In this article, I will talk about an exciting chain of events which brought several universities together: instead of buying different Learning Management Systems, they teamed up and started working on the same piece of software -- together. This led to the development of Sakai, a fantastic Learning Management System. I will also talk about the importance, for organisations like the Sakai foundation, to then merge with similar ones (which share similar goals) for the same reason: avoid work duplication.
Latest from the Bizarre Cathedral.
At a recent free software advocacy event I encountered a great example of free software being used in the community. Chris Kilby has been running an IT suite for residents of his local housing estate in Stepney, east London. A suite of desktop PCs running Edubuntu with a Fedora-based server has been built and runs on a shoestring budget. I recently caught up with Chris to ask him more about the project.
In the near future, the semantic web data will be precisely tagged and thus a whole lot easier to find. This will further spur the trend of the web and global society becoming tight networks that are increasingly interdependent and transparent. Do we have to sacrifice anonymity on the web in order to retain trust for collaboration? Or could we see a web emerge that functions as a kind of operating system with different users and permissions to run this global machine which we call the internet?
The "edge" for free software over proprietary software comes from volunteer effort. You should spend just as much effort on designing a comfortable and inviting project as you would on any consumer establishment: you may not be trying to convince customers to part with cash for your product, but you are asking volunteers to part with their time for your project (which is not any easier).
These days there's a lot of buzz about "Web 2.0" and making websites more interactive, but what's really going on is a reconnection to the community nature of the internet. Collaboration, cooperation, and the information commons are all ideas that pre-dated the world wide web in the form of older internet technologies. In today's distributed computing environment, though, these technologies have really flourished. Here's a guide to eight that you should consider making use of in building a community around an information commons project of any kind, from multimedia, to hardware, to software.
The gender inequality among developers and supporters of free software is stunning. Less than 2% of us are women, according to studies conducted for the European Commission. Why? The evidence says we're driving them away. There are even some pretty good published guidelines on how not to drive them away. What's missing is a practical implementation strategy: here I present ten relatively simple changes in how you run your project, to make it more attractive to would-be contributors—especially women.
In a recent article, Ryan Cartwright argued that free software isn't playing the "same game" as proprietary software is. He's right—but that begs the question: what game is GNU/Linux playing?
Thirty years of proprietary software thinking have conditioned us to think that marketshare is a critical measure of success, and so we've convinced ourselves that we have to "win" against Windows in order to "succeed". But this is simply not true. GNU/Linux can be a very great success even if it never achieves more than 1% of the installations in the world. The reason is the difference between "power" and "freedom".
As some of you already know, I am the main developer for Drigg. I donated probably more than 1000 hours of my life to the Drigg project, because I believed in it. After reviewing existing CMSs out there, I believe that Drigg is the best system available today for people who want to create Digg-like sites (but, in fact, when people deploy Drigg they get fully functional Drupal sites...!). You can see my contributions to Drigg daily. One more programmer has joined Drigg, which is going right ahead.
However, Drigg's community is still smaller than Pligg, its main competitor. Why?
There is some news. This is important news about Free Software Magazine, and it affects the community. Please spread the word far and wide, in your blogs, news hubs, social networking, and so on.
What's the fuss about?
Well, all of our readers can now create contents in Free Software Magazine’s site, starting from now.
In this video, I try to answer the question "What is the free software community?" Comments, or even community posts in response to this, are most welcome!
Note: you will need a flash player to see this video. We are examining options. If you have success using Gnash, or know of a video service that is more free software friendly, please let us know!
Think, for a moment, about what the free software community looks like from the external gaze. "Bloody Communists" - I've never actually had a businessman say this to me when I've been explaining free software, but I'm sure they've thought it. I suppose the smarter ones might have thought "anarcho-syndicalists". Choosing to use free software may be simply economic, but contributing to any such project is surely a political statement.
So what is this statement? I'm not the person to write your statement, but I can offer mine.
You probably got to this page by clicking around the web site. There is some great news about Free Software Magazine, which will affect our site and--more importantly--our community.
Please stay tuned -- an announcement will be published here soon!
It has long been the case that proprietary software companies regularly engage in FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) tactics against their opponents. This particularly seems to apply to Microsoft's statements about free software in general and GNU/Linux in particular. Recently I've noticed a surge in the amount of FUD going the other way--from the FOSS community towards Microsoft and other proprietary software companies. Why do we feel it is necessary to fight FUD with FUD
Over the last few years, I've come to accept the fact that regardless of my attempts to quit this job, I am fundamentally a programmer. I wrote a book about security, I am the Editor In Chief of Free Software Magazine, but in the end I am still just a programmer. A lucky one, I must admit.
I can still remember my first LUG meeting; the Greater London Linux User Group at the GND building, London. I met developers, end users, geeks, sysadmins, and a magazine editor who, although neither of us knew it at the time, would later publish my first articles on Linux. These were people with intelligence, soul, and consideration. I had finally found a like-minded milieu for my free software tendancies.
To contrast, in my capacity as the local “geek about town”, I recently attended a one-off event intended to bring together the local geek community to examine the future of the Web 2.0 technology platform. Of all the people present I met only three geeks. Everyone else was a corporate schill wanting to tell me of how their corporate strategy was going to change the face of Web 2.0. Or a marketroid relentless pushing their closed-source buzzword-compliant platform. Or bourgeois recruiters intent solely on badmouthing every employer they didn’t represent. Or a hanger-on, desperate for free beer. Alas, this was not the first geek event hijacked by corporate import.
So what happened to the community?
I had a chance to talk to Steve Lake, at Raiden’s Realm. After a few words, I could tell that the project he was engaged in was very interesting, so I interviewed him...
TM: What is Raiden’s Realm?
RR: We’re a community of people interested in technology, both hardware and software. We help each other survive our computers and we have fun talking about gaming, anime, HDTV, etc. All the “tech geek” topics plus the occasional chile recipe. :) We have a diversified group of members ranging in age from the early teens to the 50 and over crowd.
My neighbor Jim is obsessed with vintage gasoline pumps. He collects them. He restores them. He named his dog Petro. He stores them in his garage, and under his carport. They are beautiful things, I must admit, all shiny and strangely elegant. And though he suffers from severe fibromyalgia, he spends much of his free time restoring rusted and neglected pumps to their original beauty.
I don’t know why he does it. Nobody claims he does it out of boredom, or that he’ll stop doing it because he isn’t getting paid. But I don’t know why he does it.
Neither do I know why I write free software. But I know it’s not from boredom.
Fedora 7 Test 4 was launched last week and I’m excited! Right now I’m downloading the ISO to try it out and, although I’m aware that there are plenty of new features for me to explore in the distribution itself, many of the elements that have me most excited are changes relating to their infrastructure: they are setting out to empower the community more than any other distribution has.
William Pitcock (aka nenolod, aka the guy who wrote Audacious , aka the guy behind atheme.org ) has decided to, in spirit, respond  to my earlier article about ESR and the Bazaar . Every good reply deserves a reply in turn.