Tag: teaching open source

2020/2021 in Open Source at UNICEF Innovation Fund

Open Source is a means to collaborate and solve common problems; during the COVID-19 pandemic, open data and tools proved useful in quickly tailoring and deploying life-saving services. How has the UNICEF Innovation Fund kept up with latest Open Source innovations?

The UNICEF Innovation Fund invests exclusively in Open Source technology – with today’s rapidly evolving innovation landscape, Open Source software, hardware, data, and content not only create value and generate revenue, but also ensure greater collaboration and impact. This reflection is a look back at Open Source activity and participation stemming from the UNICEF Ventures Team from June 2020 to date (July 2021).

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the evolving and forward-thinking approach to Open Source taken by the UNICEF Office of Innovation.

This article looks at a few aspects of Open Source engagement at the Innovation Fund:

  1. Support models
    1. Legal & policy
    2. Building and leveraging from the community
  2. Case study: Cloudline and upstream engagement
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Introducing UNICEF Open Source Mentorship

This post was co-published on the UNICEF Innovation Fund blog.

2020 saw the launch of a formalized Open Source Mentorship programme for the UNICEF Innovation Fund, built up on two years of work from RIT LibreCorps expertise and consulting.

The Open Source Mentorship programme includes five modules about Open Source intellectual property and communities delivered across twelve months. UNICEF grantees are matched with an experienced Open Source Mentor to guide them through the modules. The mentorship takes an interactive, guided approach to understanding the unique context that each team and product exist within. The assigned Open Source Mentor provides specialized advice and training:

  • Tailored feedback based on business models
  • Existing local user communities
  • Best practices for collaborating together with others on similar challenges.

The geographic diversity in the UNICEF Open Source Mentorship programme is unusual for technology incubators or accelerator programs. All funded projects come from UNICEF programme countries. The UNICEF Innovation Fund provides equity-free funding for Open Source solutions from local innovators and entrepreneurs solving local problems. To date, the Innovation Fund has invested in teams from over 57 countries. Argentina, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, and Rwanda represent the most recent incoming cohort in July 2021.

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What is Freedom?

When I first saw the letter asking for Richard Stallman and the FSF Board of Directors resignations with merely five signatures, I knew I had to sign. Not because I knew it would be the popular thing to do. But because it was what was true in my heart. Only in a sense of deep empathy could I understand the reasons why it had finally come to this. I signed the letter because as much as I have personally benefited indirectly by the legacy of Mr. Stallman in my life, I feel his continued presence is harmful and more damaging at the forefront of the movement.

I don’t say that casually either. I have involuntarily found Open Source as my calling. Or my people. I contribute to Open Source because I love to collaborate and work together with other people. This challenges me. It humbles me in a way that I know I can always learn something new from someone else. For this, Open Source and Free Software have enriched my life. They have also given me, again involuntarily, an odd but productive way of coping with my own mental health issues, anxiety, and depression.

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Cryptographic Autonomy License (CAL-1.0): My first license review

The bookmark was creeping on my browser’s toolbar for months. “Cryptographic Autonomy License” CAL-1.0 on the Open Source Initiative webpage. But today, I decided it was time to do my first amateur license review. This is a fun exercise (for me). Do not take this too seriously!

The Cryptographic Autonomy License is one of newest Open Source licenses on the block. The Open Source Initiative approved it in February 2020. This license also made ripples when it came through. But the question I had, and could not find a clear answer to, was why is it so interesting?

This blog post is my attempt to do a casual coffee-table review of the license. If you agree or disagree, I encourage you to leave a comment and share your opinion and why!

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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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Sustain OSS 2018: quick rewind

This year, I attended the second edition of the Sustain Open Source Summit (a.k.a. Sustain OSS) on October 25th, 2018 in London. Sustain OSS is a one-day discussion on various topics about sustainability in open source ecosystems. It’s also a collection of diverse roles across the world of open source. From small project maintainers to open source program managers at the largest tech companies in the world, designers to government employees, there is a mix of backgrounds in the room. Yet there is a shared context around the most systemic problems faced by open source projects, communities, and people around the world.

The shared context is the most valuable piece of the conference. As a first-time attendee, I was blown away by the depth and range of topics covered by attendees. This blog post covers a narrow perspective of Sustain OSS through the sessions I participated and co-facilitated in.

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Inside Facebook’s open source program at RIT

Originally published on Opensource.com.


Open source becomes more common every year, where it appears at government municipalities to universities. More companies turn to open source software too. However, some companies try to take it a step further, and instead of only using the software, they also support projects financially or with developers. Facebook’s open source program encourages others in Facebook to release their code as open source. They also work and engage with the community to support the projects too.

Christine Abernathy, a Facebook developer advocate and member of the open source team, visited the Rochester Institute of Technology on November 15, 2017. She gave the November edition of the FOSS Talks speaker series. Her talk explained how Facebook approaches open source and why it’s an important part of the work they do.

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What I discovered in Tirana, Albania

The past few months have brought many changes for me. I traveled throughout Europe to experience some of the open source conferences and communities across the continent. Along the way, I met incredible people with powerful stories about their own communities. However, there is one community that I knew about before I came to Europe. The Open Labs Hackerspace in Tirana, Albania is a special community that I was fortunate enough to discover and meet. Together, they have helped set in motion the open source way in their own city.

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Students meet Fedora at Linux Weekend 2017

This article was originally published on the Fedora Magazine.


Open source projects are built online and a lot of their community members are placed all over the world. Even though projects have people from around the world, this doesn’t stop ambitious community members to organize open source conferences or events in their own cities. Whether they’re focused generally to open source or for a specific project, you can find a variety of conferences, hackathons, workshops, or meet-ups all over the world. Fedora benefits from having Ambassadors to attend these events to introduce Fedora and spread the word about the community. It’s not uncommon to see Fedora participating in these events, and Linux Weekend 2017 in Tirana, Albania was not an exception.

Jona Azizaj, Fedora Ambassador and Open Labs board member, kicks off Linux Weekend 2017

Jona Azizaj, Fedora Ambassador and Open Labs board member, kicks off Linux Weekend 2017

From March 25-26, 2017 in Tirana, Albania, nearly 130 people attended the first-ever Linux Weekend 2017. Linux Weekend was organized by Open Labs Hackerspace at the Universiteti Politeknik i Tiranës as an introduction to Linux for beginners. Throughout Tirana, universities have a strong focus on Windows or macOS operating systems and little focus is given to Linux. Open Labs community members wanted to organize an event that would promote Linux as an open source alternative and demonstrate some of its benefits over proprietary environments. The event collected representatives from various communities, including Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, NextCloud, MusicBrainz, and more.

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First-ever overnight hackathon in Albania for sustainable goals

This article was originally published on Opensource.com.


Redon Skikuli addresses all attendees in Open Labs to kick off the hackathon

Redon Skikuli addresses all attendees in Open Labs to kick off the hackathon. © Eduard Pagria, used with permission

The local hackerspace in Tirana, Albania might be small, but they make up for size in spirit. During the weekend of 18-19 March 2017, the Open Labs Hackerspace organized the first-ever 48 hour “open source” hackathon focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are seventeen objectives identified by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to build a better world, starting in our own communities. Some of the goals include quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, clean energy, and more. During the course of the hackathon, participants selected a goal, broke into teams, and worked on projects to make real change in their own neighborhoods. In the spirit of open source, all projects are made available under free and open licenses.

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