Dave Cridland for Board 2011

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Dave Cridland for Board!?

This may seem like a worrying thing. I am, after all, a technical kind of person, right? I've done a few RFCs, a few XEPs, and I've even been on Council for the rather odd term of 30 months, before. So what the heck do I know about managing an organization?

So the rest of this application won't mention much in the way of technical knowledge and ability; instead I'm going to try to convince you that I'm a genius businessman of unparalleled proportions, and even look good in a suit. This may appear as if I've suddenly turned into a different person - especially the suit bit - but I haven't. It's just that within the XSF, I've only done technical things, so I've now got to convince you all that I do genuinely know which end of a carrot to hit people with.

Who's Dave Cridland?

I am.

Some questions are so simple to answer, aren't they?

In my home life I'm a father of two children, husband of one wife, and stroker-in-chief of two cats.

I work for Isode Ltd in three capacities - I'm technical lead for M-Link, our XMPP server, which is a resource management and planning role; I'm a software engineer on the server; and finally I'm part of Isode Ltd's management team.

So an alarming amount of what I do in my work revolves around getting people to do things (both my colleagues at Isode, and my children - I won't say which are harder to deal with) or managing the big picture of a fairly large organization that's critical to my future.

Previously, I've run two smaller companies operating as consultancies, and before that, I ran teams, groups, and departments within larger businesses.

I do, genuinely, own more than one suit, and I think I look okay in them. My wife reckons I've put way too much weight on, though I blame this on those management lunches I'm now forced to attend.

Why I'm Standing; and Why I Dropped Council

Dropping Council was a hard decision to make. I really enjoyed Council, but I was struggling with the time commitment it involves, and found it hard to justify when Isode already sponsors both Kev and Will for XSF duties. Any objections I did have against XEPs would, I thought, be properly weighed by the Council at least, and I considered that - just as there was little benefit for Isode - there was a reduced benefit in having both Kev and myself on Council as our perspectives and opinions converged. Not to say I agree with everything Kev says or vice-versa, of course, but an entirely new viewpoint within the Council benefitted more.

As Will's no longer standing for Board, however, this means I can justify increasing my involvement in that area, and so I've requested that I spent some of my work time in helping the XSF organize and manage itself. I think the XSF needs to have a bit of a shake-up - of which more later - and the XSF is critical to my future, too.

Isode Ltd have agreed to my spending some time on XSF Board activities; as ever, though, I am not representing Isode in any way through my XSF work.

What I hope to achieve

The XSF is a standards development organization. Its primary task - its mission, if you like management-speak - is to encourage and allow developers to make interoperable XMPP-based applications as easily as possible, primarily by producing high-quality documentation of how the protocol works, and how each implementation needs to behave in order to make this happen.

Sometimes, we need to polish existing specifications, but sometimes we need to devise whole new functionality that we find is needed by the wider world.

The Council is, by necessity, focussed on each XEP as it passes through their system. The XEP Editor is horrendously overloaded, because a tiny percentage of people contribute actual edits to the XEPs. It is currently difficult for outsiders to take useful first steps in such work, partly due to culture and partly due to lack of facilities. Many XSF members are silent, and not engaged with the work the XSF does.

Our non-technical work is also suffering - there's a vast amount of interesting things happening with XMPP, and we don't seem to be capable of capitalizing on this. That's a real lost opportunity.

For XSF members, and actually most people working on XMPP in general, a strong, active, and well-regarded XSF is a real benefit. It helps to legitimize XMPP to our markets, it helps to collect and focus talent, it helps to maximize the pace of development. All these things are important when our competitors are walled gardens and secretive corporations with powerful marketing.

I think we need a refresh - but not a reload, and certainly not a reboot. The essential structure of the XSF - the XEPs, the Council's stewardship of them, the mailing lists, and so on - all work, and have given us the protocols and deployment levels we have today. And I reiterate; there's lots of interesting things happening with XMPP today.


So I'd like to spend much of the next year in giving the XSF an internal and external refresh. My specific goals are:

  • Reduce barriers for involvement.

I think reducing barriers for people to easily work on existing (and new) XEPs would both reduce the workload of the XEP Editor (enabling that person to work on items with the most benefit), as well as encouraging involvement by the community as a whole.

  • Provide more benefits, and duties, for members.

I think we can increase the worth of membership both in terms of what members get from the XSF, and also what the XSF expects of them.

  • Provide members with more information for voting.

At the moment, we expect members to make critical decisions on the membership of the XSF, its board, and council, all without any information not provided by the candidates themselves. I think we can provide objective information in some aspects which should be useful to push for quality of XSF membership.

A Small Update

For those who've not noticed the change on LinkedIn, I was recently given the position of "VP Engineering (XMPP)" at Isode Ltd; this is, again, a management position. It's almost as if they don't want me to write code.

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