[Marketing] press release opportunity...

David Farning dfarning at sugarlabs.org
Thu Jul 30 13:39:21 EDT 2009

On Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 4:36 AM, Sean DALY<sdaly.be at gmail.com> wrote:
> OK but I will need to think a little bit about this (and for the
> moment no internet access in the house, truck unloaded yesterday & we
> are in boxes, internet will take a couple of weeks at least)
> I have promised Tomeu to assist in recruitment but this is a tricky
> one... the "magic" if I may say so is to find an "angle" that is
> newsworthy... that will bubble to the top choices a journalist or
> blogger will choose to write about. Unfortunately, "we need help" or
> "we are succeeding an ambitious technical challenge", etc. are not
> newsworthy in and of themselves. So we need to find a link, a "hook"
> to generate newsworthiness. My instinct is to springboard from Sugar
> on a Stick which has already captured the imagination of many writers
> and bloggers.
> Marketing, advertising, even recruitment springs first from emotional
> response, then reasoned analysis. If you listen to Red Hat's CEO in
> the BBC link I sent two days ago you will hear him try to motivate
> potential recruits in terms of social responsibility and making the
> world a better place. I think all of us are deeply motivated by the
> desire to educate children.

I have come to the same conclusion.

I have been uneasy about our shopping list of needs approach to
engaging new contributors.  Every open source article about attracting
and engaging contributors talk about providing a easily accessible
list of activities for contributors to get started.  Yet, when ever I
read those lists (and our lists) I end up saying 'Why should I help
with this.'

Further research on non-profit and my own personal experience has lead
me to the conclusion that people help social benefit organizations,
such as Sugar Labs, because we 'meet needs' not because we 'have
needs.'  As an example, I don't donate to Wisconsin Public Radio
because they run those annoying 'please help us' campaigns every
couple of months.  Instead, I believe that Wisconsin Public Radio is
providing a valuable service, thereby meeting a valuable community

I think this was why the SoaS release made such a splash in the tech
community.  It was widely perceived as 'meeting the need' that Sugar
be available without purchasing an XO during their limited periods of
G1G1 availability.  The 'value' of freeing Sugar appeals to certain

OLPC in general is such a compelling project because it aims to 'meet
the needs' of students in developing nation by leverage technology.
The 'value' of education and the 'usefulness' of technology resonate
_very_ strongly with many people.

Overall, the message can take the form of:
1.  Here is the need we aim to meet -
2. Here is our track record on making progress towards meeting that need -
3. Here is how you can help us meet that need -


> Perhaps, Slashdot-style, we can announce a technical challenge with a
> deadline (cf. JFK man on the moon). For example: "Sugar on a Stick is
> a liveUSB system and is based on liveCD solutions which impose certain
> limitations on writable media; one of the consequences is a higher
> failure rate for USB sticks than optical media. We want Sugar on a
> Stick to be absolutely reliable for children and their teachers; who
> can help us design and implement an improved liveUSB architecture by
> May 2010, to prepare Sugar on a Stick for wide deployment by the
> beginning of the school year?"
> This is only an idea, but the brainstorming aspect of it - we want to
> do something which has never been done before - could raise awareness
> among sharp geeks who could bring their experience to the project. It
> would position ourselves as being at the leading edge of innovation,
> bringing high tech on a $5 stick to kids. We could imagine a "contest"
> with the only prize being the implementation of the best idea; but a
> wiki page where we invite geeks to propose their best take on the
> subject could build traffic amongst prequalified developers.
> This is a double-edged sword, because there are some pundits who love
> to diss Sugar and OLPC by implying that Python is a silly choice, or
> OLPC "failed" by doing X and not doing Y or Z. But we could maybe
> minimize mindless trashing by asking the community for the best ideas.
> This might work best as a blog post not a press release... although if
> we raise the bar of the challenge high enough, some tech writers might
> want to write about it if it is a press release too.
> We absolutely have to improve the Getting Involved page as part of our
> recruitment too, I had had some suggestions a couple of months back
> but no time for me to find those today :-(
> I will think about this some more, feedback appreciated thanks
> Sean
> On Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 4:01 AM, Walter Bender<walter.bender at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I will spare you the discussion details, but an idea that emerged from
>> IRC would be PR around our technical challenges in order to recruit
>> more interest. We could get Tomeu, et al. to draft some descriptive
>> text and you could work your magic???
>> -walter
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