** Kiki (K): ** Hello everyone! We return to Kartini Technology with Kiki and Galuh as usual. And, today we have a guest who you can say is the most requested guest anyway. I think I’ve heard people request her several times. So welcome Farah!
** Farah (F): ** Hello!
** K: ** [Laughter] How are you?
** F: ** Are there really many requests? [Laughter] Good.
** K: ** Good?**
F: ** In the middle of a pandemic, good.
** K: ** Thank God. That’s good .. Yeah, even one of Kartini Teknologi’s guests has a request from Farah to be invited, so, it’s time ..
** F: ** Thank you, for inviting me.
** K: ** Farah, maybe if you are familiar with the tech community in Indonesia, not only in Jakarta I’m sure, you might have heard the name Farah. She is like the queen of Indonesian tech community. So, she is now the organizer of AWS Group Jakarta. But I’m sure, there are a lot of her roles, not just the AWS User Group. So later we will talk more about the tech community in Indonesia and Farah herself. But before that, as usual we start from how you got interested in tech. How is the story?
** F: ** So actually when I was little I was often invited by my late father to his office. He gave the Windows 95 guide book. I was just a little kid, I didn’t know why he gave it to me. He told me it’s so that I have something to play with. My dad was also quite busy. Then I read it, out of curiosity. I got hooked shortly after, the more pages that I read, they were so colorful. When kids see colors, they usually become hyperactive, happy, curious, right?
** K: ** But you have just read the book right? You haven’t seen the computer yet.
** F: ** Not yet.
** K: ** Oh wow. Okay…
** F: ** Funny, right? So yeah I was very happy reading the book. Then the next day I was taught to play computer. I was delighted every time I could poke on a keyboard, you know, those keyboards that people nowadays call as—
** K: ** Mechanical keyboard?
** F: ** They sound so good, right?
** K: ** Yes, but I don’t really understand either.
** F: ** And finally as I got older I became even more curious. What else can a computer do besides typing?
** K: ** How old were you then?
** F: ** I think I was only able to operate the computer smoothly when I was in elementary school. Elementary school, 2nd grade. At that time I already had elementary computer lessons.
** K: ** Huh? 2nd graders already had computer lessons?
** F: ** Yes, we had them.
** K: ** Wow. I think in my elementary school even English was taught in 5th grade. Maybe because I was in the village. Wow, you were taught all this in the 2nd grade. That’s exciting!
** F: ** But the computers we were using were old ones, it took a long time to wait for them, they are Intel Pentium…
** K: ** So each kid had one computer?
** F: ** Each kid had one computer. Back then it was such a luxury, wasn’t it?
** K: ** Yes, I had a computer lesson in junior high school, each computer was usually used by two or three kids. Because there weren’t many, we didn’t have many computers to be used by one child at a time.
** Galuh (G): ** Same case with me. Sometimes there were 2 people for 1 computer.
** K: ** Right? This elementary school has one computer for one kid. Isn’t it really luxurious? [Laugh]
** F: ** So my school was actually under the Pertamina foundation, if I remember correctly.
** K: ** Aah, makes sense. Okay.
** F: ** So sometimes we had grants, and that’s why they could supply many computers.
** K: ** Okay. [Laugh]
** F: ** From there, I feel like I could already use it, but there was something lacking, there was this feeling of dissatisfaction. What else can you actually do? So I started tinkering. I remember that at the time, I forgot whether it was elementary school or junior high. We had just had internet connection at home. But at that time, the connection to the computer in my room was being limited.
** K: ** Okay
** F: ** So I was looking for a way to enjoy the internet until late night. Then I started tinkering.
** K: ** So you were getting mischievous.
** F: ** Yes, geez.
** K: ** Then did you succeed bypassing it?
** F: ** I was successful. From there on, I began to explore again. Have you heard of Microsoft Front Page?
** G: ** I have heard of it but I didn’t use it. It’s to make a website right?
** F: ** Yes. Well, I used that at first. From there …
** K: ** That was middle school, right? Then, did you finally take IT in college?
** F: ** No. [Laugh]. I went to college to major in International Relations.
** K: ** Oh, great! I just found out Farah majored in International Relations (IR). Why is that?
** F: ** Yeah, that’s quite far, huh?
** K: ** Yes, but then you finally returned to technology. What’s the story?
** F: ** IR was also my childhood dream. When I was at this airport, I was looking at this person who seemed to be a diplomat. He was wearing a suit, very neat, talked in English. Then I was like, I want to become like that person.
** K: ** I see. So, the initial goal was to become a diplomat? Oooh… great! But then why did you pivot to technology again?
** F: ** Because it’s fun. And the people in it are more diverse? So yeah, I thought oh I could still survive in technology. So I finally decided to return to tech again. But since I majored in IR, I wasn’t following the technology trends in the past few years. So it was quite difficult to catch up with everything.
** K: ** So you had to catch up on a lot of things, because you majored in IR. But it seems like you’re focusing on communities more, right?
** F: ** Yep.
** K: ** Well, how did it start? Did you enjoy communities from the start? Or did you just jump in like that?
** F: ** At first? Back then I often helped to answer questions from friends who were just learning. And as time passed by, we moved to Telegram, so usually we were on Facebook but then we moved to Telegram. Then I often noticed there were things like spams. After a while, I became an administrator. So that’s how it started, organizing a group… then it didn’t take long for me to go to other meetups and then I thought “oh, seems like there are other things that can be improved. So, in addition to being more visible, the benefits will also be more beneficial to other people.” From there, I braved myself to become a volunteer. The first time was in Python Indonesia. There was one year where I organized all offline meetups in Jakarta.
** K: ** Wow. Including Python 2018 did we meet?
** F: ** 2018 yes. Also the 2019 one.
** K: ** Oh, wow. So, fun fact for Kartini Teknologi listeners. Before we started the recording, we just realized that the three of us had met at the 2018 Python Conference in Jakarta. It was the one at Kalbis, right?
** F: ** Yes, that’s right.
** K: ** And that’s the first time I met Galuh and the first time I met Farah, right?
** F: ** Really. It was also the first time meeting Galuh.
** K: ** Oh my God. [Laugh]. PyCon brings us all together.
** F: ** Yes, that’s right. [Laugh].
** K: ** How many communities do you handle right now? It’s not just AWS right?
** F: ** Not just AWS. Python ID too, Kotlin ID too.
** K: ** Wow, okay. So three.
** F: ** Then, JVM too.
** K: ** Oh, my. Four.
** F: ** [Laughter]. There are so many that you can’t count. [Laugh].
** K: ** What’s your role—are you an administrator, or also the event organizer, or what?
** F: ** For some of them I’m the administrator, but for some others I’m also the organizer. Sometimes even though I don’t take care of the offline meetup directly, if for example there is a sponsor, I usually handle it. So it’s just like being a community representative from one community to another.
** K: ** I see. Wow. So it’s not wrong if we nickname Farah the mother of the tech communities in Indonesia.
** F: ** There are many others, it’s not just me, don’t worry.
** K: ** But it’s very rare that we have a woman involved in many communities. So, it’s cool… you’re handling a lot of communities, are the challenges of each community different or relatively the same?
** F: ** Almost the same. It’s just that we need to pay attention to the dynamics too. For example there is one community that is only visible online. They don’t want to make an offline meetup. We can’t also force them “please, make an offline meetup.” There are also those with offline meetups, and they also have an annual events. There are also those who do offline meetups, but for example they don’t have a group chat like Python ID, Kotlin ID. Well, there are also those who are like that.
** K: ** I see. Means it’s different depending on the dynamics of each community. Hm, what are the ups and downs of getting involved in the tech communities in Indonesia?
** F: ** There are a lot of things I enjoy. Meeting new people, learning new things, not even just a matter of technology. But for example there is a fresh grad, who wants to apply for work, but they are confused about the preparation. Usually there are many people who would like to help. Oh these are the things that you need to prepare. So, it’s not just a matter of hard skills, there are also soft skills. If it’s sad, because there aren’t as many people who want to be community administrators as they want to be in the community. So sometimes, we feel, I feel, there are not many people who want take care of the community. Moreover, I have quite a lot of positions to take care of. Sometimes people even say, “you never sleep don’t you?” Oh, for those of you who don’t know, people usually call me Sosis, Farah, Mbak Sosis, or Mas Sosis, in the Telegram.
** K: ** It’s because your nickname is Sosispanggang isn’t it?
** F: ** Yes, because the nickname is Sosispanggang. Oh, and one more thing… internally sometimes we often have misunderstandings, like miscommunication, that’s all…
** K: ** That’s all. [Laugh]. Though I’m sure in reality it is more complex, because dealing with people is definitely complicated. Especially the community, where there are many people. At work, we usually deal with just one team. In communities there are way many more people.
** G: ** And the interactions are mostly online, right? Like coordinations and stuff, might be different from working in the office on site where you can meet people face to face, right?? It seems like there are lots of organizing online.
** F: ** In Python ID itself we have had several meetups with fellow organizers. Administrators too. Maybe hopefully other communities can also do the same so they become more solid in the future.
** G: ** From your experience after having been involved in the world of the Indonesian community, according to you what are the characteristics of the technology community in Indonesia? Is it easy to manage, or are there a lot of initiative, or are there other characteristics that are particularly striking?
** F: ** Easy to manage, yeah, and also the initiatives are so many that we don’t know what to do because of how good the initiatives are, we sometimes get confused about how to coordinated them. Then there are also many who are not from Jakarta and they want to have an offline meetup but are confused about who to contact. But there are also those who really want to do whatever they want. But in communities, we cannot tolerate bullying, flaming, those things are not acceptable in the community. Because we want the community to be a place for everyone to learn, share together without having to see differences such as “oh A has been in the world of technology for many years while the others have just started. But B feels awkward if they want to talk to A because they are afraid of being mocked, or something like that. That’s the challenge for myself as an organizer, how to create a community that is supportive.
.** K: ** Which means creating a healthy community.
** F: ** Yes, that’s right.
** K: ** Does it mean the rules are different for each community?
** F: ** Yes.
** K: ** Well, on AWS, for example. That’s actually a community that is affiliated with a particular organization, right? Or suppose Python, is there a foundation or not?
** F: ** There is.
** K: ** Well, something like that. How involved are they with the local community? What’s the difference between one organization and another?
** F: ** First, there is almost no difference now. It’s mostly just who are you affiliated to for example. It almost doesn’t make any difference. Now, each community has the same goal, which is to share right? It might just be a bit different in terms of the method on how they deliver it. There are those who only have telegram lectures, then there are webinars, there almost no difference now
.** K: ** But does it mean there is no interference of the organization? So it all comes down to the organizers?
** F: ** Yes.
** K: ** I’m reminded of Mozilla myself. Because there is such a thing as Community Participation Guidelines (CPG). So, in Mozilla even though the activities are up to the people, they have to follow our CPG. The point is for anticipation and, creating a healthy community. I see. Is there such thing in other organizations?
** F: ** If there are community guidelines for certain communities, they are provided. But for those who don’t have it, there is a Code of Conduct for each of them, it can be applied directly in the community. Then in some of the communities they’re not following the rules yet, and no one has made the rules as well. So, these organizers are responsible for creating a healthy community, and thus the rules are made.
.** K: ** Okay, that means you also initiated the rules yourself, right? But maybe you consult with the organization too?
** F: ** Yes, that’s right. So there must be one vote if we want to make rules, or we want to break the rules themselves.
.** K: ** Okay. You’ve been in the communities for a long time. What do you think, are the benefits in joining communities?
** F: ** Fortunately, there are a lot of them. As I said, from meeting new people, new knowledge, I’m thankful if there are many who feel helped. For example, getting a new job, getting a new business opportunity, a lot that can be obtained from the community itself.
** K: ** What about your personal experience? Can you tell us?
** F: ** [Laughter]. I mostly meet, new friends, new acquaintances, and various new points of view too. Because in the end, what I get from the community will be returned to the community so that it can be circulated to others as well.
** K: ** I totally agree with the perspective. Especially if it’s in the global community, we learn a lot of things we didn’t know before or didn’t even think about. If I’m not mistaken ,you were also invited by AWS to their conference in Las Vegas, right? Last year wasn’t it?
** F: ** Yes, in 2019.
** K: ** So what did you do?
** F: ** So I was there for a week for the conference. So, there were so many people sharing. Then there was also DeepRacer, it’s a championship. Right then it was the final, it was really fun watching it.
** K: ** Is it a competition or what?
** F: ** So they have a DeepRacer Championship, it was the final tournament in Las Vegas.
** K: ** Oh, okay. So, same time as the conference, yeah?
** F: ** Yes, so we didn’t only have sessions that have a lot of benefits, we were not just talking about cloud computing, IoT is everything, but we also met with other organizers. Then shared with each other, so for example, this community made this, we can do that too. What if there is a problem, or about a meetup, what do you think can be improved. Something like that.
** G: ** Now, talk about improvement. According to Farah itself, what do you think can be improved from the technology community in Indonesia? For example, whether it’s inclusivity, or maybe in Indonesia we’re still too Java-centric, or is there another opinion?
** F: ** Yeah. I still feel that the community is now still centered on Java. Although now it may start to spread. Some are in Bali, some are in Medan, some are in Kalimantan. But not as much as in Java. Also, one of the members in a women community reached out to me. She really wants to be join (the communities), but afraid of getting unpleasant treatment. So, there are some women who sometimes feel uncomfortable. It’s also still our own homework. Then also, for example, during a meetup, they keep discussing basic topics and do not go up to the next level. At the advanced level as well, sometimes many people are still new, sometimes they still don’t understand. So there comes a rather big gap. That’s the problem now.
** K: ** But as a woman in the technology community which is more dominated by men, from your own experience, what is the challenge as a woman in the technology community?
** F: ** Not once or twice, I had to face people who were bullying others or were pissed off because of something. So sometimes also as the only woman, I have to be mentally strong to handle someone like that. You can’t get emotional or anything. You have to see it from the other sides as well, and only then you can respond calmly.
** K: ** Yeah. So you must be cool headed when dealing with people like that.
** F: ** Yes.
** K: ** But so far have there been any unique experiences during handling conflicts in the community? Maybe there is no need to tell the conflict, but can you tell us about the lessons learned?
** F: ** Sometimes as an organizer or administrator who has the power, sometimes they have friends who want to bypass the community rules. Rules are rules. Whether it’s your friends or other people, you must adhere to the rules. If we are not strict in such a small matter how about the future when we make big decisions?
** K: ** I see. Yes usually, if they feel they are close to certain powerful people, they feel like they have the power to do things like that.
** G: ** Yes,and ifpeople ask for an exception that’s a problem right? If, for example, you only allow one person, later someone else will ask for the same treatment as well.
** F: ** That’s right. So you must be fair with everyone, right?
** G: ** Yep. Really. Agree.
** F: ** Even though our friends will tell us “ah, you’re not loyal.” That’s not the case. We are still friends. But if there are rules in the community, please follow them.
** K: ** It must be difficult to hold offline events in this situation, right? You can’t do it anymore. We also do not know when it will end. So how do the technology communities in Indonesia adapt to this situation? Are they starting to shift to an online events or what?
** F: ** Fortunately, before the current condition, other communities in the past years have already started shifting to online meetups, webinars, everything. So, in situations like the current COVID-19 situation, we are already flexible. They want to make an online webinar, and with an online webinar, there is more audience that can be reached, right?
** K: ** Yes, that’s right.
** F: ** We can reach anyone. If for example there are still people who find it difficult to take part in an online webinar, we can do kuliah telegram/kulgram (lectures in Telegram). So people share them in Telegram telegrams via chats.
** K: ** Kulgram huh?
** F: ** Yes, kulgram.
** G: ** One thing I noticed is that by shifting to this webinar, there is a wider reach. Previously, you said that meetups are still centered on Java. But maybe with the many webinars we have now, people outside of Java can also be reached as well.
** F: ** Yes, that’s right.
** K: ** In the communities that you’re handling, do you have an online events or webinars?
** F: ** We have them at AWS there is. Some other communities are also starting to adjust. But, from our own, we are not forcing them to have online webinars. If they can, and there is a time, that’s okay. If they want to make kulgram, who is the speaker, how do we facilitate the moderation.
** K: ** Means that the organizer also accommodates as long as there is someone who can handle it, right?
** F: ** Yes, that’s right
.** K: ** When this situation ends, will there be changes? For example, people become lazy to make a conference, or people become lazy in making meetups?
** F: ** Not really. For conferences, there are definitely many who want to come back. After a year of quarantine, there must be a lot people who go “uh, let’s make an offline conference, let’s meet.” But for us, maybe it’s not that fast to have an offline event. Because recovery after COVID-19 will take a while. What we are afraid of is that when we have recovered, God forbid, we are infected but we don’t know, and then we meet each other, and another wave of infections comes.
** K: ** You have organized conferences right? What are the challenges? Specifically in Indonesia. Because maybe the dynamics are different between outside and in Indonesia. For example, in Indonesia there are not yet many who are familiar with technology conferences, so we can’t make tickets at high prices, either. What is the experience of being a conference organizer in Indonesia?
** F: ** Based on my experience, it was more about the venue, then also in that time span, how many speakers can give talks at the conference? Then if for example there is a sudden change, it must also be communicated. Sometimes there is also a speaker who suddenly can’t give a talk, how do we handle that? It’s more nerve-wracking on D-day than the previous months.
** K: ** Yeah, for sure. When it comes to sponsorship, in Indonesia itself we may not have a lot of conferences like other countries. Does it impact you when you ask for sponsorships? Is it harder to give the companies justification?
** F: ** It was difficult at the beginning. Because we started having conferences in 2017, right? For those who want to sponsor, what can they get? As we continued to have more conferences, it got easier. There was even one instance where the sponsor contacted us directly. “When are you having a conference? So we can help.”
** K: ** Was offered?
** F: ** Offered. Exciting, right?
** K: ** That’s great! [Laugh]. Very cool.
** F: ** Just like a subscription. [Laugh]. But I’m so happy, for organizers who want to give sponsors to ask us. We’re so happy.
.** G: ** You must be proud, right, considering in the past it was very difficult to get sponsors, and now you’re just waiting for them to contact you.
** F: ** Yes.
** K: ** Some organizers out there are organizing conferences for profit. In Indonesia are there such organizers?
** F: ** I think so far, there isn’t anyone who is really looking for profit. But I don’t know, what did you mean by “looking for money”? Because we ourselves also collect money, but we will use the money for next year’s conference.
** K: ** So you’re using it for the benefit of the community again?
** F: ** Yes.
** K: ** Okay
.** F: ** But for Indonesian conferences themselves, want to give a thumbs up to the organizer SarCom. Because it’s really cool, really.
** K: ** Ohiya? Why is that?
** F: ** (The conference is) really cool. They are properly set. Like, really conditioned really like a conference abroad. That’s really cool. Hopefully other communities can be like that too.
** K: ** Did you come?
** F: ** I guess I didn’t come at that time
.** K: ** But were you also an organizer too, or?
** G: ** Kiki, didn’t you come? Yes, no?
** K: ** No, I didn’t come.
** F: ** No, iIdidn’t come. But I’m also not the organizer.
** K: ** Oh, okay. I remember. There was one of the Tech Speakers, Anjana Vakil, Luh. Do you know?
**G: ** Yes, that’s why at that time some people (from Tech Speakers) came.
** F: ** Yes, yes.
** K: ** Yes, she was there. So, I actually knew SarCom from… well, not directly from Anjana. From my friend, he is Anjana’s friend. Like, SarCom? What? Turns out it was a conference, and I was like, wow. This seems to be very proper indeed, judging from the website.
** F: ** I really want to learn from the people organizing the event.
** K: ** Who are the organizers?
** F: ** One of them is Buyung, then Fredi. Then I forgot who the other people were.
** K: ** But is it from the community too or?
** F: ** Yes, it’s from SarCom too.
** K: ** Oh, I see I see. Ah, why are we talking about SarCom now?
** F: ** But i’s a good thing when there is a community that can move from one class to a higher class.
** K: ** Like, raising the standard?
** F: ** Yes, raising the standard.
** K: ** Why did you say that SarCom is like the new standard in Indonesia? What distinguishes them? And what makes them good?
** F: ** Like I said, proper setting. Then, the concept is really cool too. Then the speakers too. The topics are also more diverse and cover everything, you know. Like the complete package.
** K: ** Okidoki. Finally, are there messages for friends of Kartini Technology who might be interested in joining the community?
** F: ** In my opinion, for friends who are interested in joining the community, please join and don’t hesitate to speak up what’s in your mind, right? If there really is something that can be improved, or you are really interested in joining to be involved in the community itself, organizing. Let us know. Let me kno. We will both think about how. Because the more people who join to take care of the community, the more fun anyway. So, hopefully with this podcast, more people will be interested in joining the community. And the community is not as scary as you think.
** K: ** Farah doesn’t bite, my friends.
.** F: ** [Laughter]. I didn’t bite. Really, I didn’t bite. [Laugh]. Do not be discouraged, do not be discouraged if for example there is someone talking about nonsense. Face it with a cool head.
** K: ** What does that mean? [Laugh].
** F: ** Yes, for example there is a bully.
** K: ** But does it still happen in Indonesian communities?
** F: ** There are still some. But it’s been really reduced. And we also act firmly if we see such actions.
** K: ** What are the consequences, usually?
** F: ** The consequences vary. Some people have been banned for several days to banned forever. Because it’s also online, sometimes it’s confusing what to do.
.** K: ** Yes, that’s right. Anyway, that’s the end of our questions actually. Hopefully this will be useful for you who want to join or want to be an organizer in the technology community in Indonesia. So, thank you Farah for taking the time to chat with Kartini Teknologi.
.** F: ** Yes, thank you very much Kiki, Galuh for inviting me. I’m so happy I can share with people. I also want to correct those who say that “Farah is grumpy.” No, no, not grumpy. I am not that crazy.
** K: ** Yes, Farah doesn’t bite. Don’t worry, friends.
** F: ** [Laughter].