Tagcapitalism

How did Free Software build a social movement?

The Free Software movement is rooted to origins in the 1980s. As part of a talk I gave with my colleague and friend Mike Nolan at FOSDEM 2020, we analyzed how the Free Software movement emerged as a response to a changing digital world in three different phases. This blog post is an exploration and framing of that history to understand how the social movement we call “Free Software” was constructed.

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FOSDEM 2020, pt. 1: Play by play

FOSDEM 2020 took place from Saturday, 1 February, 2020 to Sunday, 2 February, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium (shortly after Sustain OSS 2020 and CHAOSScon EU 2020):

FOSDEM is a free and non-commercial event organized by the community for the community. The goal is to provide free and open source software developers and communities a place to meet to:

– Get in touch with other developers and projects;

– Be informed about the latest developments in the free software world;

– Be informed about the latest developments in the open source world;

– Attend interesting talks and presentations on various topics by project leaders and committers;

– To promote the development and benefits of free software and open source solutions.

fosdem.org/2020/about/

This is my third time attending FOSDEM. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent our engagement with the UNICEF Office of Innovation and the Innovation Fund. For FOSDEM 2020, I arrived ready to give my talk (coming in pt. 2) and honestly to see where the weekend took me.

Planning out FOSDEM is hard. So, my strategy is to figure it out as I go, since most of what I get out of FOSDEM comes from casual conversations and “hallway track.”

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Why FOSS is still not on activist agendas

On December 13th, 2006, author Bruce Byfield reflected on why he thought Free and Open Source Software (F.O.S.S.) was not on activist agendas. My interpretation of his views are that a knowledge barrier about technology makes FOSS less accessible, the insular nature of activism makes collaboration difficult, and FOSS activists reaching out to other activists with shared values should be encouraged. On December 13th, 2019, is FOSS on activist agendas? The answer is not black or white, but a gray somewhere in the middle. This is my response to Byfield’s article, thirteen years later, on what he got right but also what he left out.

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