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Submit a session proposal for LibrePlanet 2020 conference: Free the Future by Nov. 20

by Zoe Kooyman Contributions Published on Sep 26, 2019 04:19 PM
"Free the Future" will be the theme for the twelfth annual LibrePlanet conference on free software, to be held in March 2020, in the Boston area. The call for sessions is now open. General registration, exhibitor registration, and sponsorship opportunities will open soon

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) invites activists, hackers, law professionals, artists, students, developers, young people, policymakers, tinkerers, newcomers to free software, and anyone looking for technology that aligns with their ideals, to submit a proposal for a session at our twelfth annual social justice and technology LibrePlanet conference. Potential talks should examine free software through the lens of this year's theme, and can focus on software development, copyleft, community, or other related issues.

Submissions to the call for sessions are being accepted through Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 12:00pm Eastern Standard time (17:00 UTC).

Over the last decade, LibrePlanet has blossomed from a small gathering of FSF associate members into a vibrant multi-day event that attracts a broad audience of anyone interested in the values of software freedom. LibrePlanet 2019 had almost a thousand people participate around the world, both online and in-person, for workshops and talks centered around the theme of "Trailblazing Free Software." To stay up to date about everything LibrePlanet 2020, visit

Many picture the future of software bringing about a dystopian world because of the daily encroachments on user rights. Even in our own homes, we are not shielded from technology companies listening to every word we say through their proprietary "smart" personal assistants. The thirst for user data gleaned through nonfree software and unethical network services like Amazon and Facebook seems to be unquenchable, and they require strong resistance.

Surveillance developments are becoming more and more unsettling because of the use of facial recognition by state and county agencies. The FBI is planning to actively monitor our social media activity in the name of "safety." Can free software help defend our rights?

Education also needs our attention. The recent introduction of Pearson's "Netflix of textbooks" model inhibits students' rights to education by digitally constraining their learning environment. With our 2019 International Day Against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), we are exposing our rapidly diminishing authority over our technology, as exemplified by Pearson. Steps like these set a dangerous precedent for all readers, no matter their age or location.

These are just some of the many examples that come to mind when contemplating the direction technology is taking us. For each new convenience that we gain, it seems we lose even more in the process, exchanging intangible but vital rights to freedom and privacy for the latest new gadget. But there is resistance, and it doesn't have to be this way. The free software community has continuously defied the pressure to use nonfree software and provided a means of escape. We are in the unique position to offer solutions to these problems by combining our technical abilities and educational skills with our ethical dedication to envision a future free from the clutches of nonfree software and network services that mistreat their users. In short, 2020 will be the year we "Free the Future."

About LibrePlanet

LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software users and anyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. For more than a decade, LibrePlanet has brought together thousands of diverse voices and knowledge bases, including free software developers, policy experts, activists, hackers, students, and people who have just begun to learn about free software. If you want to learn more about the FSF's yearly free software conference, you can explore the presentations and videos from previous years.

From a LibrePlanet visitor: "Seeing so many people together who care about the role of software in society gives me renewed conviction to advocate for software freedom. My first LibrePlanet certainly raised my awareness of the social side of software."

What kind of sessions are we looking for?

  • Examine free software through this year's theme, "Free the Future," in the broader spheres of education, licensing, medicine, government, business, art, or social movements

  • Share an update on your free software project

  • Present strategies for strengthening the free software community

  • Explore current topics in free software licensing and copyleft, or give a great licensing tutorial

  • Host a workshop on how to use a free software tool, free software program, or free hardware project

  • Explore a free software concept in an interactive session

  • Lead a project "sprint" (a group work session)

It's important to us to provide sessions that are friendly to newcomers, as well as those that help experienced hackers push their technical skills. Whatever your experience level or the experience level of your audience, we want to include your session! (As a corollary of this, we also welcome sessions for kids or teens.) If you're new to the community, or looking for inspiration, check out last year's conference site and session videos.

Need help attending LibrePlanet?

The FSF is able to offer a limited amount of funding to bring conference participants to LibrePlanet from all around the world. You can submit your travel fund application together with your session proposal. You can also donate and help others attend.

Office hours on IRC

This year we will be holding office hours on IRC. Those will be designated times where the LibrePlanet team, and experienced community volunteers, will be available to help potential speakers prepare their session proposals for LibrePlanet. Office hours are on Thursdays, and start October 3rd on the #LibrePlanet IRC channel on Freenode. They will continue every Thursday until the call for sessions closes on November 20th.

Times are the following:

  • October 3rd - October 31: from 13:00 - 14:00 Eastern Daylight time (17:00 UTC)

  • November 7th - November 14th: 13:00 - 14:00 Eastern Standard time (18:00 UTC)

Video coverage and remote participation

The FSF's technical team uses only free software to livestream and record LibrePlanet. Unless speakers opt out, scheduled talks will be streamed live over the Internet for anyone not physically able to attend, and recordings will be published online after the event, along with presentation slides and papers whenever available. We encourage participation for anyone not physically able to attend. Anyone interested can connect to people in their area via the LibrePlanet wiki and organize a viewing party or open a discussion via IRC. If you need any help with organization or connecting, or have a brilliant idea that we should know about, please contact us at or visit our #LibrePlanet IRC channel on Freenode.

Sponsor LibrePlanet

LibrePlanet depends on community support. By becoming a sponsor, you directly invest in strengthening the free software community. Among other things, it allows the FSF to offer gratis participation and accommodation to a select group of applicants that would not be able to attend otherwise.

For information on how your company can sponsor LibrePlanet or have a table in our exhibit hall, please email

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