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Melbourne's Software Freedom Day

Showing off my manual & laptop bling at Software Freedom Day.
Photo © kattekrab, licensed CC-BY-SA

Saturday was Software Freedom Day, a wonderful day to celebrate and share the ideas and fruits of free software. I trundled along to the Melbourne event and gave a short talk called How Free Software makes Wikipedia possible (slides: Slideshare, Wikimedia Commons). There was some videoing being done, so maybe that will surface at some point.

It went well I think, despite being pretty off-the-cuff; people seemed quite engaged. I talked about how Wikipedia is not only built on free software (MediaWiki) and free formats (Ogg), but also takes inspiration from the free software movement in trying to lead the free knowledge movement. I quoted a bit from something Jimmy Wales wrote four years ago which is really amazing, actually. Four years ago Wikipedia had nothing like the traction it has now so kudos to Jimmy for making a principled stance when it was much less easy to do so.

I also put a few photos up on Flickr. The Hub is a great little venue.

I also listened to a podcast interview with Pia Waugh, who is president of Software Freedom International, the folks who send everyone CDs and balloons and generally make Software Freedom Day a bonafide worldwide event rather than a poorly organised ad-hoc shambles. I was a bit amazed to hear that Software Freedom Day is only four years old; each year it has basically doubled in growth. I think even if at this point the outreach factor is not as great as it could be, SFD is still a very worthy day for free software supporters to meet up and recognise each other’s efforts. There is the threat that such a thing could turn into a self-congratulatory wank, but that is not likely with FLOSS supporters — not until GNU/Linux is the default desktop, at least. :)

My journey to being fully free-software-embracing is still going, but I had a significant leap on the way earlier in the year when I switched to a Linux-only computing environment. Xubuntu 8.04 at home with no Windows partition, and CentOS at work. Xubuntu has a few quirks but on the whole it is simple and straightforward. I kind of shamed myself into it; I was doing all this free culture grandstanding, it was a bit hypocritical to be using Windows myself (as I said recently, eating ones own dogfood ‘n all that).

I’m also very pleased to use identi.ca (the Free Twitter alternative started by WikiTravel’s founder, Evan Prodromou. How Evan actually keeps up with all his projects just boggles my mind), which I moved to from Google’s neglected Jaiku. After ma.gnolia reveals its open source, I will switch from del.icio.us. Sure, the networks are not as great, but not joining them is not going to help that, is it? :) I also feel keenly the need for Free alternatives to Facebook, Flickr and Skype.

And for that matter, I’m totally reliant on Gmail, which is surely asking for trouble. Oh, but Google’s threaded conversations are so seductive…! I can’t wait to see what Free alternative awaits.

22 September, 2008 • ,

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