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Day one reflections for LibrePlanet: "Living Liberation"

by Devin Ulibarri Contributions Published on Mar 19, 2022 10:43 PM
Today marked the first of two days of events and talks for the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) annual conference, LibrePlanet. This year's theme is "Living Liberation," and the talks and activities are centered around how to live a more liberated life in the modern world.

To start the conference off, campaigns manager, Greg Farough, gave opening remarks, introduced the day's events and other activities outside of the main conference, and asked participants to report which countries they were attending from.

Of the countries represented, we heard from: Brazil, Canada, Finland, Haiti, Iran, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, (various states within the) United States, and many more.

From GNU Emacs to code.gouv.fr

There were many talks today, and there is much to be said about all of them, but here are some highlights.

Early in the program, Bastien Guerry spoke about the importance of Free Software hacktivism within public administrations. This means having better laws and providing services like code.gouv.fr. His talk also touched on "Public money, public code," and the progress made towards bringing free software into government administrations. They help governments to publish their code, so that others may benefit as well. For example, software is published so that citizens know that their data is not being tracked (e.g. COVID-19 contact tracing).

Opening keynote

This year's opening keynote was Marleen Stikker of Waag, and was scheduled in the middle of the day to accommodate global time zones. Stikker's talk addressed what she calls the "technology stack" and what we can do to achieve a more "freedom-respecting stack."

Marleen shared that, before the conference, FSF staff asked, "What operating system are you going to use?" A good and important question for a conference, but not a common one. Of mobile devices she said, "If you own a device, you should have the right to change its firmware and drivers." Moving on to talk about infrastructure, she mentioned "it should a public utility." The talk was well received, as Marleen touched upon many of the issues faced by people who try to liberate their lives more and more every day.

Ethical e-books

Later in the day, Nicholas Bernhard spoke about the challenges and opportunities to "building an ethical e-book." He explained how, while the redistribution of physical books are permitted under "first-sale" doctrine, e-books are often not, "since the publisher is merely offering access, not ownership, the law does not apply." The main thesis of Nicholas's talk centered around the freedom to read, saying that you should be able to "read a book, or e-book, on your own terms."

Digital devices are driving us further away from the way we understand reading and ownership. He said, "Very often, we are reading by the publisher's permission." Nicholas followed with a statement of support to free software, saying, "That is why I think free software is essential to an ethical e-book."

For this conference, Craig Topham of FSF's Licensing and Compliance Lab conducted a trivia quiz game, keeping people entertained during the lunch break. The winners have been announced. First prize goes to Luukas Ahola, second prize goes to Lovish (IRC nickname), and third prize goes to Juan Luis Gonzalo.

Why our economy fails public goods like free software

Near the end of the day, Aaron Wolf, founder of snowdrift.coop, gave an overview of various economic models and the implications for free software. He even, to the audience's delight, sang a phrase from the "Free Software Song."

The day concluded with this year's Free Software Awards ceremony, followed by closing remarks. This year's recipients of the awards are Paul Eggert, Protesilaos Stavrou, and SecuRepairs. As the ceremony was conducted virtually this year, each winner selected the person they wished to present them the award.

Each recipient submitted a pre-recorded acceptance speech. Paul Roberts, of SecuRepairs, in his acceptance speech said, "You cannot afford to sit this one out," referring to the fight for the Right to Repair. Recipient of the Award for the Advancement of Free Software, Paul Eggert, gave a talk about his work on the Time Zone Database (TZDB), highlighting some of the challenges they have to deal with to keep the system running smoothly. Recipient of the Award for Outstanding New Free Software Contributor, Protesilaos Stavrou (also known as Prot), is on our schedule for Sunday at 14:30 - 15:15 EDT (18:30 UTC), and we are working with Paul Roberts of SecuRepairs, who won the Award for Projects of Social Benefit, on a future date to talk at the FSF.

Coming Sunday

Sunday, we have many more talks by many more fantastic speakers! The lineup includes everything from command-line graphic design (with Manufactura Independente) tricks to "The state of software patents in 2022," with (Panos Alevropoulos), to "brain hacking," with Rubén Rodríguez, and more! Hundred Rabbits is Sunday's keynote with their talk that explores "the dangers and shortcomings of relying on always-online proprietary platforms," and the FSF is conducting the closing keynote.

Please join me in thanking the tech team for doing such incredible work pushing through all the challenges (as well as taking advantage of all the wonderful opportunities in running a fully free (as in freedom) event. For those who attended today, I hope that you enjoyed the conference, and that you can attend tomorrow as well. Don't miss this year's LibrePlanet day two!

Read more about LibrePlanet 2022 in our Day 2 blog post

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