Environment Variables
Decarbonize Software 2023 Preview with Adam Jackson
September 14, 2023
In this episode podcast producer for Environment Variables, Chris Skipper is joined by Adam Jackson, the Community Project Manager of the Green Software Foundation to speak about the upcoming Decarbonize Software 2023 Event happening on November 16th 2023. Adam also talks about his work in building green software communities globally, promoting meetups for the Green Software Foundation and his love for . To register to be part of Decarbonize Software 2023 click the link below!
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Adam Jackson:
But really this year's event is about our community and the stories they have to share. We're interested in seeing what people have done with green software in 2023. But yeah, the theme is about, the theme of the event is about empowering software practitioners to decarbonize sotware and to build communities and we want to see what people have done.

Chris Skipper: Welcome to this episode of Environment Variables. I'm your host, Chris Skipper, and in this episode, we will be discussing the upcoming Decarbonize Software 2023 event with the Green Software Foundation's Community Project Manager, Adam Jackson. Hello, Adam, and welcome to Environment Variables.

Adam Jackson: Hi, Chris. I'm really excited to be here.

Chris Skipper: Great, good to have you, and Just before we dive into the meat of this podcast for our listeners, could you please introduce yourself?

Adam Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm Adam Jackson. I'm the Community Project Manager at the Green Software Foundation. Really excited to be here, as I said. I've been with the Green Software Foundation a few months now. I've also got my own little company helping tech companies connect their communities. And I've recently been involved in setting up a bunch of green software meetups around the world.

Chris Skipper: Awesome for those who don't know me, I'm Chris Skipper. I can't say my name apparently. And I'm the podcast producer of Environment Variables. And a veritable noob when it comes to green software, and in fact, all things software. Um, but I feel like I have acquired a lot of knowledge about the subject that would hopefully make me a good addition to any pub quiz team.

Now, before we dive in, here's a reminder that everything we talk about will be linked in the show notes below this episode. So, to kick us off, I've got a really simple question for you. Let's talk about what your role is like at the Green Software Foundation. I know you've said, how long did you say you've been part of the Green Software Foundation

Adam Jackson: Now, four, four and a half months now.

Chris Skipper: four and a half months, so relatively green to the Green Software Foundation, but then again, the organization itself is also quite young. What does being the community project manager at the GSF entail and what are your responsibilities and goals in the role?

Adam Jackson: Uh, yeah, sure. So it's, it's quite a broad role, um, because community is a very big part of the Green Software Foundation. Um, but essentially it's helping to connect people to the resources of the GSF. So, um, some of the things I'm involved in include the, um, running the events. At the G S F working very closely with my colleague Namrata, um, that includes our Decarbonize software event that's coming up in November, includes our hackathon that'll take place in the first half of next year, and a bunch of other events as well.

And then I run the meetup project, so that's about getting tens of thousands of people connected with local Green software Meetup community groups around the world. I'm also helping our organizations, we have member organizations in the GSF, um, helping them to build their internal green software communities.

And then finally I'm building a new program, which I can't actually talk about too much today, but hopefully that'll help highlight and celebrate some of the people around the world who are making a huge contribution to green software. And there's some really amazing people out there, so we want to highlight the great work that they're doing too.

Chris Skipper: Awesome. So this, uh, secret project, I guess you could call it, um, is more of a, I don't know, you can't tell us that many details about it, but when's the sort of, what sort of, what's the sort of target launch date for that? Little

Adam Jackson: Oh, Decarbonize Software. Oh,

Chris Skipper: Oh, that is

Adam Jackson: converges. Yeah, yeah, no, but the, yeah, yeah, we're going to be making a couple of exciting announcements at Decarbonize Software, so that's why I don't want to spoil it for our audience today.

Chris Skipper: All right. We'll definitely dive into more detail about Decarbonize Software. But first, let's just talk a little bit more about you. Where did your journey with green software start? And how did you come to find yourself at the Green Software Foundation?

Adam Jackson: Yeah, Chris, I love that you describe yourself as a green software noob because that's that's sort of me as well. Um, I'm very much reliant on, um, these a lot of experts in the Green Software Foundation telling me how these things really work, but, um, but I'm passionate about the environment, but, um, anyway, I, um, I guess my story in this sort of space really began in my previous company, so I've worked in Microsoft for about 12 years.

maybe a few years before joining the GSF. And my first job with Microsoft was actually an intern in Legal and Corporate Affairs, nothing to do with developers or software practitioners at all. But I started working with developer communities in 2014, back in the Windows phone days. Don't laugh too much about that.

That ended really well. I ended up being a program manager in Microsoft's Developer Relations team. And I also did a stint in developer marketing and um, yeah, I guess it was a few years ago, people really started talking a lot more about the environmental impact of software and of it more widely, um, as people started getting rid of their data centers and moving everything to the cloud.

At first it was just, it was a problem that had been taken away and then they started to think, oh, there's still a data center somewhere. There's still a network, there's still all these devices. And, um, actually I, um, I'd worked with. Asim Hussain, um, in the Developer Relations team. And many of our listeners will know that he set up and shares the Green Software Foundation.

So, um, he, when I, when I left Microsoft earlier this year, um, he reached out to me, see if I'd like to do something along the lines of what I did there, but for the foundation. Um, so I'm, I'm not an expert on green software. Um, I'm not a developer either, but I've spent a lot of time working with developers, but we always say in the foundation as well, it's not just the developer on the team, but it's also the team around them that can help decarbonize software.

So hopefully I, hopefully I do bring something to the party. And, um, yeah, I mean, I'm interested about the environment outside as well. I, you know, I want to see how I can decarbonize my life. We've just got solar panels, um, and they, I was going to say these, they do work in the UK, but I'm looking outside and we've got a thick fog this morning.

I'm currently getting about 60 watts out of them, so it's not, not great today, but, uh, solar in a battery system, you know, it's, it's really interesting. I've really got into looking at my dashboards to see, you know, what time do we draw power from the grid to top up those batteries? Um, am I doing that at a less carbon intensive time of day?

I'm looking, I use the data from Electricity Maps and it tells me what time of day I need to top the battery up. Is the greenest? I drive. Yeah, I drive an ev, so I'm trying, can be better, but I'm not, I'm not a hundred percent of the way there yet. So even though I'm not building green software myself, I'm also thinking as an individual as to what sort of impact I can have.

Chris Skipper: Yeah. That's awesome. I think having that mindset, even in your day to day life will give you the right approach to your job as the community manager, I think I would hope at least that most people that are part of the Green Software Foundation do that sort of thing. I know Asim has talked on this podcast before about his EV.

As well. And you're not the only EV owner that's been on the podcast , but No, that's good. And I really, I would like to afford one, but if I could, I would, but I, I unfortunately cannot. But yeah. Um, I probably won't put that in there. in the final edit.

Adam Jackson: they need, they need to come down in price quite a bit, to be fair. So, um,

Chris Skipper: I think they will eventually, I think when, when they become more commonplace.

And eventually fuel is phased out. Fossil fuels are phased out. They eventually will become more commonplace. But anyway, that's not what this podcast is about. Um, although yes, I do quite fancy them. I do quite fancy buying one. Um, yeah. So let's talk about creating a community that is focused on green software.

It's obviously a prime focus for the Green Software Foundation. But how would people go about creating a green software community inside their organizations? And what are the first steps someone could take to achieving this?

Adam Jackson: Yeah, I'm really glad that you asked that, Chris, because my job is focused on creating both external and internal communities, and internal communities inside organizations.

Yeah, building community at work, it's going to be different in every organization, but I've got a few tips. The first one is to really think about Culture and communication, bringing things together, who's the key stakeholders and champions that are passionate about green software inside your organization?

That could be developers, managers, executives, you might have a sustainability team if your company's big enough to have one. Um, what do you want to achieve and how are they going to be able to help you, um, get the word out? The GSF has some great suggestions for what you should prioritize, but what actually works for your company?

Um, you need to make sure that you've got a clear vision and also to ensure you make it worth it for the company too. You do want their support in building a community after all. Quite often, well crafted, efficient software is green software. Efficiency drives cost savings in the long term. So that's worth it for the organization and it's worth bringing people together to talk about that.

So set some goals you want to achieve, um, think about how you want to communicate that and think about how your community... Communicates and collaborates. And depending on the culture in your organization or where you are, how are you gonna bring people together? Are, are you mostly operating digitally or do you have a lot of people together in person?

Could you do some lunch and learns or some socials? I love the social, but if you are spread all over the world, you need to think about how are we gonna connect people and excite them and, um, and, and incentivize them to bring them together.

So, and then the finally, you, um, you need to think about. Who can help you communicate this?

So if you're a big company, you might have an internal comms team, or you might be smaller, so you might have to take it on yourself. But do you have company newsletters? Do you have company all hands? And if you're a smaller organization, how are you going to keep folks engaged? Because small company, you've got, you know, lots of different priorities.

Going on and you've got to try and handle them all it. It's different for every organization, but there's lots of help and suggestions online. And then don't forget to evaluate how your company is doing as well when you know how the community inside's doing, because that work's. Never done. Once you've set something up, that doesn't mean the work's done.

You've got to keep up that momentum.

Chris Skipper: Yeah, absolutely. I loved your answer about, uh, the setting up social environment or making having those sorts of conversations that you might have at the drinking fountain if you're in an office or perhaps via the, I don't know, nudging someone on Teams or something like that to talk. I don't use Teams, so, um, but, but yeah, um, that kind of reminded me of the saying that Asim had about creating avenues for green software or avenues towards green software can come through it.

Literally talking to one or two people in the organization that might have a passion for the environment or the passion for green software, more specifically. Um, I know we joked about EVs earlier, but it might be as simple as seeing someone who's an exec from your company with an EV in the car park and going up to them and being like, Hey, I have this idea for setting up this community within our organization.

And that could be the starting point for your community within the organization, if you don't have one already.

Adam Jackson: Yeah, we're all individuals after all, and I doubt that anyone is just interested in green software and doesn't have any other thoughts about sustainability. Think about what brings you together, and don't, we don't have to limit your communities, and we say this for external, for our meetup groups as well, you don't have to talk about software in every single talk.

Sometimes you might want to talk about something else as well, a related concern, and you're all individuals, you've been brought together by these. These shared interests, so let's talk about them.

Chris Skipper: Yeah, absolutely. Cool. Okay, so let's talk about the elephant in the room or the topic of this podcast, which is Decarbonize Software 2023, the event that'll be happening in November. In fact, the date is November the 16th, and it's a purely online event. Can you provide an overview of the event and its goals, especially in terms of promoting green software principles and practices, please?

Adam Jackson: Yeah, absolutely.

So the, you know, the event is all about showcasing the latest advancements in green software by the community. And we're inviting speakers to share their experience and insights. So I think, as I mentioned earlier, we are going to have a few announcements from the GSF. But really, most of the agenda is about featuring demos and lightning talks by our community.

So we're, uh, we're opening up, basically, to people to come and talk about things they're passionate about. And in terms of who can attend, the event is open to anyone who's interested in learning more. about green software and how it can address the global climate change challenge. It's a great opportunity to network with other green software enthusiasts and experts.

There'll be a big social around that. We'll have, uh, we'll have the chat open. We'll have people hopefully writing loads of stuff on, on LinkedIn and. Do we call it X now? X? Twitter X? And other social media platforms, of course. So it's not just about the event. It's about the community as well. But yeah, the event is free.

You can register now on the event website and we'll put that in the links. And if you'd like to speak at the event, you can also submit your proposal through our call for speakers. That's going to be open until the end of September. Um, and that's listed on the website. Uh, and don't forget, you can all, you'll, we'll also be.

Talking a lot about decarb on our social channels. So we are active on LinkedIn and X and we've got our newsletter. And yeah, we're basically, we're going to be talking about it a lot.

Chris Skipper: That's awesome. Yeah, I know you mentioned announcements, um, and I know last year there was a big announcement at, uh, Decarbonize Software, which was, uh, the announcement of the SCI, or the Software Carbon Intensity Specification, as well as the Linux Foundation Training Program. So, are there any, any little sort of sneak peek you can give us for announcements, or is it all going to be hush hush and you just have to register and you're going to have to find out?

Adam Jackson: Well, we are an open source organization. So if you look hard enough, you'll find some little hints here and there, but if you like SCI, then you'll like this year's event as well. I, you know, I think, I think you'll see some, some very positive developments in how to, how to measure. Inside your organization and how to make things easier and I think as I teased earlier, we'll be talking a bit more about some of the amazing contributors and experts in our community and how we celebrate those.

But really this year's event is about our community and the stories they have to share. We're interested in seeing what people have done with Green Software in 2023.

The theme of the event is about empowering software practitioners to decarbonise on software and to build communities. And we want to see what people have done.

Chris Skipper: Great. So on that theme of empowering green software practitioners, could you elaborate more on the types of topics or areas that you're particularly interested in receiving submissions for on the talks? etc.

Adam Jackson: Yeah, so I don't want to give too much guidance, because we really want to see what people have brought and their ideas. But, yeah, we were looking for lightning talks and demos covering topics such as how to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of software. Especially if that's using tools that GSF has built.

We'd love to see how people are using SCI and carbon intensity and things like that. We'd love to hear about how people have used the green software principles and patterns to optimize performance and efficiency of their software. We'd love to see demos, so if you've got a demo showing how your software is, is green or what your company is doing to measure.

I saw, um, some amazing demos recently with some fantastic dashboards and I thought, wow, this is amazing. This is green software in action and we can see it. I'd love to see things like that. And if people have some great stories about how they've collaborated and contributed to the community as well.

We'd like to hear that. But really bring your ideas. The one rule we're keeping is to keep things snappy. We're going to keep those talks and demos to about 10 to 12 minutes to allow people to ask questions. And when it's an online event, you've always got to keep things moving. We're looking really for short talks, not long demos.

Bring your ideas to the table.

Chris Skipper: Yeah, absolutely. I was thinking if people wanted inspiration, would looking at the Green Software Foundation's YouTube channel be a good way, good place to point them? Because I only say this because the CarbonHack 2022 event that happened last year, there was some really great submissions done via video.

And I thought the summaries of those projects were really nice and concise the way people do them. I think the videos were somewhere between one minute and I think the longest one might've been about 10 or 12 minutes.

Adam Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. Oh yeah, absolutely. I would definitely recommend looking through that and, um, of course we've also got all of our, um, podcasts on the YouTube channel as well, so if you want to listen to some of those as well, always a good

Chris Skipper: With the transcript, there's no, none of our faces, which is great. Um, you talked about the SOGS report or the state of green software reports as a central topic for people to talk about. What would be a good approach to leveraging this information in their talks during this event? And where could people find more information about the SOGS report?

Adam Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. Um, I'm really glad that you've, um, asked that. So, um, interestingly, we've actually prepared a bunch of resources based on the state of green software for our meetup communities, so, um, I've already done a load of slides. So if people want to nick my slides, then they're in our Meetup documentation, if people know where to look.

Maybe we'll put a link to that in there, in the list afterwards. State of Green Software is a wonderful resource for our members and communities. There's, I think there's about 30 insights on there. We've laid out our State of Green Software site in a really bite sized fashion, so you can look at the insights that interest you and then get some data on that. And that's a really good way of building a talk actually, whether it's for Decarb, or whether you're looking to do a community talk. So take a look and see what interests you, get some inspiration. If you want more information or some slides from me then you can always contact me as well.

But we definitely recommend some people going a bit more in depth into some of the insights that we've recommended on our site.

Chris Skipper: Yeah, so I think if you go to stateof.greensoftware.foundation, you can find the website, and the website is really easy to get around to navigate. I know this from having to research questions for guests about this, but each of those insights, if you click on them, you can just see such incredible detail.

And we actually have a podcast episode about the state of green software report as well, um, which was with Tamara Kneese. Tamara Kneese, who was the lead researcher, I think, on the SOGS report. And she did a really in depth episode, uh, with Chris Adams. So yeah, we'll put a link down to that one as well. Um, Cool.

Uh, so let's talk more about green software communities in general. Green software communities within organizations seem to be a significant aspect of this year's event. We also talked about empowering green software practitioners. Are there any examples of successful communities within organizations?

And if so, how were they built and fostered?

Adam Jackson: Yeah, I think, I think there's actually loads of examples, and some of them are really formal and others are informal, um, and one of the, um, I was really lucky to go to We Are Developers in, um, in Berlin a couple of months ago to talk about green software, and I saw a talk from Amadeus, which is one of our GSF members, and they, um, they, they did this amazing presentation with loads of dashboards, I love dashboards, so I got really excited, but I, they didn't have a formal community, they just had a group that they'd used.

I, I dunno whether they, I think they used Microsoft Teams or Slack and they just had everyone in together that was interested in these topics. And that was building, building sort of green software insights. So it doesn't have to be super, super formal. Um, but everyone does it differently. Um, recently we heard um, from Avanade, um, Avanade are a GSF steering member, um, they've been really consistent. They are a huge consulting organization, so they have to be. Um, they've put lots of effort into helping people build their own local communities within the organization. They've used the tools at their disposal, including they've used, they've used their SharePoint intranet sites to, um, put loads of information about Green Software and lots of links to Green Software Foundation resources - where people can find them. They've also looked at Microsoft teams and created channels for people who are interested and brought 'em together into one digital space. And then they've really thought about how green software aligns with their culture. Um, and what it means for their customers and they've, they've used green software to really improve their business.

I think that's what really makes it so powerful as it's not, they don't see green software as a cost. They see it as an asset that helps them reach customers, helps them do a better job with their customers, helps them find new clients along the way. Um, and, um, you know, and, and they've really empowered individuals to, they haven't said this is the way you have to do it, but they've empowered people to say, start your own local communities.

And they talked about how their team in Paris had decided to do a complete week full of green software activities based off some of the global resources that they'd shared. And I love that, just inspiring other people to take action.

Chris Skipper: Yeah, absolutely. It's interesting that you mentioned that, that people see it are now starting to see it as an asset in those companies. I'm curious as if to whether that should be more of a unique selling point, I know perhaps it's not the focus of the Green Software Foundation, but for those people who are developing green software and who want to perhaps build communities within their organizations, using it as a sales tactic, And perhaps, you know, uh, uh, as they, as the classic phrase always goes, always be closing a closing mechanism in sales to actually get those clients through the door.

Adam Jackson: Yeah, I think it's, um, it's going to be seen more and more, actually, over the next few years. It's not just, it's not just something that gives people the edge. It's going to become a requirement. You know, we're seeing already, um, if, you know, if you're a bank, um, or an, you know, regulated industry, you're already being asked about what your sustainability credentials are. So when you're looking for someone to help you improve your business processes or your software, you're going to want someone that can actually help you be greener from a software perspective. Regulation is catching up and Certainly culture is already there and people are, people see this as important now.

So I think, no, it's not just, it's not even an optional thing. It will be, become an essential part of selling your services in the future. And that'll, um, that will also be to end customers as well. We we're seeing, uh, I dunno, um, the B B C did, uh, a, um, TV show, just a one-off on, um, the carbon impact of streaming.

Um, and this was probably 18 months ago, and they talked about Netflix. I don't want to pick on Amazon Prime. We'll try and name as many as possible. Um, but streaming,

Chris Skipper: There are streaming services that are available.

Adam Jackson: absolutely, yeah, but these streaming services have a carbon impact, and people started realizing that, and it won't be long before consumers start realizing that any interaction they have with software, um, creates carbon emissions.

And they're going to start asking the people they buy services from, how green are you? Yeah, we're going to see, we're going to see a lot more pressure from the market, so to speak, in the future.

Chris Skipper: Yeah. And I think for people that perhaps are listening and thinking, oh, I've stumbled across this podcast and I'm a developer, or I work at software and this actually sounds something that's really could be an opportunity for you a either as a career um, prospect, or just because you're really passionate about green software and the environment.

Um, this, if you are, if you become part of the green software foundation, you are at the precipice of something that's effectively brand new in the space. So my, my suggestion is that you attend Decarb, Decarb software, Decarbonize Software 2023 in order to learn more about it. So with that in mind, where can people, how do people register for Decarbonize Software 2023? And what do they need to do in order to register as a speaker? Is there anything that they need to do that's special or any forms that you need to fill out? Anything like that?

Adam Jackson: Yeah, sure. So, uh, so registration is open now at decarb.greensoftware.foundation. And we'll add that to the links, of course, as well for this episode. Um, our call for speakers is open until the end of September. Um, and we've also got that, that link is on the main registration site. So if you go to decarb.greensoftware.foundation, scroll down, you'll see a bit more information about becoming a speaker. Um, and if you click on that, that will take you to a form and it will ask you what talk, what sort of talk do you want to do? What's it called and what's the content? Um, and yeah, we're really encouraging people to put their idea forward you don't have to put a huge amount of information so you don't have to have a you know a full presentation built or anything like that but tell us about your idea tell us what you want to talk about um and then um if you submit that i think it's the 25th of september is the deadline so you don't have too long um you know, so please put your, your idea forward sooner rather than later, and then we'll, we'll get back to you at the start of October, um, to, um, you know, and if we won't be able to accommodate everyone, if we, if we get loads of responses, um, Decarb, uh, the Decarb event is two and a half hours long, so there's only so many people we can fit in, but for the people that we can't fit in, we'll try and run some additional events over the following few months, and we'll fit all of those talks in as well.

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Chris Skipper: Yeah, absolutely. Or maybe you could become a another guest on the podcast if you're, if you don't make those cuts. Always looking for guests, always looking for

Adam Jackson: Yeah,

Chris Skipper: Awesome. So, that's it for this episode about Decarbonize Software 2023. It looks like it's gonna be a really interesting and enlightening event and we really encourage everyone to register for the event via the link in the show notes below.

Before we head off, we normally end the show with a closing question and for this episode, Adam, I wanna ask you, If there was one tool you could point people to that would really help them start a green software community, what would it be and why?

Adam Jackson: I'm really glad you've asked. Really simple, so head to our meetup guide. We will put the link in the show notes. Um, that is a comprehensive document that we've built that explains how we run our external meetup groups around the world. Um, and I'd also take a quick look at our meetup network as well. Um, I will put the link in.

Um, there is a map that shows where all of our existing communities are and what already exists. Our existing communities always need more support, so if you're in one of the global locations that already has a group, then get in touch with us if you'd like to be an organizer or if you'd like to help that group in some way.

If you are already organizing a green software meetup that's not affiliated with the Green Software Foundation, we would love to help promote your group and build, add that to our map and build our global family of meetups. And yeah, if you're somewhere that doesn't have... Any community activity, then please get in touch with us to, um, you know, to get, to get a group set up.

Read the guides, all of the contact details are in there. Um, we, you know, we want to hit the tens of thousands of Meetup members very soon and we need your help to reach people around the world. You know your local community better than anyone else. So, let us help you build those communities where you are.

Chris Skipper: Yeah, awesome. Thank you. So, we've come to the end of this podcast episode. All that's left for me to say is, again, thank you, Adam, for coming on. It was really great and really insightful. I am sure people are looking forward to Decarbonize Software 2023. Don't forget about those deadlines. September 25th is the deadline for talks and, uh, the event itself is happening on November 16th and you can register right now.

Registration is open. Thanks, Adam. Thanks for coming on.

Adam Jackson: Thanks. Thanks very much, Chris. It was great to come on and talk about community, talk about our Decarb event. Um, hopefully you'll have me again soon.

Chris Skipper: Yeah, absolutely. We would definitely want to have you more on this podcast. If we have more events, uh, for the Green Software Foundation, we'd love the community manager to come on and talk about them. Um, anyway, thank you. Uh, that's all for this episode of Environment Variables. All the resources for this episode are in the show description below and you can visit. podcast.greensoftware.foundation to listen to more episodes of Environment Variables.

See you all on the next episode. Bye for now.

Adam Jackson: Bye.