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LibrePlanet Day 1: Free software forever!

by Dana Morgenstein Contributions Published on Mar 24, 2018 06:02 PM
LibrePlanet started as the annual meeting of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) membership. Ten years later, that meeting has transformed into a vibrant two-day conference that brings together hundreds of new and longtime members of the free software community from all parts of the world.

Deb Nicholson

LibrePlanet started as the annual meeting of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) membership. Ten years later, that meeting has transformed into a vibrant two-day conference that brings together hundreds of new and longtime members of the free software community from all parts of the world.

This year's conference kicked off on Saturday, March 24th with a keynote by Deb Nicholson, a free software policy expert and Community Outreach Director for the Open Invention Network, who posited the question: how do we make free software last forever? How does our community bring in, welcome, and train the new young people who will keep the flame of the free software movement alive? And, how do we create a technological future that bears more resemblance to the techno-utopia of Wakanda (the homeland of the film Black Panther's titular character) than to the techno-dystopias imagined in cyberpunk narratives? Videos of this talk and others will be available soon, at the LibrePlanet GNU MediaGoblin page.

LibrePlanet hallway picture

Throughout the day, there were over two dozen talks, spanning a wide range of topics relating to software freedom and user freedom. Jeremiah Foster introduced the issues around nonfree software in networked vehicles, and discussed some potential solutions; Brett Smith from the Software Freedom Conservancy delineated some barriers to use of the GPL, keeping it from being applied as often as it should be (leading to an immediate commitment from FSF president Richard Stallman to explore and solve some of these issues). A panel led by Morgan Lemmer-Webber laid out some of the advances in bringing free software to academia, and talked about why it's still not in common use. Other talks addressed how free and nonfree software impact our lives everywhere from our mobile phones to the US military; how free software can be made sustainable, and how to broaden our communities; and how to use and proliferate various free software programs.

Bassam Kurdali

The day also included one workshop, in which 3D filmmaker Bassam Kurdali introduced attendees to the art of photogrammetry – the reconstruction of 3D information about objects from a photograph or multiple photographs – using only free software tools. Kurdali is known for their 2006 short, “Elephants Dream,” which was the first “free movie.”

At the end of the day, FSF president Richard Stallman announced the winners of the 2017 Free Software Awards, celebrating an individual's ongoing commitment to user freedom (the Award for the Advancement of Free Software) and the work of a free software project that has created significant social good (the Award for Projects of Social Benefit).

Karen Sandler, Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, received the Award for the Advancement of Free Software. Public Lab co-founders Liz Barry and Jeff Warren represented Public Lab, which received the Award for Projects of Social Benefit.

Public Lab is a community and non-profit organization with a goal of democratizing science to address environmental issues. Their community-created tools and techniques utilize free software and low-cost devices to enable everyday people to investigate environmental concerns.

In addition to her work with Software Freedom Conservancy, Karen Sandler is a perennial LibrePlanet speaker, friend to the FSF, and a passionate advocate for free software, best known for advocating for free software in implantable medical devices.

It has been a tremendous first day, thanks to our able staff and terrific volunteers. We hope that everyone, both in attendance today and watching from afar, is enjoying this celebration of free software as much as we are. See you tomorrow!

Photo credits: Copyright © 2018 Kori Feener, photos licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

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