I am a 43 year old Finnish guy, a reseacher, a musician, and a freedom lover. I have been active in the Ubuntu community since its inception in 2004. Since then, I have remained active within the IRC community, helped with bugs, participated in discussions, and promoted Ubuntu and free software locally and globally. I am an Ubuntu project member and a member of the IRC Team. I served two terms on the IRC Council in 2009 - 2013.
Many people know me better as topyli online.
I am a graduate student at the Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning, University of Helsinki. My academic work is currently in the back burner, but when I do take some of it on the table, I concentrate on the organization of distributed work, particularly of large free software projects and firm/community relationships.
History of contributions
Community and support
In 2004, I was a Debian user increasingly frustrated by the slow (at the time) progress of new stable GNOME versions into Debian Sid. I first heard about a new, very gnomish distribution that would always release right after GNOME, on GIMPnet's #gnome-hackers. I soon got a copy from no-name-yet.com, and as soon as I found out about Freenode's #ubuntu channel, I joined. Over there I spent a lot of time in the early years discussing Ubuntu, supporting newbies (my Debian knowledge put to good use), and of course learning a lot.
I cannot remember exactly when #ubuntu became too big for general community chat and #ubuntu-offtopic was created. I joined there as well, and never left. I did, however, eventually leave #ubuntu in favor of #ubuntu-fi, the support channel of my LoCo team.
I joined the IRC operator team in late 2008. Despite frequenting numerous Ubuntu channels, I am one of the few "offtopic-only" operators on the team. I only work on #ubuntu-offtopic (and #ubuntu-fi-offtopic). I see it as my responsibility as a senior community member to work for a pleasant atmosphere in the lounge areas of the Ubuntu project, to welcome newcomers, and to try and show them how the community works.
In the end of 2009, I was appointed as a member of the IRC Council. After two terms at the end of 2013, I decided not to run for another term.
I infrequently create a web comic based on witty or funny dialog heard on #ubuntu-offtopic, titled 'tales from the offtopic' on my blog. It is the most popular feature on my web site, but I do sometimes write wall-of text blog entries as well.
LoCo and marketing
I am active in the #ubuntu-fi support channel, and an operator and cheerleader in #ubuntu-fi-offtopic. Historically, I have been less active in official LoCo business than I would have liked.
I am a member of the Board of the Finnish Linux User Group (FLUG). Finland has no regional or City-specific LUGs like most countries, but one, big, official non-profit organization. We work to assist local activities and groups with organization, finance, and legal matters. I accepted a positition in the board of the FLUG in the beginning of 2009. I served as Chairman in 2011 and 2012, and still continue on the Board. I deal with and support our LoCo people also in this role. I was Chairman of the Committee to choose the winner of the annual Linux-tekjä (Linux Contributor) award of 2009 and 2010. Ubuntu Finland accepted the prize in 2008.
I am a very active Free Software evangelist both locally and in the international academic world. I started my ongoing academic work on free software and open development models around 2002. I like to think my work has raised interest and awareness in the academia as well.
I have never written a line of code for Ubuntu or any other project in my entire life. I have never fixed a single bug in any piece of software.
I do report bugs quite often though, in both Ubuntu and upstream, and do my best to assist those who eventually do fix them. Specifically, I file wishlist bugs when I find usability problems, desktop inconsistencies or suboptimal design. I also encourage others to do so instead of just complaining.
I have installed dozens of Ubuntu systems for friends, acquaintances, and other people in the local community in need of a friendlier and more reliable system than what their computers came with.
I will continue my work on the IRC community and the IRC operators team. IRL, I will continue to push Free Software in the Finnish public sector and education through evangelism, academic work and consulting. I hope I can recognize as many opportunities as possible for making Free Software a little bit more awesome as they come by. Because they always do.
Future plans for IRC work
IRC is our primary real-time support and community discussion forum. We need to realize its unique potential for openness, immediacy and community building. I believe we will achieve this with general guidelines and careful selection of operators and IRC Council members, rather than strict written rules or technical measures. Clear operator qualifications and strong support from existing ops are essential for new member nominations, and respect between operators is the basis for smooth conflict resolution.
From the experience and evidence I have gathered from studying, and working with, free software projects and other open organizations, I know that conflicting interests, conflict resolution and the resulting learning are powerful sources of development and innovation. An activity where all contributors have a stable consensus is not learning. I believe that the Ubuntu community should also learn by encouraging friendly disagreement, and not be afraid of conflict.
My technical knowledge of IRC is not complete, and my time is limited by sleep, work, and friends in the flesh. I can only trust my experience as a senior citizen of the Ubuntu IRC world, and my understanding of open organizations, peer-based projects, and distributed work to help me add a contribution to the Council's operations.
Rather than pretending to know what is best for our future, I will instead use more time on learning first, and tackling issues together with others as problems arise. I am sure we can together create and maintain a great environment in the Ubuntu IRC space.
"topyli has been advocating Ubuntu in our IRC channels for as long as I can remember. He recently became a member of the IRC Team and has consistently shown good judgment when dealing with troublesome users" -- BenjaminRubin
Juha/Topyli is an excellent contributor to the Ubuntu ops. He has a cool head and is a big plus to have on the ops team. I heartily endorse Juha's membership application. --JussiSchultink
It has always been a pleasure to interact with topyli, and to observe his interactions with others. His informed yet approachable demeanor combined with a calm and patient manner has been an excellent asset to the Ubuntu IRC ops team, and is an excellent reflection of the Ubuntu ethos for new users. +1. - KurtvonFinck (mneptok)
Juha is a much appreciated contributor in the Ubuntu community and a very reliable person to work with. His work as an Ubuntu-ops has always shown him as clam and cool headed, not taking decision in a rush and you can feel he is fully committed to find the best solution for all parties involved. I strongly support his membership application. -- MyriamSchweingruber (Mamarok)
- Topyli is a valued community member to me. Available to provide solid support advice and disscussion, provides objective input to discussion and contributes valuable input to help take Ubuntu community data such as wiki pages, IRC Factoids, forward. His contribution as an IRC operator is very good and is a good person to use as an impartial sounding board. I would support Topyli gaining membership status. -- Matt Darcy
Comments on IRC Council nomination
Being a long-term user of the Ubuntu IRC namespace, and having been so alongside Juha for so, so long, I have come to respect and appreciate his amazing calm and down-to-earth approach in dealing with issues in the channel, and his incredible dedication to making the Ubuntu IRC namespace a great place to be. Most recently, I joined the operator team, and have found him to be the exact same person as an operator. Juha would be a great addition to the IRC Council, and he has my full support in this endeavour. -- LasseHavelund, December 10th 2009
A long-time #ubuntu-offtopic user, topyli has lightened the hearts of many a channel user with his IRC-based comic strips. Even though he's not been active in the English support channels in the recent years, he's an away-from-the-spotlight pillar of our IRC community. As a prospective IRC Council member, I believe Juha can function as an element of positive change, stopping unfavorable situations from stagnating and proposing new approaches. LorenzoJLucchini, December 17th 2009
I personally have an extremely difficult time trying do describe Juha, his character can shift between the funny guy that everybody loves or the serious operator that just wants to defuse a situation with minimal collateral damage. Even more amazing is his lack of an ego with his operator status, a trait I wish more of our operators past and present shared. Juha is the kind of person that doesn't carry a personal agenda or the desire to force his beliefs on others, this is the kind of person that is worthy of admission to the IRC Council; the kind of person the council needs. -- snuxoll 2009-12-18 00:07:13