If there's anything I learned from hack.summit() (more on that soon), it's that we need more mentorship opportunities. The Ubuntu community informally offers mentorship opportunities, but with the loss of the Ubuntu Beginners Team, the amount of mentorship, I believe, has declined. Without a formal and inviting place, I think a lot of people are left to kind of figure it out on their own. With so many documents being written to a more higher level of user, I think we really lose potential contributors.
With the goal of having Linux users also be Linux contributors, a band of friends and I (mostly from the Lubuntu Team) have put together a new project we call Linux Padawan. You might remember that padawans were apprentices to the Jedi Masters in Star Wars. So we seek to unite masters with padawans to be mentored in their learning and contributors to their respective community.
Note that wording. Linux Padawan is distro-agnostic. There are certainly many of us who are from various parts of the Ubuntu community, but not all of us are. Additionally, we don't want to shut the door on people who are not or may not be interested in joining the Ubuntu community. Of course, we'll continue to invite them in. ☺
I've set myself up there with the following areas of expertise: testing & bug squashing, community, programming, Lubuntu, BSD (yes, we're even going to support BSD!). If you need mentoring on any of these, please let me know.
I really want to focus my efforts on programming, though. I'm not the world's greatest programmer (yet), but I know enough that I can help foster people to become programmers. hack.summit() focused on how we need mentorship in programming. I couldn't agree more. Learning how to program is relatively easy. Taking that to the next level and actually making a contribution is a whole different story.
To that end, over the past couple of days, I have developed a fairly general introduction to the subject, with plenty of links. Please take a look at that here and let me know if you know of any other resources that can be added.
Most of all, I encourage you to consider learning programming. It's not as scary as it seems. Additionally, learning some of the tools and processes that programmers use can help you to successfully contribute to things like documentation. An exmaple is the Ubuntu Server Guide which is "programmed" in XML and whose development happens on Launchpad.
I guess I'm taking this a little farther than the Hour of Code which happens next week. I don't just want to contribute an hour to get kids into programming. Instead, I'd like to donate whatever time I need to help everyone find the resources they need to contribute code to open source projects. How can you refuse that offer?