Free as in Freedom miniconf recap + slides

All Slideshare slides are available at and you can also download plain pdf slides if you like. They’re all available under the CC-BY-SA license.

Video has not yet been released but I will post again when it is available. Thanks to Ross Turk for letting us use his equipment, and Hamish Taylor for filming – it’s very, very much appreciated.

If you attended, and you took pictures of any of my speakers and published them on the web, let me know and I will add links to my photos page. Also, if you attended, I would appreciate it if you could take the time to fill out my feedback survey. It’s short and anonymous.

First up was Arthur Sale talking about open access and progress in Australian universities under the “green road”. He explained that the only way to make open access a reality is through a “distributed” model of institutional repositories (IR), because it’s the institutions that employ the researchers and thus have the power to mandate something.

Students or researchers in universities might be interested in checking out the Wheeler declaration, and finding ways to pressure their university to adopt an OA mandate.

Next up was Laura Simes on future directions for copyright law, which looked at the mixed messages we are getting at the moment from the government, with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement looking like a disguised booby trap on one hand, and the encouraging words from the National Innovation Review, and other government departments exploring the use of free licensing, on the other. ACTA is far from dead, so if you’re interested in the topic I would suggest keeping your ears out for ways to help oppose it, over the coming year.

Next up was Matthew Landauer on his project OpenAustralia. This was a repeat from OSDC and a popular one at that. What a great project – powerful idea and open source. Hopefully more good news will be coming from that direction in 2009.

After Matthew was Liam Wyatt with Gratis & Libre, talking about ways that “free as in freedom” has been restricted in history: restricting access, censorship and destruction. I particularly like slide 19 in his set: it shows decaying film rolls. To copy them for the purpose of archiving would be illegal because they are copyrighted, but without being copied they are doomed to destruction through physical decay. His talk went over surprisingly well, given how technical LCA usually is — guess there are a number of history geeks amongst us too.

Last one before lunch was Jessica Coates with Freedom Fighting: How do we convince TPTB to relax their grip?. Jessica put this together virtually at my direct suggestion, because I know Creative Commons Australia has done lots of excellent quiet lobbying with government departments in particular. Just look at the ABS decision to put everything CC-BY. Government departments just don’t make awesome decisions like that all by themselves. :) So if you’d like to do a bit of lobbying for your cause, this talk should be helpful.

Heading up the afternoon sessions was Sarah Stokely on citizen journalism. She pointed out some of the pitfalls for online journos and also the great potential for society that citizen journalism as an activity has.

Next up, not too surprisingly the room was packed for one of the “star” speakers, Jeff Waugh’s We are the translators!. So, it was hilarious and pointed, like all good Jeff Waugh talks, and I think his take-home message was that we (at the conference) have awesome freedom, but others may not be so lucky, and we should take on the responsibility of helping others realise the dangers of closed systems. Like when you discover too late, that

After Jeff was another hit session, Simon Greener on Free and open geodata in Australia. This was a great “cliff’s notes” introduction to what geodata refers to, who the providers in Australia are, and a number of open source or open source-like projects in Australia to extend such collections. Simon has many years experience in this field and it really showed in his talk. He spend some time talking about accuracy, and was critical of projects such as OpenStreetMap for re-creating road networks from scratch, instead of concentrating on what he saw as more useful — Point of Interest (POI) data. He skipped over the section in his slides on licensing, since time was short and that part would be generally well known. I think the technical detail in this talk was particularly appreciated by the audience.

Second-last to the plate was Claudine Chionh on Public history in the digital age. She talked about two projects that she works on, Founders and Survivors which is about connecting family history with convicts records, and a yet-to-be-launched wiki-based project on Goulburn Valley local history. (I found out that I was born in the Goulburn Valley, so I can add that vital info when it launches ;), but I only lived there for a few months as an infant.) The Founders and Survivors project has a write up in the paper today which is an interesting read.

Last, but certainly not least was another “star” speaker, Rusty Russell on Free as in Market. It was an angsty rant on the joys of property rights, about how the definition of IP was “digital cropburning” (destruction of rights), ending with an interpretive dance on software patents.

Finally a few hung around for the promise of prizes, with Freedom Bingo. Since I made people make their own bingo boards, it was a bit shabbily run, but we got there in the end and prizes were duly distributed. I hope the chaps who won books (1, 2, 3, 4) read them, enjoy them and then share them, and I hope the guy who won Girl Talk’s Feed the Animals, well, I hope he likes samples. :)

Thank you to: all my speakers. Thank you for the awesome work you do for your projects, and thank you for your willingness to come to LCA and spread the word. Many of you I forcefully recruited, and thanks for your willlingness to be so recruited.
Thank you to Nick Jenkins, Donna Benjamin and Rusty Russell for encouraging me to run this. Thank you to the LCA organisers to accepting it, and thank you to the audience members who came along.

If you didn’t get to make it, please check out the slides, check out the video (when it arrives), and help these ideas spread!

(PS. You can read about the rest of my LCA on my new and geekier blog, techiturn.)

26 January, 2009 • , ,


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