Open Source Software and Community Activism

Mar 10 2007 12:30 am
Mar 10 2007 11:00 am

What do people mean when they say "free software"? What do we lose as a movement when we make decisions to use tools that are developed by profit-centric corporations? What community-centric alternatives exist?

In answering the above questions, we will give an accessible history of Free/Open Source software, including touching on licensing and copyright issues and then applying them to an activist community project, Radical Reference. This is a discussion for activists that use the internet as well as those that consider themselves to be techies.

  1. Survey the room to see what the level of technical and library expertise is, and, if it's a small group, what people want to get out of the session.

  2. Open source development and librarianship: perfect examples of organized resistance

  3. Introduction to Radical Reference (mission and tactics)

  4. InterActivist Network model

    • Network of trust
    • Build vs. steal (f/oss vs. piracy)
    • Low maintenance
    • Digital representation of real-world community
    • association with other technology groups built through active collaboration on individual projects (tao, silc) (autonomedia, Info Exchange) (IAA, txtmob) (Mayfirst/Peoplelink, USSF)
    • small scale (think of low-power FM vs. Democracy Now, both are valueble, one is easier for small groups to replicate)

  5. F/OSS definition & history
    • what we mean by free
    • Licensing: protecting the public domain from capitalism
    • Google (when free is not free)
    • Community centric decision making
    • Open source development contrasted with organizing work
    • Openness, transparency

  6. Privacy vs. openness in libraries and Rad Ref

  7. Tools

  8. Favorites from the group

  • Cinelerra media editing for Linux
  • Firefox web browser
  • GIMP graphic/image creation/manipulation (alternative to photoshop)
  • Grass GIS
  • Linux operating system
  • OpenOffice and NeoOffice Microsoft Office clones
  • Scribus desktop publishing
  • Songbird media player
  • SourceForge repository of f/oss tools
  • VLC media player

  • Barriers to using open source tools

  • The Internet as a mass movement
    • Techies as activists
    • Getting help (search on your error messages)
    • Giving back (blog your experiences and problems)(participate in development community as a user)

  • Open discussion
  • Location

    American University Washington DC, DC
    United States