LibrePlanet 2018 a smashing success -- thanks to you!
It's always hard to know how to sum up LibrePlanet -- the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) annual conference is an inspiring, information-filled, and seemingly non-stop weekend celebrating everything about free software.
Friday marked Day Zero of the conference -- before the regular program started, the FSF was overrun with volunteers helping to pull together last-minute details for the conference. At 5pm, general conference attendees began showing up to pick up badges, socialize, meet each other, and generally have fun at the office. This was followed by a Welcome Dinner, kindly sponsored by IBM. The Welcome Dinner was for all women, genderqueer, and nonbinary people who were interested in meeting each other before the event, and to better encourage building diversity and inclusiveness in free software and the greater tech community. (Thanks, IBM!)
Saturday and Sunday brought Day One and Day Two of the conference. With 24 sessions on Saturday and 30 on Sunday (including lightning talks), it was hard for many people to decide what to do. The long list of topics included automated cars, copyleft, education and academia, health and medicine, project updates, and various technical topics. There were workshops for children and adults, working sessions, and hours of conversations in the conference venue. The lively Exhibit Hall brought thirteen exhibitors, including communities, companies, non-profits, and even a library. At the end of each day was a raffle, with prizes donated by Aleph Objects, No Starch Press, Technoethical, JMP, and Aeronaut Brewing.
LibrePlanet was kicked off with a keynote by Deb Nicholson, longtime FSF supporter and fierce community advocate. At the close of the first day, the Free Software Awards were presented to Karen Sandler, for her free software advocacy, and Public Lab, for their practice of free software principles for social benefit. Day two started with a keynote from Seth David Schoen, Senior Staff Technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and longtime FSF Associate Member. The conference was closed with a talk by Benjamin Mako Hill, assistant professor at the University of Washington and FSF board member.
This brings us to Monday, which was a bonus day, with no formal LibrePlanet activities. This year, there were two Monday workshops: one run by The Document Foundation to train FSF Associate Members on using LibreOffice, and the other organized by LibrePlanet speakers and FSF supporters Morgan Lemmer-Webber and Chris Lemmer Webber on digital humanities and using Racket for writing and publishing academic papers. These weren't the only extra events around LibrePlanet -- Day Zero also included SpinachCon, a community-organized UX/UI testing day.
I speak for all of the FSF staff when I say that LibrePlanet was amazing. It was only possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, Private Internet Access, Red Hat, and Purism and the in-kind donors; the Student Information Processing Board (SIPB) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who continue to be the best partner we could hope for; and, of course, every attendee, exhibitor, speaker, and volunteer. LibrePlanet energizes us so much and helps drive our work over the rest of the year. Meeting you, hearing about your work and what you've built, and seeing your dedication to free software serves as a visceral reminder of how free software and proprietary software affect our daily lives and our overarching societal narrative. It reminds us why we do the work we do, and how, even when it feels like we're losing, there's the support and drive necessary for long-term success.
If you attended LibrePlanet -- in person or remotely -- please don't forget to fill out a feedback form. These help us understand people's experiences and how to do better next year. We read and discuss every response, so you can fill out the survey knowing it is going to make a difference.
Photo of the Welcome Dinner by Molly de Blanc CreativeCommons-Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0
Photo of the Registration Desk by Kori Feener CreativeCommons-Attribution-Sharealike 4.0
Photo of Liz Barry and Jeffrey Warren accepting the Award for Social Benefit on behalf of the Public Lab community by Kori Feener CreativeCommons-Attribution-Sharealike 4.0
Photo of the LibrePlanet exhibit hall and registration line by Kori Feener CreativeCommons-Attribution-Sharealike 4.0