Sumana Harihareswara's Talks & Presentations
I'm Sumana (pronunciation), the founder of Changeset Consulting, and I frequently write and speak on open source, management, and other topics. I also perform stand-up comedy specifically written for tech audiences, and speak on podcasts and panels.
Invite me to speak.
Tidelift's Free as in Fridays livestream: online, May 7th, a one-hour live conversation about open source maintainership and my work.
PyCon US Maintainers' Summit (online, May 9-13):
Presenting a prerecorded ten-minute talk "Researching the leadership gap for legacy projects", and participating in "Funding open source work" (4-5pm EDT on Wednesday, May 12) and presenter Q&A (4-5pm EDT on Thursday, May 13)
Python Virtual Training Summit as part of PyCon US (online, May 12-13): presenting a fifteen-minute live talk "Tools we need to teach project management" followed by questions and answers. Specific date TBA.
MenderCon (online, May 13 2021, 1pm-1:50pm EDT): "Starting an Open Source 'Repair Shop'" talk. Free registration available.
Upstream, June 7 2021, online: "Sidestepping the PR Bottleneck: Four Non-Dev Ways To Support Your Upstreams", 30 minutes:
You want to be a good open source citizen and ensure the health of projects you depend on. You've contributed pull requests but they're languishing -- or, your feature devs don't have time to make PRs. Sidestep that bottleneck: learn four ways to support your upstreams with non-developer resources.
I'll share case studies and discuss:
- testing infrastructure -- one of the most valuable ways you can sponsor an open source project is through your ops department.
- money -- whether you go with Tidelift or another sponsorship option, direct donation can move the needle.
- secondary mentorship -- you can help new contributors get situated and stay unblocked.
- coaching and cheerleading -- I'll talk about a time when being an encouraging sidekick made a huge difference.
mid-June 2021, online: "Rescue and renew a project: How to get legacy open source projects unstuck", a 30-minute talk (conference TBA)
Below is a list of some of the public talks and presentations I've given, with links to audio and video recordings, notes, slides, and transcripts.
- Penguicon 2017 (Guest of Honor, schedule including "Things I Wish I'd Known About Open Source in 1998" and "What If Free and Open Source Software Were More Like Fandom?")
- LibrePlanet 2017: "Lessons, Myths, and Lenses: What I Wish I'd Known in 1998" (schedule, video, in-progress transcript)
- FLOSS Community Metrics Meeting Winter 2016: "What Should We Stop Doing?" (written version, slides, video)
- Wiki Conference USA 2014: "Hospitality, Jerks, and What
I Learned" (transcript, video, audio)
- code4lib 2014: "User Experience is a
Social Justice Issue" (written version, video)
- Open Source Bridge 2012: "Be Bold: An Origin
Story" (written version, video)
- Professional IT Community Conference 2011: "The Only
(Intentionally) Funny Talk You'll Hear Today" (video)
Other conference talks and presentations
Technology & adjacent topics
- RailsConf 2021, mid-April: "How to Get a Project Unstuck" talk (video forthcoming)
- GitHub OCTO Speaker Series, 30 March: "What Would Open Source Look Like If It Were Healthy?" (video on Twitch, video on YouTube, transcript)
- MozFest 2021: "Apply for Grants To Fund Open
Source Work" (video and skillshare discussion, 10 March); Blog followup with summary of discussion, 15-minute prerecorded video, rough
script and slides
- MozFest 2021: "How To
Get A Project Unstuck" (discussion, 9 March); Blog followup with summary of discussion
- Linux.Conf.Au, 25 January, on "How To Get A Project Unstuck -- And Fixing The Skill Gaps That Got Us Here". Outline and links; video.
- PyLadies Southwest Florida meetup, Nov 19th, 2020. Online. Spoke on my career path, and a few Python tips (video recording, notes).
- EuroPython sprints, July 25-26. Online. Coordinated a sprint on
- PyOhio, July 25-26, 2020. Online. Gave a ten-minute talk: "Apply for Grants To Fund
Open Source Work". Video, slides and text.
- I attended the 2020 Exascale Computing Project Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, USA, 3-6 February 2020, and spoke in Better Scientific Software sessions about my maintainership writing.
- I was a panellist at Sustain NYC, in New York City, USA, on 25 November 2019.
- I presented a 30-minute overview of PyPI's application security model as a guest lecturer to an NYU appsec class on 18 November 2019.
- I spoke on a MOSS panel and led a Python packaging workshop at MozFest 2019 in London, UK, in October 2019.
- I led the arts festival The Art of Python, and a Python packaging/distribution open space and sprint, and participated in the Maintainers Summit, at PyCon North America 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
- At RubyConf Los Angeles 2018, I co-presented "Code Review, Forwards and Back" with Jason Owen (video).
- At PyGotham 2018, I co-presented
"Python Grab Bag: A Set of Short Plays" with Jason Owen.
Video and notes are available. We also held a preview performance on Sunday, September 30th.
- At Open Source Bridge 2018, I led an unconference session on Python packaging; one attendee took notes.
- I led a Python packaging/distribution sprint at PyCon North America 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
- Panel, "Social Media in Theory and Praxis: What is at Stake Now?" at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, in New York, NY, on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. Description:
Use of digital platforms and tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,
Instagram, and Google has altered cultural production, political processes,
economic activity, and individual habits. This event is a presentation and
panel discussion on several pressing issues in social media and digital
literacy featuring five invited scholars, organized and moderated by The
Graduate Center Program Social Media Fellows. The speakers bring expertise
in a range of timely topics including: grassroots use of the Internet,
feminism, free and open source project development, labor, appropriation,
peer production, virtuality, networked cameras, and big cultural data
- "Code Review, Forwards and Back", with Jason Owen, at PyGotham 2017, October 6, 2017, in New York City (video on YouTube, video on PyVideo).
- I led a session at WONTFIX Cabal (Maintainerati) unconference for open source maintainers on February 15, 2017, in San Francisco, California, USA.
- I was invited to offer ten minutes of testimony (and then answer
legislators' questions) at the New York State Assembly's public hearing
on government oversight of forensic science laboratories on February 8th, 2017
in NYC (PDF
with more info, hearing
calendar webpage). This was a hearing held jointly by the Assembly
Standing Committees on Codes, on Judiciary, and on Oversight, Analysis
and Investigation. I spoke on the importance of auditability and
transparency in software used in devices the government uses in
laboratories and field tests, and open source as an approach
to improve these. And I testified to the efficiency, cost savings,
security, and quality gains available by using open source software and
by reusing and sharing open source software with other state
governments. PDF of my testimony as written, video, witness list, transcript.
- PyCon North America 2016: "HTTP Can Do That?!" (video recording). Learn how to get more performance, testability, and flexibility out of your web apps, using features already built into HTTP. I walk you through case studies exploring good (and bad) ideas, using Python, your browser, netcat, and other common tools.
- OSCON 2016: "Inessential Weirdnesses in Open Source" (written version). Free and open source contributors and leaders who are already comfortable with our norms and jargon learn how to see their own phrasings and tools as outsiders
do, including barriers that often slow down new users and contributors, and to make more hospitable experiences during their outreach efforts.
- LibrePlanet 2016: "Inessential Weirdnesses in
Free Software" (written remarks, video). Also: lightning
talk "What is maintainership? Or, approaches to filling management skill gaps in free software" (written version).
- Great Wide Open 2016: "Hidden Features in HTTP". Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia (slides).
- FOSDEM 2016: "Comparing Codes of Conduct to Copyleft Licenses" (written version, video [83 megabytes, downloadable or streamable as "comparing-codes-of-conduct-to-copyleft-licenses.mp4"])
Fandom & adjacent topics
- At WisCon 43 (2019) in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, I served on:
- "Ethics In The Good Place And Crazy Ex-Girlfriend", panellist.
- Tiptree Auction: comedian and auctioneer, as recorded in this cartoon.
- "Imaginary Book Club", panellist.
- I served as the Tiptree Award charity auction's auctioneer at WisCon, May 27, 2017, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
- MidAmericon II: Nine program
items. August 17-21, 2016, in Kansas City, MO. Specifically:
- Panelist, "The Interstices of Historical and
- Panelist, "The Imaginary Book Club"
- Panelist, "Bad Boy Woobie"
- "Comedy Tonight!" (About 30 minutes of stand-up comedy during a three-person
- Panelist, "The New Space Opera Golden Age on the
- Auctioneer for Tiptree Award Auction
- Panelist, "The Art and Science of Fiction Translation"
- Panelist, "Comics Confrontational! Social
Issues in Recent Comics"
- Panelist, "Representation in Comic Books:
From Absences to Affirmatives"
- WisCon, May 27-30, 2016, in Madison, Wisconsin. Three sessions:
- Panelist on "The Fandom Awakens" (on Star Wars)
- Comedy auctioneer for the charity auction benefiting the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award (more)
- Panelist on "SIX SEASON SERIES BASED ON THE THREE-PART TRILOGY BASED ON THE SINGLE BOOK OF THE NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL" (comedy game show focusing on people of color)
- various Foo Camp and WisCon panels and sessions 2009-2015, e.g., "Models We Use to Understand the World",
"Facebook and Its Discontents", "Must Pleasures Be Guilty?", "SF/F and Higher Ed", "Lighthearted Shorthand Sans Fail", and "How Should
Magazines and Anthologies Review Submissions?"
- Foolscap 2014: "Powerpoint Karaoke" and "You, Yes You, Can Do Standup Comedy"
Podcasts and interviews
- FOSS and Crafts 2020: 75-minute interview on sketching, fanvidding, standup comedy, and maintainership
- Open Source in Business 2020: one-hour panel, including Sumana Harihareswara, on "Consulting on Open Source Strategy" (view on Crowdcast)
- Software Developers Journey podcast 2020: one-hour interview with Sumana Harihareswara about her career path (highlights and quotes)
- Real Python podcast 2020: one-hour interview with Sumana Harihareswara and Georgia Bullen on our pip resolver work and Python packaging
- FLOSS Weekly 2020: a 64-minute video interview on pip and Python packaging (briefly mentioning Changeset Consulting and my comedy and theater performances)
- Mozilla Open Source Support program 2020: a 2min14sec video interview on PyPI, MOSS, and how we used the MOSS money to drive PyPI forward
- The Rabbit Hole podcast 2019: interview on open source sustainability, maintainership, sensationalism among bards who sang the Odyssey, how PyPI is like Wikipedia, and what we think is paranoid, and a second interview discussing PyCon and The Art of Python, my past talks and plays, "Halt & Catch Fire", what conferences are for, and the feeling of giving a bad talk
- The Recompiler podcast 2016: Interview with Sumana Harihareswara
- OSCON 2016: Interview with Sumana Harihareswara
- Open Paren 2015: "Sumana Harihareswara" (video)
- Passionate Voices 2015: "Sumana Harihareswara" (video)
- The Media Show 2015: "How does Wikipedia create content?" (video)
- Smart Planet 2013: "Opening up
the open source community"
- inSCIght (The Scientific Computing Podcast) 2012: "Ladies Who Learn And Code"
- Open Source Bridge 2012: "Sumana Harihareswara talks about
the open source structure of Wikimedia and Wikipedia" (video)
- OSCON 2011: interviewed on "the role of leaders within free software and free culture
communities...the work of the [Wikimedia F]oundation, the relationship between developers and
content providers, and a number of other topics." Video: Part 1, Part 2
- Stumptown Syndicate 2011: interview at Open Source Bridge (video)
- Bitch Radio 2011: "Women in Open
- Hour of the Wolf April 2010: interview about "Thoughtcrime
Experiments", with Leonard Richardson
- Outer Alliance March 2010: interview about "Thoughtcrime Experiments"
- Like Minded Studio 2009: "Sumana Harihareswara"
Invite me to speak
Please contact me to invite me to speak (seriously or comedically) at your event or organization, or on your podcast, or to
give testimony in a legislative or judicial hearing. If your organization or conference is for-profit, I will be much more likely to be able to speak to you if you
offer an honorarium.
Availability: I am available in person starting in August 2021, and for virtual events starting in May 2021. Except in extreme circumstances, I need two
months' notice to deliver a talk (including performing stand-up comedy), and two weeks' notice to speak on a podcast or panel.
About me: Sumana Harihareswara is a project manager, programmer, and standup comedian who leads a consultancy to help open source projects level up. She led the rollout of the
new PyPI.org, and has worked on Zulip, HTTPS Everywhere, Mailman, MediaWiki, and several other open source
projects. Most recently she has managed improvements to pip's dependency resolver and user experience, and has
expedited the release of new versions of pipenv and autoconf. She's working on a book to teach what she's learned
about rejuvenating legacy open source projects. She earned an Open Source Citizen Award in 2011 and a Google Open
Source Peer Bonus in 2018, and participated in Recurse Center in 2013 and 2014. She lives in New York City and
founded Changeset Consulting in 2015.
Topics for my serious talks include: Careers and management in free and open source software, consulting in open source, grants and corporate sponsorship to fund open source work,
mentoring midlevel open source contributors to grow maintainers, the Python software packaging toolchain, HTTP, and Python.
My comedy sets (10-30 minutes long) include: What weird unusual licenses should the Open Source
Initiative consider next? Where's the fine line between maintainer success and maintainer burnout? Should we
alias git reset --hard to git regret --hard? I've been in free and open source software for
years, and I perform stand-up comedy about it. I joke about why I don't use Facebook, bug reporting and why it
ought to be taught in schools, what it means to "succeed" in free and open source software, and more.
Back to homepage