Let me issue a disclaimer right off. Before I ever typed my first GNU/Linux command in a terminal the Free Software Foundation was fighting the good fight for free software and all the issues surrounding individual freedom and privacy both on and offline. All of us owe it a debt of gratitude for the work is has done and continues to do on behalf of the principles of a free society and free computing.
The picturesque village of Yankeetown on Florida’s Nature Coast has been the recent target of a large time-sharing resort condominium development proposal. Several townsfolk looked into the development and discovered what appeared to be corrupt practices in the town government. A loosely organized group of citizens decided to coordinate and share information via a web presence. Beyond any expectations, the picture albums, message boards, and mailing lists they used have been the catalyst for gaining state-wide attention and have led to direct intervention from the Governor’s office.
Bruce Byfield of Linux.com has a great editorial up about Why FOSS isn’t on activist agendas. Bruce points out that although FOSS enthusiasts are great at discussing their “shared values” within their own niche, they’re not very good at reaching out to the broader community—particularly folks over 40 who tend to be more active and influential in politics than the under 30 “techie” crowd: