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Celebrating women in free software for International Women’s Day

by Dana Morgenstein Contributions Published on Mar 06, 2020 11:25 AM

International Women’s Day is coming up this Sunday, March 8, and it’s the perfect opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of some of the amazing women in free software we’ll be featuring at the LibrePlanet 2020 conference, coming up next weekend (March 14-15). As you’ll see, many women are doing exciting and important work that ties into our "Free the Future" theme, demonstrating how free software has the potential to unlock a better future for us all, and building projects that will help us get there.

If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, we encourage you to register today. Registration is possible online until March 10, 10:00 a.m Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Walk-in registration is also normally possible, but we can't guarantee it. Plus, registering in advance helps us anticipate how many people to expect! And remember: if you are a student or a Free Software Foundation (FSF) associate member, you can attend the conference gratis.

With that said: as we recently announced, we’re proud to be welcoming Public Lab co-founder Shannon Dosemagen as one of our keynote speakers. Protecting the planet -- whatever that might mean to you -- is of increasing concern in the year 2020, so Shannon was a perfect fit for this year’s lineup: we know that the philosophy of the four freedoms has something special and crucial to offer every social movement. Her work demonstrates how both scientists and ordinary people can apply ethics inspired by the free software philosophy. As an environmental health advocate and community science champion, Shannon has a lot to say about how "freeing the future" will help to ensure that we have a future at all.

Another extraordinary activist will be kicking off the conference on Saturday morning as part of our initial keynote panel, featuring talented young free software developers: Alyssa Rosenzweig, a college student who interned at the FSF in 2018. She is currently studying Applied Mathematics at the University of Toronto, while also working at Collabora and leading the Panfrost project to build a free graphics stack for Mali GPUs. As you can see from her internship wrap-up post, her commitment and contributions to the free software movement are vast already, and we can’t wait to hear what insights she’ll be offering at the conference.

Another activist who has long kept her eyes trained on the future is Micky Metts, a worker/owner of Agaric ( and last year’s closing keynote speaker. Micky is a veteran of the free software movement and a perennial LibrePlanet speaker. Her work concentrates on the intersection of free software, platform cooperativism, technology networks, design justice, and cooperative development. Her talk, "Platform cooperativism, surveillance capitalism, predictive analysis, and you," will concentrate on how this work is our best hope to protect our data from surveillance and the increasingly Orwellian future she addressed in last year’s keynote.

Lucy Ingham is a comparative newcomer to the world of free software, but as a technology journalist zeroing in on how technology shapes the world we live in, she has spent a lot of time warning the world about the dangers of what she describes as the "Life as a Service (LaaS)" model. The abstract she submitted for her talk, "Rented future: The dangerous rise of life as a service" shares many themes with Cory Doctorow’s novella "Unauthorized Bread,", connecting that ominous near-future to the unsettling realities of the present.

These are only a few of the women who will be bringing their insights and their work to LibrePlanet 2020, and we hope you’ll join us to see them all, here in Boston next week!

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