Interview with Flavia Weisghizzi

Elizabeth Krumbach: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Flavia Weisghizzi: I’m Flavia Weisghizzi, I’m 34 years old and I live in that wonderful melting pot called Roma, Italy, where I was born, and from where, maybe, I’ll fly away someday. I’m a writer, I write poems and critical essays about literature. I also work as freelance journalist and radio speaker. Recently thanks to Ubuntu, I have become a conference speaker too.

That said, you can argue the story of my involvement with Ubuntu and FLOSS is really original. Everything began in 2001, the first time I wrote for an online magazine. They asked me to write something for IT news about an alternate office suite called StarOffice (yes, it was pre OpenOffice.org age). Here I learned about FLOSS philosophy, and I was definitively attracted by sense its of freedom.

EK: What inspired you to get involved in the Ubuntu community?

FW: On my first attempt I tried to approach the Linux OS as software to use, but it was really hard for a girl who studied had Italian Literature as her main field install it without help. But I continued in reading about open source and Linux. The year 2007 marked a turning point in my life: my Windows XP decided it was its “time to die”… taking a full month of my work with it! My boyfriend brought me a Live CD of Ubuntu 7.04, and so a Feisty Fawn slowly started to run on my PC, allowing me to access again to all my work, and documents!

It has been love at the very first glance!

After the installation of Ubuntu, it seemed obvious to me to take a look at the Italian community, and to take my first steps in IRC channels. I felt at home. Some weeks later I thought it would be nice to give a helping hand to the community, so I asked to join translation team. That time saw the release of the first issue of Full Circle Magazine. I also joined its translation team. Coming from publishing I could share my skills and my working experience.

I initially supposed that simply having communication skills would be useless in a software-oriented community, but I was wrong.

During the release of Ubuntu 8.04, I became the Media Relations Coordinator for the Italian LoCo Team, and I coordinated the Media Relations project, that aims to spread the spirit of Ubuntu beyond trade magazines in Italy.

It was a success for us. In fact, our community has been hosted many times by national broadcasts. To tell my story is important, because I believe too many people are shy, and underestimate the contributions they can give to the Ubuntu community.

EK: What are your roles within the Ubuntu community?

FW: At the moment, I’m member of Italian LoCo Team Community Council. Of course I still take care of Media relations, and recently I started promote, together with Silvia Bindelli, an Italian branch of Ubuntu Women project.

When I landed in Ubuntu (yes, landed) I had heard about this project, but there wasn’t a local branch. At the time there were two main ways to get help with my OS-related issues: connect to the IRC and forum, and chose between asking in the Italian LoCo team support channel in my own language, but in a male-dominated environment, or asking in a women-related channel, but in an “alien” language (not simply English, but English applied to computer science). Here in Italy we have some problems about how women are received in many work environments, and, unfortunately, this pertains also to open source. There are too many prejudices against women, not only from men, but also from many women. With this in mind, I hope to be able to enhance the status of women in the field of open source software.

I’m able to write, and I’m comfortable with public speaking. I published (with Luca Ferretti, member of GNOME Release Team) a couple of books about Ubuntu, and I’m often asked to speak in conferences or round tables about Ubuntu and FLOSS.

EK: Is there anything you haven’t done yet, but would like to get involved with in the Ubuntu community?

FW: Oh many, many things! But first of all, I’d participate in an UDS! I’d like to be face-to-face with people who build Ubuntu and whom I may know by their names or nicknames.

As a Media Relations Coordinator, I think it would be much more useful to spread out a single press-release announce, one shared between all local groups and Canonical. This could give more effectiveness to the news

Finally… I want make a package! Only one, just to say to have done the dirty work!

EK: What other things are you interested in outside of open source and Ubuntu?

FW: I’m interested in poetry. I teach creative writing, and I love reading and writing poems. I’m a curious women, enchanted by everything strange and new. I like observe the small things in the world, because I believe from the small things could come great changes. I like theater. Recently I’ve been studying Yoga Philosophy. You can find more about my ideas and my poems in Italian on my long-time running blog at http://weisghizzi.ilcannocchiale.it or in English at newborn Code Is Poetry http://deindre.wordpress.com.

Originally posted by Elizabeth Krumbach in Full Circle Magazine Issue #47 on March 25, 2011

One Comment

  1. LGB
    Posted 2011-03-29 at 12:33:49 UTC | Permalink

    I am wondering if it’s really true, that Italy is truely an “anti-IT” environemnt. Allos me to explain this sentence: in my country there are tons of hardware stores, you can’t even pass hunred metres in the capital city not to pass some. But I was told that in Italy is totally different you can’t simply buy a “memory module” or something like this too easily because people are simply not interested and always firms/companies/enterprises are involved to get one for you for an extra price. Is it really true? Things like this does not affect other parts of the IT sectory in general, maybe even usage of open source materials and so on? Sorry, if my question seems to be stupid, my English is far from being perfect to express what I’d like to know.

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