About Software Freedom Day:
“You just need to Google the blogosphere to get a taste of the growing excitement across the planet.”
These last four weeks have been pretty crazy. I haven’t had a moment to really catch up on anything, but I’m slowly getting there so for people waiting on me please keep being patient 🙂
First there was two weeks on the road. A week in Canberra talking to Government people, universities, corporate types and of course community people about FOSS. I’m putting together some pretty interesting documents which should get some good support from Australian Government Agencies, so stay tuned for that.
Then I helped run a seminar for ASK-OSS and spent a few days in Brisbane running the same conference up there. Both events were a lot of fun and very interesting. It was great to meet Dan Ravicher who is a great speaker, and his partner Alex who is a street smart lawyer defending the rights of disadvantaged people in New York! Alex was a very cool lady to meet! It was wonderful to meet with Mark Webbink again, I hope everything is going ok Mark.
Then this last two weeks, I’ve been sick. ‘The flu with my RSI starting to play-up again’ sick. Not very nice, particularly when one has soooo much to do!
I had loads of wonderful people from SLUG come around on the 26th and pitch in to help pack up all the global Software Freedom Day team packs for shipping on Monday. It was a great day, and we packed up basically 150 packages in just under a day. Many thanks to all those people (plus Jeff and Sridhar) 😉 who put in a champion effort!
What else. We’ve had teams register late for Software Freedom Day almost every day, so it looks like there will be over 200 teams this year, and it is only the third year! I’ve got an event running in Sydney which has technologists, journalists, politicians and culturalists giving talks, as well as some useful workshops so it should be a lot of fun for anyone in Sydney who can come along 🙂 And I’m chatting to Alice Brennan today from Triple J about covering Software Freedom Day on HACK, the week day afternoon news on Triple J (and one of my favourite radio shows). More details on that when I know.
Phew! What are we doing today, Brain? …
Yesterday afternoon a bunch of wonderful people came to meet for a coffee/beer at the All Bar Nun in Canberra. It was a great few hours and awesome to catch up with everyone that came (and a few new faces to attach to nicks :). I met up with Chris Smart who is behind the Kororaa project, Kristy Bennetts, David Symons (bimberi), Paul Wayper, Steve Walsh, Ingrid Finnane, Antti Roppola, Justin Freeman and more 🙂 Thanks everyone! I’ll definitely be coming back to Canberra soon as there were so many yummy dinners offered 🙂
I’ve also been talking to a bunch of Government agencies about FOSS and there will be some great new case studies of FOSS in research available on the ASK-OSS website in the coming weeks. Also, anyone in Sydney next week should take the opportunity to come along to a free legal and research seminar about FOSS, with Mark Webbink and Dan Ravicher speaking. Details on the ASK-OSS website.
Today (July 10th) is International Fair Use Day, and although we don’t have any legal concept of ‘Fair use’ in Australia, it really highlights that we are taking on all the issues of the US DMCA (in our US/AU FTA) without the partial balancing effect that fair use gives consumers in the US. i.e. – all the issues and none of the protections 🙁
Check out this very amusing cartoon that shows the ridiculousness of some of the arguments we are hearing about increasing digital protections, and reducing consumer rights.
That’s what file sharing is like: Taking a kitty away from a kitty…
Janet Hawtin, one of the Linux Australia has put together an awesome document which poses questions and answers how the DMCA makes those actions unclear. Examples are being able to read your e-book aloud to your child, being able to install new hardware to your computer, and all kinds of scenarios that make is really obvious in a non-technical fashion why the DMCA style laws being enacted in the Australian/US FTA are so bad for us as a community.
Rock on Janet! Janet also did the Software Freedom Day posters and stuff last year which are all on her website so check them out too 🙂
Below are some political arguments for FOSS I came up with a while ago. Comments most welcome 🙂
– Reducing the Trade Deficit – something like 3/4 of the Australian trade deficit is ICT related and about 10% of that is proprietary software costs. We can cut this 10% significantly by using Open Source technologies as they are very services based rather than licence based, which means money spent on FOSS technologies is investment into the local ICT industry. It is also useful for local business growth (below) and thus means a better local services delivery capability and more money invested into local industry growth. Brazil is a great case study of a country turning around a $1.4b ICT software import economy to a $2.4b export economy.
– Local business growth – Open Source provides a low cost and highly scalable set of solutions to small new businesses, meaning they can hit the market quicker and harder than they would but delivering on top of proprietary software. Also for local software houses, building on top of Open Source and leveraging Open Source methodologies can cut the cost to go to market and build on top of in many cases an already existing developer and test base.
– Growing the local economy – Open Source is booming in Australia, and we have more Open Source developers per capita in this country than anywhere else in the world, a strong user and business community, and a comprehensive Government document on Open Source. Open Source is a ticket to growing the local ICT economy and leading Australia to be thought leaders in ICT globally. We can be the link between the East and the West in ICT, and drive new innovations resulting in a lowered trade deficit, and stronger local ecomony.
– Reducing the Digital Divide – In Australia, the gap between the connected and disconnected doesn’t just mean no access to google. It means no access to Government services, education, online business opportunities, skills creation and no access to the growing online knowledge economy. Open Source not only provides a cheap, reliable, hardware efficient and secure platform for addressing this, but as it is completely free, people can share software with their communities and the net result of rolling out Open Source community centres is compounded. India is a great case study where telecentres are being rolled out in order to address the growing Digital Divide gap, and to ensure a higher skilled, and higher employed population.
– Empowering the education system and access to online opportunities – Open Source in schools not only provides the benefits already mentioned, but it empowers teachers and students to learn together with free learning and teaching tools, and many high quality online teaching applications are available for improving education delivery, particularly in remote and rural Australia. Also low cost computers can be used as thin clients using Open Source to ensure long life of purchased or second hand computers and easy administration. We can learn from examples like in Extremadura, Spain, where 80,000 Linux computers were rolled out bringing the ratio of computers to kids in the public school system up to 1:2. In Australia we are no where near this figure.
– Reducing the technology waste, and impact on the environment – Repurposing computers from the public and private sector into disadvantaged areas and schools is an excellent way to cut down on unnecessary waste, and Linux runs effectively and efficiently on old hardware. Thin client software
is built into Linux which means that even very old hardware can be used to deliver fast and useful systems to the education sector for very low cost. Already we have such schemes in Australia such as IT Share, Bettong, ComputerAngels, Computerbank, and many more who already do this work.
A stronger Government push to these schemes will rapidly address the opportunity gap existing today in our education system, in poorer and remote areas, as well as addressing the environmental impact of technology waste. It will also help to grow a strong local ICT industry that is self-sustaining and contributing to the net wealth of this country, rather than to its deficit.
Rock on aj and congrats on your new bike 🙂 I am Jack’s jealous pout.
I had to give a Joomla course recently, so I put together a basic guide to explain Content Management Systems (CMSs) and used Joomla as our example. I refer to loads of great Joomla guides in the guide, and try to assist people in a full Joomla implementation right through from the planning to adminstration and management. Check it out on my new publications page for Waugh Partners 🙂 Loads more will be put there in the short term future.
Last year Linux Australia had a stand at a massive event called the Education Expo in Sydney. Our stand was extremely popular so we are doing it again this year! This event has over 10,000 attendees including parents, teachers and students and we’ll be giving out information, software, giveaways and hosting a “Linux Challenge” for kids where they complete some tasks and then get a “Linux pack” with certificate, badge, toy and CD 🙂 Will post thanks and photos after the weekend.
So while working for the ASK-OSS research project, which is looking at the use of FOSS in Australian research and education, I keep coming across some absolute pearlers. The most recent was the FOSS policy put forward at Buffalo University in the US:
direct unmediated unfettered access to information is fundamental and essential to scholarly inquiry, academic dialog, research, the advancement of research methods, academic freedom, and freedom of speech
the free flow of information has for many years been hampered by incompatibilities between Microsoft software and non-Microsoft systems caused by Microsoft-specific modifications to open protocols (such as Kerberos), document formats (such as HTML), and programming languages (such as Java)
open-source software provides an alternative through whose use the core missions of the University at Buffalo can be preserved, nurtured, and enhanced
And so on and so forth. It makes for very interesting reading. I’ve also compiled in last months ASK-OSS newsletter the rationale of some well known Australian research projects about why they choose OSS. Check it out at the May Newsletter and join the newsletter for free (low traffic, very interesting!) if this sort of stuff is interesting to you 🙂