I'm Benjamin Mako Hill and this is my page in the Ubuntu Wiki. I'm been contributing to free software for nearly 15 years now(!) and was a member of the small team of people that founded the company that became Canonical Ltd. and the project that became Ubuntu.
You can find out lots more about me on this page or on these other webpages:
My Work in Ubuntu
Over the years, I've been lucky enough to play a number of roles in Ubuntu that have allowed to watch the Ubuntu community grow and, in some situations, to push it a little in one direction or another. Here's a list of some of the highlights:
I was part of the founding team of a dozen or so people originally codenamed The Warthogs that help came up with the idea for Ubuntu and helped put together Ubuntu's first release (4.10 Warty Warthog) over the middle part of 2004.
In addition to technical work at the project, I was Ubuntu's first "community manager" (although we didn't call it that at the time) for the first 18 months of the project -- a role I passed on to JonoBacon.
As the community manager, I was lucky enough to be the person who announced Ubuntu to the world!
I was a founding member of CommunityCouncil and I've served on that board since the beginning.
I am the first author of the Official Ubuntu Book which is now in its 4th edition and which is distributed under a free culture license. I've had the pleasure of working with a long list of other Ubuntu contributors including JonoBacon, CoreyBurger, MatthewHelmke, JonathanJesse, IvanKrstic, and others on the book.
I continue to be a CoreDeveloper for Ubuntu, although these days I don't upload packages to Ubuntu very frequently as most of my contributions fall into the broad category of community and documentation work.
My Work Outside of Ubuntu
Free, Libre, and Open Source Software -- I usually call it free software -- has been the center of my professional and social life what is now a majority of the time that I've spent on earth! Ubuntu has been an important piece of it, but it's only one part.
I currently work as a Fellow and PhD Candidate in a joint program between the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT Media Lab. I study how free software communities like Ubuntu work with a specific eye to understanding how we might make them work better!
I also spend a ton of my time volunteering on free software projects. The two major projects I work are are Ubuntu (of course) and Debian. I continue to be active in Debian although recently most of my work there boils down to maintaining a handful of packages and helping new maintainers. I see Debian and Ubuntu as complementary projects and am a strong believer in, and advocate of, a strong symbiotic relationship between the two projects.
Community Council Elections
I have been a member of the Ubuntu CommunityCouncil since 2004. I am thrilled to have been nominated to stand for the council for another term. Several years ago, I could confidently say I had chatted with every single UbuntuMember. As our community has grown, that is sadly no longer the case. For those that don't know me, I hope that this page and my record shows both a deep understanding of what our community is and how it works and a commitment to our shared principles and goals.
As the original author of the Code of Conduct and of most of Ubuntu's core philosophical and community documents, I see my role on the council as protecting the values that Ubuntu has stood for: (a) empowerment of our users through free software philosophy and open source methods; (b) empowerment of our contributors through the strong community that is the secret to our success; (b) uncompromising excellence in the products and services our community offers; (c) humanity toward others in all that we do.
The Community Council's work can involve struggling with some of the most controversial and divisive issues that our community faces. I think it is the role of the council member to both be strongly principled with a strong "internal compass" of what is right and wrong for the project while never forgetting that the role of the council member is to reflect the will and interest of the community in general and our membership in particular. Council members work for the community, after all, and should never forget this.
I believe the most important thing the CommunityCouncil can do is to continually and creatively support and highlight our community's good work, encourage collaborations where possible, and ensure that excellence and effort is recognized and rewarded. Part of this support involves identifying and responding to issues that are keeping the community from working well -- but it is only part. Beyond that, it should be the council's job to get out of the community's way. Like all good leadership, our community council should exist to help the community work, not to be its boss.
The Ubuntu Community's unbelievable success and growth over the last five years has been breathtaking to watch. I feel privileged to have played a (very small!) part of it as part of the council and I'd love your support to keep working with you all in this capacity for one more term.