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Software Freedom Day, Sept. 20th, 2008

by deborah Contributions Published on Sep 29, 2008 04:05 PM
The Boston Celebration

It's Saturday morning and not *too* terribly early. Sixty free software activists start arriving at Encuentro 5, reviving with coffee and getting ready to celebrate Software Freedom Day in Boston.

We began with an eye-opening keynote from Aaron Swartz,

He pointed out how our taxes pay to maintain governmental records and databases and yet citizens who want to read these materials are often thwarted by red tape and fees -- fees for digital information which, as we all know, should be nearly cost-free to duplicate. He's been using free software to make government records and other public domain material easily available and searchable by the public. He implored us to all call him, if we want to help, but I'm pretty sure email works too.

Next we broke out for workshops. One track was dedicated to free software graphics tools. Mairin Duffy lead us off with a "dive right in" overview on how to use GIMP, and Inkscape to create all sorts of fabulous looking posters and graphics. Next up was Bassam Kundali, an animation artist, who's been using Blender to make short movies. Running concurrently, the Plone workshop had a particularly heavy FSF staff presence since we use Plone for our websites. Nate Aune and Aaron Van Derlip covered a good bit of ground, including Plone's high security ratings and how to start building a Plone site from scratch. Following that presentation board member, Mako Hill, and FSF manager of operations, John Sullivan explained how anyone could hack a digital camera or tweak the Freerunner from OpenMoko.

We broke for lunch and multi-player Frozen Bubble. Dessert was an excellent and mammoth cake made by Sarah Abbott. More than one person went back for a second piece as we settled down to watch the Fry video. Campaigns manager, Joshua Gay updated the crowd on some of our newest work; including our campaign to End Software Patent Abuse.

While we wheeled through a series of Lightning Talks (6 minute presentations, scheduled the day of the event) on everything from a formal math commons to free software at law schools, we were treated to a surprise appearance by RMS. It seems his travel plans had changed at the last minute and so the founder of the GNU project was able to come by and address the crowd. He exhorted us to think of the GNU project's 25 year history as a foundation for the work to come and encouraged people to keep pushing for a completely free system. Of course, the best way to do that would be to hack on one of the High Priority Projects listed here.

Thanks to everyone who participated and see you next year!

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