21C3 Schedule Release 1.1.7

21st Chaos Communication Congress
Lectures and workshops

Picture of Druid Druid
Day 3
Location Saal 1
Start Time 11:00 h
Duration 01:00
ID 133
Type Lecture
Track Community
Language english

How To Herd Cats

Despite the hacker ethic of free information real life frameworks for constructive dialogue are sadly lacking. Interestingly a number of systems, from socratic dialogue to parliamentary procedure already exist for structuring conversation toward a goal. In this talk we will look at hacker workgroups from open source developers to CTF teams and look at what solutions have been tried, and what tools have been developed. Also, this topic lends itself to analysis of common hacker roles and social structures that define and impede growth and development within the community.

Any goal-oriented group has to deal with workflow issues, but with capable, creative people this can often be a larger challenge then completing the goal. This talk will attempt to draw the line between management, tools, and communication in dealing with volunteer or professional workgroups.

In terms of technique I will cover dialogue, debate, team management, hierarchies, and defining goals to determine necessary milestones/techniques. In terms of tools we will look at CVS, ticket systems, e-mail/instant mesaaging/IRC, and wikis for centralized data retrieval.

In terms of scenarios there will be two major sections, goal oriented development/teams, and general research groups. In the first category would be open source development teams, CTF teams, and IT departments. In the second category would be meeting groups (CCC, 2600).

Every section of this talk allows for a lot of expansion so the Q&A should be excellent. This talk will especially appeal to project managers, IT directors, educators, and involved hackers. Often the lack of social skills on the part of members of a team can destroy a project, this talk is meant to objectively analyze these weaknesses and suggest practical systems that allow people to work, learn, and even play together nicely.


Organizations with individuals(organizations goals do not represent the collective goals of participants)

The traditional management model and how it affects individuals


  1. Hierarchy
  2. Reporting
  3. Decision making


  1. bristle at uneducated criticism
  2. offer solutions without the opportunity to impliment
  3. without the opportunity to apply ideas, slow stagnation

The traditional teaming model and how it affects individuals


  1. Teams of peers
  2. Same field
  3. Roles


  1. if the other team members dont understand an idea, it wont be clear how pursuing it would be beneficial
  2. Only people experienced in a subject can make rational decisions concerning courses of action in that subject
  3. Concensus on goals
  4. teams reports as one entity to management

The resultant experience


1- Teams and individuals grouped within the hierarchy from one strata 2. Decisions come from above 3. Reports rise


  1. No new ideas due to matched skills, but matched skills cause needless disagreement to prove ability
  2. Only the least significant decisions are made by those best suited to make them
  3. Perceived lack of performance within social structures-despite individual performance-will result in social friction and potential managerial reprimand

Parallel problem solving (challenge)


  1. Break strata and share solutions from small groups
  2. Make task achievable - achievable tasks affect participants and empower individuals in a controllable way
  3. Diverse task - Integrate organizational goals to create a complex goal requiring multiple skills


  1. Heavy resource cost
  2. Perceived as distracting from core business

Constructive learning (educate)


  1. History
  2. OM, Model UN
  3. Comparison to transmission learning
  4. Multiple levels - cross training


  1. Heavy resource cost
  2. Distracting (challenges ideally do not relate to business objectives directly so as to diversify knowledge-engineers already know engineering) Organizations of individuals (Similarly interested individuals who form an organization with goals similar to its members)

Emergent Management

Need for acceptance

the resultant experience


Social friction

  1. Deadlines kill the reforms
  2. Lack of funding limits project to management, not involving the more populous, expert strata
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