Comments on FaiF 0x22
I have some comments on today's episode of Free as in Freedom: 0x22: Elder's Methods of FOSS Activism. Obviously you should listen to it (and add FaiF to your favorite podcatcher. You will be the forth listener! ). This oggcast is the first in a series from the first Legal Issues DevRoom at FOSDEM which Karen, Bradley, Richard Fontana and I organized.
I think Bradley was critical of Ambjörn's talk not enumerating all the collaboration that has taken place in the FLOSS community. To be fair Ambjörn himself said he had tried to enumerate various examples (and has 196 or so pointers on his blog ... see the ?Speakers page for blog links). Karen makes the point that it is precisely these sort of events where we can learn about activisim across a broad range of our communities.
I appreciate Ambjörn's view that we can develop and use various norms and legal tools to help promote Internet Freedom generally, but sometimes activism is necessary to educate and move public policy (e.g. the SOPA protests). Indeed we seem increasingly under threat of being limited to walled application gardens or even being literally firewalled from the open Internet.
The key takeaway, I believe, is we need to collaborate more between Free Software, Open Source, Free Culture and broader Internet Freedom communities generally. In a conversation with Mike Linksvayer after the DevRoom session we discussed the challenge from a FLOSS project level of designing the licensing of software and non-software artificacts such that both could evolve together over time. This is a tricky issue which involves "or later" (plus licensing) versions and software/non-software licensing compatibility. We shared the observation -- apropos to Ambjörn's talk -- that many humanitarian or otherwise public activisim efforts often don't make FLOSS part of their agenda (and, in fact, may not even be aware of it). We need to do a much better job at this collaboration and cross-community education.
As for the logistics of the DevRoom allow my to publicly express a mea culpa. I have been to FOSDEM before and I know how challenging it is to fit "a 20lb conference in a 10lb bag" (as @spot said). I knew that 30 minute sesssions would be short... We had so many great proposals that I was happy to hear from as many as possible. However it is true that this was ultimately too short and the format did not adequately allow for Q/A, discussion, time to change DevRooms and setup for the next speaker. And I especially want to apologize to anyone who was waiting outside the DevRoom that I steadfastly refused to let in . I didn't want the FOSDEM volunteer organizers to have the University withdraw support for future conferences due to violating fire codes.
I hope everyone will be able to check out the ?slides and/or audio oggcasts of the talks as they become available. And, yes, we'll hopefully get a bigger room and plan for more discussion time next year!