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Intern blog: Journeying into the free software world

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Nov 16, 2020 04:53 PM

Hello, my name is Daniel Katz! I am beginning my internship with the FSF in the fall of 2020, where I will start by converting the sites used to draft the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3), mostly https://gplv3.fsf.org, into a static Web site that can be themed into a historical archive. I began my relationship with the FSF a few years back when I realized the need for free software, but did not have the technical skills to contribute to community projects. As such, I started by volunteering with the Licensing & Compliance team to digitize legal documents, and writing about free software in my school’s magazines.

I started programming the summer before high school, where I taught myself Java in order to take the AP Computer Science A exam. From there, I learned Python, my current language of choice, and dove into the world of free software, doing everything from teaching to competitive programming. Recently, I worked on a project that used sentiment analysis and Twitter to get a feel of how people around the US are feeling about the coronavirus. I run GNU/Linux on my desktop and laptop.

As a student, I see the need for free software in education. On many fronts, proprietary software has failed in schools. Test proctoring software destroys any semblance of student privacy, expensive software suites prove inaccessible to low-income districts and students, and current solutions which prove to be inadequate cannot be modified. I hope that when I start contributing to free software projects, it can be in the realm of education!

Besides my computer science related interests, I keep myself busy in the following ways:

  • Being a high school junior.
  • Captaining my school’s speech and debate team.
  • Producing and writing for my school’s STEM magazine.
  • Reading books from academic non-fiction to young adult sci-fi.
  • Being the tech director for the Boston chapter of Notelove, a nonprofit dedicated to music education.
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