Last Week in Brussels: FOSDEM, Copyleft Conf and More
byon February 10, 2020
FOSDEM is a great volunteer-run, community-driven event that has been going on for twenty years!! Conservancy staff and volunteers who attend the event are grateful to have the opportunity to interact with so many passionate free software advocates in one place each year.
The FOSDEM organizers invited Bradley and Karen to speak on the main track talk — the next installment talk on the difficulty in living in software freedom and making ethical choices today — a follow-up to their keynote from last year.
Conservancy staff also gave some DevRoom talks, including participating in the one-of-a-kind debates in the Legal & Policy DevRoom this year. Nearly all of these recordings are now available. The FOSDEM video team is amazingly efficient — with a fully FOSS system for conference video!
The well-attended Legal & Policy DevRoom (which Bradley and Karen help organize each year) occurred all day on Saturday. In the morning, Bradley participated in a debate entitled, Does Careful Inventory of Licensing Bill of Materials Have Real Impact on FOSS License Compliance? The debate format was an exciting new addition to the DevRoom this year. (Please note that per the debate format, some speakers took positions that did not necessarily reflect their personal or organizational views.)
On Sunday, Deb spoke about Building Ethical Software Under Capitalism, in the Community Devroom. Later that day in the same room, Bradley Kuhn discussed, How Does Innersource Impact on the Future of Upstream Contributions?.
On Sunday, Conservancy welcomed attendees to learn more about our organization at our booth. We thank our volunteers who greeted and discussed Conservancy's work with attendees; we appreciate your energy. Also, thanks to the many Outreachy alums (all of whom are still participating in FOSS!) who stopped by the booth — it's really gratifying to hear from you. One current intern even asked for a selfie with our staff!
Many of our member projects were also at FOSDEM. Coreboot ran a shared booth, Homebrew had their second in-person meeting on Monday and Godot had a booth and helped run the Gaming Development track.Godot also hosted two pre-conference sprint days and a two day “FOSDEM Fringe” event — GodotCon.
Photo is by Deb Nicholson and is available under a CC-BY-SA-4.0 license
We ran the Second Annual Copyleft Conf on Monday. The event sparked lively and respectful conversations about the use and future of copyleft. The event included an exciting, multi-faceted schedule of talks and panels. Our lovely program committee — Molly de Blanc, Nithya Ruff, Harald Welte, Josh Simmons, Beth Flanagan, Bradley Kuhn and Deb Nicholson — curated and selected excellent content for the day. Thanks also to our Copyleft Conf volunteers, who helped with registration, speaker introductions and time-keeping.
All the Copyleft Conf sessions and Deb's CHAOSS Con keynote (a Friday “FOSDEM Fringe” event), Ethics: What You Know & What You Don't Know should be posted within a few weeks.
Conservancy is headed to Brussels
byon January 24, 2020
Greetings software freedom friends! We will again be in Brussels for FOSDEM and the Second Annual Copyleft Conf. We would love to see you while we're there so here are few of the places and times where you can find us.
Our Executive Director, Karen Sandler and our Policy Fellow, Bradley M. Kuhn are half of the team behind Saturday's popular and long-running Legal & Policy DevRoom. This year the DevRoom will have debates on critical current topics. Sustainability, the relevance of the Open Source Definition, privacy and open hardware are just a few that will be covered. In past years this room has gotten full, so savvy attendees should show up a little early for the sessions they want to catch.
On Sunday, Conservancy staff have two talks in the Community Devroom run by Leslie Hawthorn, Laura Czajkowski and Shirley Bailes. Our Director of Community Operations, Deb Nicholson will be discussing Building Ethical Software Under Capitalism just before lunch, and near the end of the day Bradley looks at how Innersource might affect the future of upstream contributions.
Conservancy will also have a stand all day on Sunday in K level 2 (we are in group E). Come by, say hi, load up on stickers, share some FLOSSip, etc. We could also use a few volunteers at the booth. If you like talking about free software and you can help out for an hour or two, please get in touch!
Conservancy projects Godot and Coreboot also have stands at FOSDEM so be sure to swing by and see what they've got going on.
Second Annual Copyleft Conf
Copyleft Conf is a one day conference on February 3rd, dedicated to -- you guessed it -- copyleft licensing! We'll be discussing theory, practice and the future of copyleft in a friendly and welcoming environment. Porfessional tickets are $200, student/under-employed/non-profit employee tickets are just $20. Both tickets include coffee and tea in the morning as well as lunch. You're going to want to register in advance so that we can get a solid headcount for lunch and get everyone checked in quickly in the morning. Please get in touch if $20 is prohibitive for you.
We could also use volunteers onsite for Copyleft Conf. Volunteer tasks include; helping with registration, time-keeping and recording. Email us if you can pitch in with these important tasks.
Deb is also keynoting CHAOSScon on the Friday before FOSDEM starts. She'll be talking about ethics and metrics. If you're in town early and want to join, the conference organizers recommend registering as soon as possible because space is limited.
We Met Our Biggest Match Yet and Welcomed One Hundred New Supporters!
byon January 17, 2020
Thanks to everyone who helped us meet our match this year! This year's match was the biggest yet and I gotta tell you, that last week was a little bit of a nail biter, but you all really came through. Thanks so much to David Turner and Danielle Sucher, Leslie Hawthorn, Martin Krafft, Daniel Kahn Gillmor, Mark Wielaard, Bdale Garbee, Private Internet Access and one Anonymous donor. You helped us inspire both returning folks and new folks to donate which helps us achieve software freedom for everyone.
Thanks to everyone who shared our posts and talked to people about our work to support alternatives to proprietary software, to build a bigger, more diverse free software movement and defend free software. We don't buy lists or otherwise try to figure out how to spam folks we don't know so we really, really appreciate it when you share our mission with like-minded friends and colleagues. We had hoped to sign up 100 new Supporters and because of all of you, we did it!
Thanks especially to Chris Lemmer-Webber! They designed our post card, our online holiday card and made the art for our "sign up three friends promotion." (By the way, you can still get that prize if you sign up three friends early this year.)
We don't employ a full-time fundraiser or marketer at Conservancy so we do most of our fundraising in one big push. Thanks so much to everyone who helped us make this year's campaign so successful!
What Free Software Says About Today’s Crises
byon January 14, 2020
I always have a little special appreciation for free software that’s easy to recommend to folks who don’t think or care much about software freedom yet. There are a lot of projects like that, and the one I’ve been talking about the most lately is OsmAnd, a mapping and navigation app using OpenStreetMap data. Whenever I hear people say “I wish Google Maps did X,” OsmAnd almost always does the job with a more discoverable interface. After they’re set up and happy, it’s easy to talk about how OsmAnd doesn’t track your location the same way Google Maps does.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years asking myself whether it’s important to work on free software, or if I should even care about free software, given how pressing so many other problems feel. Climate change, authoritarian governments, antisemitism and white nationalism—these are the problems that are destroying people’s lives by the thousands, today and every day. How is free software even relevant to those problems?
Edward Snowden discussed free software at LibrePlanet 2016 with Conservancy Supporter Daniel Kahn Gillmor. “[The credits of Citizen Four] thank a number of FOSS projects including Debian, Tails, Tor, GnuPG… because what happened in 2013 would not have been possible without free software.” CC BY-SA
I still don’t always have a solid answer to that question. But as I think it through, one thing I keep coming back to is Edward Snowden’s keynote at LibrePlanet a few years ago. His call to action in that talk was to continue working on free software, because the values of free software, like autonomy and privacy, are values most people share. While a lot of people may choose to compromise some of those values to accomplish other things today, proprietary software companies are constantly changing their rules and asking for more. It’s always important and valuable for free software to show and offer an alternative. The most experimental development can help expand the scope of what’s possible, while the smallest documentation patch makes that all accessible to a wider audience.
When the Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap projects began, I’m not sure too many people envisioned that you would have easy access to all that data from a computer in your pocket. But now when people start expressing alarm about how much location data different apps on their phone are getting, and how that data might be used to track protestors, free software has something to say about that, and an alternative to offer in OsmAnd.
When Apple removes an app from their App Store that Hong Kong protestors were using to avoid dangerous areas, free software has something to say about that, and an alternative to offer in F-Droid.
When Facebook says they’ll allow politicians to lie in ads, and Twitter refuses to remove their hatemongering tweets, free software has something to say about that, and an alternative to offer in Mastodon.
Everything Conservancy does aims to make these alternatives more real to more people. Fiscal sponsorship helps fund all kinds of development, from the wildly experimental to the most nuanced polish. License enforcement ensures that people actually have the autonomy over their software and devices that the GPL promises them. Our advocacy and outreach work tells more people about our vision for technology, and how they can join us.
We’re coming up on the final days of our annual fundraiser, with just about $10,000 left to be matched. If you haven’t already, there’s no better time to join us as a Supporter to help us sustain this work. If you are already with us, an extra contribution would go a long way to help ensure we start 2020 strong. I can’t promise I know how every individual task we do addresses the world’s most pressing problems—but I also don’t know what challenges tomorrow will bring. I only know that building a strong foundation now will make sure we’re in the best place to address them when they arise in the future.