I propose to organise an accessible practical workshop Manage a server collectively and inclusively using infrastructure as code. And in this context I would like to have a discussion about is server maintenance a kind of reproductive activity? and how to deal inclusively with the technical background required?
Hands on workshop (for a non technical public)
Infrastructure as Code is a quite prominent movement in recent industrial IT, roughly it proposes to replace traditional (unix/linux) commands toward server configuration by descriptive code. This practically changes many things in particular the way a group of people can collaborate about the configuration of a server:
- The configuration is always readable as a text file so it’s probably easier to share configuration knowledge.
- The complexity can be tamed with less effort.
- Learning by tinkering is easier because the server can be configured iteratively and it is possible to reproduce the server and break it for learning purpose.
This can probably be interesting to organise community server management and tackle the knowledge gap.
A quite popular and general tool for infrastructure as code is Ansible. I teach Ansible for a living for some months so I would like to propose a beginner oriented workshop to:
- code a simple server configuration with Ansible.
- collaborate with git and gitlab
- work by team of 3 to 5 people of different backgrounds.
Installing a fresh server is only the first and perhaps easier step of community server management. I would like to discuss about how to collectively maintain an existing server (can infrastructure as code help with that?). How to acknowledge the (reproductive ?) work of server maintenance made by different people as opposed to the installation (productive ?) work which is more visible and valued.
Also, IT concrete complexity is generally tackled through masking it with nice/limiting abstractions (graphical interfaces) and selling services (web/cloud platforms). This (re)produces asymmetry in knowledge/power even within political groups criticizing some aspects of kyriarchy : servers are generally installed and maintained by white men (like me) who basically keep that obscure knowledge even when they don’t explicitly defend this privilege. Can we rather tackle complexity through collaboration and practical knowledge sharing with some tools to control it without masking/limiting possibilities.