Photos by Chris, licensed CC-BY. See the full set. Photo 1: Senator Lundy giving her talk on Government 2.0. Photo 2: Balloons at the SFD marquee on the steps of the State Library of Victoria. Photo 3: The Makerbot from Connected Community Hackerspaces. Photo 4:Dale, the lead organiser of this year’s SFD, and the woman who made it all actually come together and happen… a champion!
If you enjoyed this year’s SFD and you are wondering who to thank, the person to thank is Dale.
This is a video of SFD by OSGUI Tech Show (a brief interview with me starts at 1:00). I had never heard of it before but it’s awesome that it exists and they gave such detailed coverage on SFD.
I didn’t actually see any talks because I was mainly in the Experimedia room, where we had our “market hall” with community groups’ tables.
Maybe I should let the attendees speak for themselves:
We also did something like an exit survey and I will be interested to read the results from that.
Where: State Library of Victoria, next to Melbourne Central.
What: Speakers, workshops, a market hall with free software DVDs, games, kids’ area and hands-on hardware demos.
How much: Free as in freedom AND free as in beer! :)
See http://www.sfd.org.au/melbourne/ for all the details. The speakers are going to be great. There will be two rooms, some 1 hour, some 30 minutes, and a great mix of the practical and the inspiring – backups, the multilingual web, writing games in Python, Creative Commons, setting up a blog in Drupal, a Wordpress workshop and much more. Senator Kate Lundy is the star attraction – be sure to register for her talk, registration is free.
We are doing our best to drum up media interest to get the word out to as many people as possible, and today Donna (LUV’s outgoing prez) was interviewed by Red Symons on ABC Melbourne’s breakfast show. It’s a great interview – have a listen and forward the link on to friends and family who might not know what this free software caper is about.
Now there is just one thing left… to make SFD a success, we need more volunteers! Volunteering on the day is a very easy way to support your local free software community, it only takes 2.5-5 hours — and you were going to come anyway, right? We need people to be welcomers, ushers, question-answerers, workshop helpers, registration checkers and exit surveyers.
So volunteer and support Melbourne’s best Software Freedom Day yet!
While organising the talks for Software Freedom Day in Melbourne this year, I tried to put a lot of emphasis on having talks that would be accessible for people who are not already part of computing culture.
I was thinking later about why this was so important to me (after all, the vast majority of attendees would actually be people who have some idea what the phrase “software freedom” means), and it crystallised for me when I watched this video of Bill Thompson on the ’10 cultures’ problem. Bill Thompson is a UK “technology commentator” and the talk description is It’s fifty years since CP Snow’s famous lecture on the Two Cultures – science and literature. We seem to have a different divide these days, between ‘people like us’ and the rest. What might be done about this? (People like us = geeks, BTW. It was a tech conference.) His talk only goes for about 15 minutes (the rest of the video is questions), so do have a look.
Thompson remarks that “Very few people are functionally literate in code”, and points out an example of the result of this:
The debate about ID cards is a classic example, where those who do not understand the problem have been allowed to focus on the issue of the card itself instead of the National Identity Register. Which means nearly all of the politicking about it… they don’t actually count for very much, because they don’t go to the heart of the system. But very few journalists, very few commentators, very new ordinary citizens, are capable of the systems thinking.
It is not hard to think of other examples: Electronic voting systems. Yahoo capitulating to the Chinese government. Twitter/mobiles and rapid mobilisations for political purposes. DRM in e-book readers. Open standards and formats. Copyright reform in a digital age.
He proposes to replace ICT classes with programming classes, bringing up dinner party conversations about Python, and introducing pop culture role models (“Buffer the overflow slayer” anyone?), to help people feel that code and programming are fundamental parts of everyone’s culture.
Understanding code has certainly changed my life. It’s a very powerful kind of knowledge — powerful and dangerous. Everyone should have a chance to experience that power if they want to!
The talks were well attended and whenever I sat in on one for more than a few seconds, I was impressed by the speaker’s enthusiasm or the audience’s attention.
Thank you to Wen Lin, Ben Sturmfels, Daniel Jitnah, Minh Nguyen, Tansel Ersavas, Andrew Thornton, Tony Forster, Joseph Wojciechowski, Simon Hobbs and Duana Stanley for their excellent talks. Also thank you to Kathy Reid, Andy Gelme (and helpers) and Donna Benjamin (like she wasn’t busy enough!) for their popular tutorials/workshops. I was super impressed that you were all so awesome.
Thank you to volunteers who stood or sat around answering questions and handing out CDs: Jiri, Ben, Tony, Wen, Anne, Andy, Jason, Andrea… and others I’ve forgotten I’m sure.
And of course, a huge thank you to the MelbPC Melbourne PC User Group, who have such awesome facilities and friendly members!
I have been tasked with finding speakers in Melbourne for Software Freedom Day (Saturday 19th September). And I have grand visions! So:
I am looking for people who are interested in helping share the awesome that is free software, by giving a talk or tute on Software Freedom Day (Saturday 19th September). Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to communicate to a beginners or intermediate audience, in approximately 25 minutes, some project or aspect of free software that gives you warm fuzzies and helps you sleep well at night knowing the world is a better place, or at least makes you go, “Huh. Neat.”
I have come up with some ideas to get you thinking, below. Further notes are also at http://wiki.cc.com.au/SFD09/Talks. Please write me a comment or an email when you know what you want to enthuse about.
Introductory talks should either be about
something conceptual/historical, or
introduction to dual-booting/Live CD etc (the very first steps in making the leap to Linux)
open source software that is stable on Windows or is web-based. ie. not about software that is only stable on Linux.
What is software freedom?
incl. history of free software movement
Free software licenses
could perhaps just be a component in a general talk on software freedom
How do open source projects work?
how do they get started, how do people contribute, how do people know what to do, who makes final decisions, forking
How to become an open source developer
How to find a project, how to check if it suits you, how to find easy ways to start, submitting patches?
Open formats/standards & why they matter
Introduction to free content licensing (Creative Commons)
Open access (academic publishing)
Some feed reader (plus: what are feeds)
[Your Favourite Free Software Package Goes Here]
MediaWiki/Wikipedia/some other wiki (contributing)
HTML/CSS (web design using some particular package?)
Demystifying bug trackers (could look at a few – Bugzilla, trac?)
Programming for kids with Squeak/Alice/Scratch
Introduction to IRC
Beginning the command line
How to start your own web site (getting started with shared webhosting using open source tools)
Beginning source control (concepts + basic commands in svn, bzr)
Any of the software mentioned in Introductory, but with a more advanced take (starting to look at modifying it, e.g. extensions/plugins, how to tweak it yourself)
Using a debugger
Practical programming with Python (scripting – solving ‘real world’ problems)
Understanding the Linux stack (kernel, window manager, desktop environment, utilities, etc)
Managing software in Linux (aptitude etc)
Introduction to databases (not just SQL…)
Introduction to MVC framework?
Greasemonkey or more generally, Firefox extensions
Any of the above-mentioned topics, especially the programming-related ones. Best to take on some practical task – “how to do X using Y”.
ps. Don’t think you are not qualified to talk if you are a beginner or a recently-reformed beginner. Recently-reformed beginners are some of the best people to communicate with beginners, because they remember precisely just how daunting and baffling everything was…