swap this knowledge. Individual institutions, to some extent, will always be black-boxes and more private spaces; that's okay.
  • POSSE as an on-ramp into the community; you don't have to attend POSSE to join the TOS community by any means, but if you're interested yet don't know how to start, it's a good way to get up to speed.
  • Infrastructure to support digital communication within and between institutions, both hosting and maintaining it within the institution-neutral space of TOS, and helping those who want to set it up within their own institutions.
  • Grants to assist with all three of the above.

Open question: what value does the TOS community create for each of its participants? (In other words, why are you here, and what does your school/company/project gain from your participation?)

That's it - I'd love feedback and thoughts on this.