March 22-23, 2014
- 1 Day 1: March 22, 2014
- 2 Day 2: March 23, 2014
Day 1: March 22, 2014
John Sullivan, Free Software Foundation
Today, most of our expressions and communications are mediated by software. Free software should be a very political thing.
Keynote: Sue Gardner
Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation
We more or less know what kind of internet we want, but the way things are moving, that's not the internet we're likely to get.
In 2007, the Wikimedia foundation had four tech staff, and eight total staff. Today, the Wikimedia foundation is growing. We have a much larger staff, and we're much less resource-constrained. Who is "we"? "We" is a big overlapping movement with a desire to make the world a better place, to democratize access to information, and to enable people to share.
Everyone needs the ability to get online. Internet access should be affordable to everyone. No censorship, no spying. We want the internet to be a public space. People should be able to produce and consume stuff. To talk, share, and collaborate.
The mobile world is more constrained than the desktop and laptop worlds.
Do you remember stuffing dollar bills into envelopes, and mailing them out to get fanzines?
Consider reading Tim Wu's The Master Switch.
Often, we are too small, and too modest about the projects we're working on.
How does localwiki compare to yelp? Yelp is purely commercial, but localwiki has a civic component (at least in Davis, CA).
We want to be bigger, more credible, and more diverse. We want more power. What has power done for the Wikimedia foundation? The UK's Internet Watch Foundation got Wikipedia blocked in the UK, because Wikipedia contained a picture of of the Scorpion's album Virgin Killer. There was a lot of public backlash, and the Internet Watch Foundation backed off.
We fight chilling effects, such as takedown notices.
For us, "winning" means "getting an outcome that's good for the world". It doesn't necessarily mean "crushing your opponent".
Wikipedia took part in the 2012 protests against SOPA/PIPA. We got people to call their representatives, and congress backed off. The "going dark" protest was very useful because it had an element of surprise. This tactic will probably become less useful over time.
People = power. If you have enough people, you can get stuff done. Aside from tech types, we also need designers, managers, writers, and people that can raise money. We should try to find new people, coach them, and bring them on board. If we do this, we will win.
Question: What about Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Why aren't there social media links on Wikipedia pages?
This is a balancing act. You want to be where the people are, but you don't want to expose your users to the danger of big corporate surveillance. That's why there's no "share" button on Wikipedia.
Question: The SOPA/PIPA protest took place on the English version of Wikipedia. Have other (language) versions done this?
Other language versions have had their own shutdowns. The decision to take down Wikipedia came out of conversations with Wikipedians. We decided not to go to Washington and Lobby; we decided to stick with our core job of purveying free information.
Question: Are you expanding into doing more outreach?
Not substantially more. Wikipedians tend to be self-organizing, and we think that's the best model.
We had a project with the Global Education Foundation, where we asked college professors to give article writing and editing assignments. That got a huge number of people involved.
Fighting Surveillance With Free Software
Holmes Wilson, Fight for the Future
In 2011, we took part in the SOPA and PIPA protests. We succeeded in stopping those bills.
Our next protest was CISPA, which contained many provisions for surveillance.
The Snowden documents show that the NSA was doing everything imaginable to subvert communications security. The NSA is like the Death Star and we should take it down.
The USA Freedom Act is the best we're likely to get from congress.
Whenever someone in politics says "you can't do that", don't believe them.
What if you live in Brasil, and want to do something about US surveillance. What if you live in the US, and want to stop UK and Chinese surveillance?
Yes, the NSA can hack anyone, but they can't hack everyone. There are only so many zero-day exploits, and these expire the first time you use them.
The NSA's surveillance depends on tapped fiber, and on our mistakes. Companies need to encrypt data as it moves between corporate data centers. Any massive repository of unencrypted data can be hacked. Free software and end-to-end encryption provide some assurances.
Properly implemented crypto works, but endpoint security is so weak that the NSA can frequently get around it.
Encryption on the wire thwarts bulk surveillance, but encryption needs to be more accessible to the masses. Hundreds of millions of people using end-to-end encryption would be a huge problem for the NSA.
What should you do? Take your best shot. If we all do this together, it will be extremely powerful.
Take part in the June 5th Reset the Net protests. Tell the world what you're doing. We wanted the internet to be a platform for empowerment and self-expression, not a platform for surveillance and oppression. Free software and crypto is a path that can make a big difference.
Question: What about NSA infiltration of the free software community? With enough bugs, all eyes are shallow.
This problem is hard to overcome, but not impossible.
Have a look at the TAC protocol. It uses certificate pinning, and plays nicely with self-signed certificates. TAC distributes trust among users.
Government infiltration of activist groups is nothing new; it's been happening far longer than I've been alive. Some groups have dealt with this sort of thing for years. We can seek these groups as allies, and try to learn from them.
If HTTPS becomes universal, what will the NSA's next steps be?
OpenPGP: An Overview of the Protocol
Paul Tagliamonte, Sunlight Foundation
This will be a poetic reading of RFC 4880. I'd like to make PGP more accessible. It's interesting, and it's a core part of many Linux distributions.
All data is stored in PGP packets. Packets are the protocol's main building block. A packet is a tuple of (packet-tag, length, data). The packet tag describes the type of data that the packet contains.
Here's what a uid packet looks like:
(0x13, length, John <firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Here's what a public key packet looks like
(tag, length, version, posix date (of key creation), algorithm (RSA, DSA, etc), RSA n, RSA e)
RSA n is a huge prime number, and RSA e is an exponent. OpenPGP represents these huge numbers as length-prefixed integers.
Here's what a private key packet looks like:
(tag, length, version, posix date (of key creation), algorithm (RSA, DSA, etc), RSA n, RSA e, RSA m, RSA p, RSA q, RSA u)
The private key packet contains a superset of public key packet fields. m, p, q, and u are private key components.
Signature packets bind some piece of material to a private key packet.
Note that uid and public key packets are separate entities. This allows a single key to have several uids. More importantly, adding or changing uids does not change your key's fingerprint.
Signatures are bind uid and public key packets together (to form what we commonly think of as a PGP "public key"). More generally, signatures bind a group of packets together.
There's a packet that denotes one uid as a primary uid. Another type of packet represents a signature on a uid. Preferred hashing and signature algorithms are also represented by packets.
Signatures bind private key material with data, in a way that that the binding is verifiable using the public key.
Key signatures bind your private key to other folks public keys.
When signing text documents, PGP normalizes line endings to CRLF. This avoids issues stemming from the way that different platforms encode line endings.
Suggestion: never use your root key for encryption. Only use it for signing.
The Creeping Techno-Surveillance State: What we can do to fight back
Kade Crockford, ACLU
Josh Levy, Free Press
Surveillance is a political problem, and it demands a political solution. Surveillance is connected to many issues: mass incarceration, deportation, and attacks on Muslims, communities of color, and dissidents. Any problem we create can be uncreated. We can fix this.
Think back 50 years. There were no gay rights, no seat belts, African Americans essentially lived under apartheid, there was a Soviet Union, and everybody smoked.
We have government surveillance, corporate surveillance, as well as government/corporate relationships and connections. There's a need to bring people together to organize. Government and corporate surveillance are motivated by the same thing: power.
Fusion Centers are funded by DHS, and they're located all across the country. Fusion centers are where different levels of government get together with industry, and try to "connect the dots" (aka "spy on activists").
Corporate and government surveillance work together. The NSA piggybacks on Google, Facebook, and the like. Advertising and tracking is their business model, and these companies have cozy relationships with the US government. Since the Snowden leaks, big tech's message to government has been "stop threatening our business model".
Surveillance is big business. Billions of dollars a year. Surveillance cameras alone are a billion dollar/year industry.
Telcos are completely disinterested in the privacy of their users. For example, AT&T makes $10 million/year selling information to the US government.
If you're interested in reading a book, try Spys for Hire. About 70% of our intelligence budget goes to private corporations, whose only interest is maintaining shareholder profits.
Many of these things are connected: fusion centers and fracking, racial Justice and surveillance, corporatized government and attacks on free speech.
As organizers, we try to get people's attention, and we're always competing with lots of other things. This is a big challenge.
Surveillance is a threat to all kinds of social movements.
Fusion Centers vs Fracking. In Pennsylvania, the local fusion center worked with fracking companies to monitor and discredit anti-fracking activists.
The FSF folks need to help bridge the gap. Reach out to communities of color, people working on immigration issues, and low-income communities. I hope that people aren't afraid to step outside their comfort zone.
Organizations to look at:
People of color have been targeted for years. Think of the surveillance done to Martin Luther King, or the war on drugs.
Yes, congress is corrupt and the courts suck. But we need people in power to fix these things. We have a better chance of succeeding at the state level.
Two days ago, Rand Paul gave a speech at Berkeley and vowed to start investigating NSA surveillance. Transparency might be the best we can do right now, but it's a start. In Maine, there's a senate candidate who's running on an explicitly anti-NSA platform.
Comment: Legislators that feel the heat are more likely to see the light.
Comment: It makes a difference when ordinary people take time to meet with members of congress.
Comment: Surveillance isn't just an American problem.
Comment: Big corporations have money to spend on advertising, and this allows them to shape cultural opinions. We need people to act as bridges between the tech community, and ordinary people. That bridge has to go both ways.
Question: For people who are doing software activism - what do you need more, people or money?
Yes, we need more money. The FBI has 40,000 employees; the ACLU has less than a thousand. There are more than a million police officers. If we had more money, we could hire more people and do more work. Both time and money are important.
Free press has 25 people on staff. AT&T and Comcast spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying against net neutrality. We're fighting for net neutrality, but we have fewer resources.
90% of political activism is just showing up.
There are calculations that translate phone calls to votes, and letters to votes. Politicians are very aware of these calculations.
Question: What are good ways to funnel money from Wall Street to grass-roots movements? What's the non-profit equivalent of a hedge fund?
A foundation is the non-profit equivalent of a hedge fund. Many non-profits get a sizable amount of money from foundations.
Question: How important is it to work within the legal system you're trying to change?
Government and big corporations are always willing to push the boundaries of law. Activists should feel no reservation about doing the same.
Comment: Framing this issue in terms of international law is very important. It may not make a big difference in the US, but it can bake a big difference in smaller countries. People in big countries - like Russia, China, and the US - should obey international laws.
Question: How can you raise the stature of international laws in the US?
When you go outside the US, you realize that the world is a big place. It's full of lots of people, and they have rights too.
The US won't be top dog forever. When that day comes, we'll want people in the US to have rights under international law.
Comment: Instead of celebrating President's Day, we should celebrate President's and Whistleblower's day.
Mapping for Social Justice
Evan Misshula, CUNY
See https://github.com/evanmisshula. As a side-note, Evan's presentation was a .org file.
GIS is about mapping the Earth's surface. It's a map with a database behind it. This can include the natural world, the social world, and everything man made. 80% of local government decisions have a geographic component. A significant portion of state government has a geographic component. GIS impacts citizens.
Businesses use GIS for many purposes. For example, tracking and logistics. It's also used in many sciences.
We can model to broad classes of information: natural and man-made. We can model geographic information as points, or with polygons.
Columbia University's web site has a lot of R resources.
Most interactive maps are presented as web pages. Tilemall allows you to create a database of bitmaps. D3 is used to draw things on top of map tiles.
You need a coordinates system to refer to points on a map. Examples of coordinate systems: longitude and latitude, the coordinate reference system, street addresses and road names.
When constructing a visualization, you have to figure out which things to emphasize, and you have to stay true to the data. Maps are a great tool for presenting things in time and space.
There are two methods for representing visualizations: vector data and raster data.
Useful R libraries: sp (spatial), and maps. Also spatstats, rgdal, and maptools. meuse is an R data set with mineral data, elevation, and flood frequency.
One of the most famous use of maps comes from the field of public health: mapping cholera deaths to identify a contaminated well.
The R project has a set of "task views". These are collections of libraries that are useful for specific tasks.
Question: How do you use mapping in your social justice work?
In violent crimes, the perpetrators, victims, and witnesses all look the same. There's lots of tit-for-tat violence in poor communities. We're trying to end that. Under the Bloomberg administration, there were over 300 marijuana arrests/day, and 87% of the arrestees were black and Latino. We're looking at misdemeanor arrests vs serious crimes, and trying to find areas that are over policed-relative to the amount of crime that takes place. The NYPD is under pressure to show that they're doing something, so they bust people for pot.
The NYPD's crime data sets don't include cops shooting people. They include people shooting people, and people shooting cops. They leave out incidents where cops do the shooting.
Keynote: Eben Moglen
Respect for our licenses has never been stronger. I enforced the GPL yesterday, against two of the largest IT companies in the world. The tech companies agreed that the GPL violations were a problem, and committed to addressing them. Two generations of doing what we do has made a difference. The the world of generalpurpose computers, we have won.
Three of five of the world's websites run on free software. One out of five runs on a hybrid stack.
We are close to a victory on patents. Next week, the supreme court will hear CLS bank vs Bank Corp. One of two things will happen: SCOTUS will duck, or we will win. If SCOTUS decides that patent law has been unnecessarily broadened, IT will stampede to Capital Hill for a "Restore My Patents" bill. If SCOTUS decides that software patents aren't constitutional, the we'll see a different outcome. Amicus briefs filed in the past have argued that patenting software code is a violation of free speech.
If SCOTUS ducks now, we'll likely have more friends next time.
If we save the US from software patents, we'll likely free the rest of the world. The US won't drive software patents in trade agreements.
Unfortunately, history never ends because you win.
We won with general purpose computers, but they're becoming less important. Surveillance devices (which make phone calls) are the next problem. Mobile devices are a bigger challenge; the hardware itself is built to resist us. We're up against proprietary hardware manufacturers and proprietary network operations. Our efforts with replicant are important, but small. We'll have to play market forces against each other, to break each other's devices, so that we can put freedom inside.
We can bring freedom to "sort of free" software that's made by a surveillance company. From Snowden, more people understand that free software means free society. Now, the world understands that "if you can't see it, the NSA is inside". We have the opportunity to present our arguments to more people, and to collaborate with more groups. We have to engage with government in discussions of internet governance.
We must demand that the net be running on software that is free, reviewable, and transparent. We need to defend technical freedom. We won't be welcome in this discussion, but we have to say it. Otherwise, we're not demanding free software and free society.
Turkey tried to shut down twitter, unsuccessfully. But they might learn that it's more effective to shut down a few thousand mobile phones; just the ones from local dissidents.
To take on governments and network operators, we'll have to be more disciplined, better coordinated, and more politically active. We must demand that mass surveillance is wrong, no matter who the target is. This is a tall order.
The fights that are starting now will go on for a long time. This is the last generation of the human race that gets a choice.
Question: What if the courts agree with Oracle's argument that APIs are copyrightable?
If that happens, you'll be able to copyright the rules of Parcheesi, and the toy manufacturers will sort it out for us.
Question: What happened with the freedom box?
A fire in Colorado burned down our project leader's home, and all of our work. We're continuing, and a year behind, but what can you do about it. We're working on a 0.2 Freedom Box release. On the bright side, TAILS did wonderful work in 2013.
Question: If you demand that the net run on free software, aren't you moving from a bunch of fiefdoms to a monolithic thing?
Individuals should run whatever they want. The root name servers are a public service, and the public should decide what they run.
Keynote: Richard Stallman
Our adversaries don't like it when we write our own software and run it. We have to be ready to fight a political campaign if congress tries to pass laws reinstating software patents.
Our next big challenge involves hardware manufacturers, whose hardware is designed to prevent users from installing free software. It should not be legal for companies to sell devices that censor what users are allowed to do.
Phones are general purpose, but they're not computers. iThings can only run software that Apple allows them to run. It's not just government censorship we have to worry about; it's corporate censorship too.
There are thin clients, like the Chromebook. You can change the software they run, but they steer users towards keeping data on corporate servers. You lose control over your data, and you use control of the computation. To have control, you need to do your work on your computer, with your own copy of the software.
For now, say "no" to the hardware. Freedom sometimes requires sacrifice. Risking your life takes true heroism, but doing without a convenience, that's something everyone should be able to do.
We need to reject the term "cloud". It matters where computations are done, where data is stored, and who has control over it.
Today non-free software is typically malware. Years ago, that wasn't the norm. It's become normal practice to make programs malware, and developers of proprietary software know they can get away with it. By "malware", I mean "a program that's designed to mistreat users". Spying, DRM, and digital handcuffs are all examples of this. People talk about malware as "software that's not supposed to be in your computer", but it's really software that mistreats users, whether it's supposed to be there or not.
The threat to privacy isn't just from the internet. We have automatic license plate readers, automated toll collectors.
Who watches the watchers? The whistleblowers do, and our government goes to great lengths to prosecute or persecute them. We have to restore the situation where someone can report something to a journal without resorting to professional spycraft.
We need to get back to the day of having less surveillance than there was in the Soviet Union.
We need data collection laws that narrowly limit surveillance. That's consistent with human rights.
We need reverse engineers, who can figure out how to replace non-free drivers, and non-free firmware.
Richard presents two awards. Matthew Garrett gets the Software Freedom Award for fighting against restricted boot. The Gnome foundation gets the Applying Free Software to Making Society Better award for their outreach to women program.
Day 2: March 23, 2014
Keynote: Jacob Applebaum
The people who are writing free software are writing the future. Usability is a big challenge. For example, I spent the better part of a day getting gstreamer to work over Tor. If it took me the better part of a day, it would take Glenn Greenwald an infinite amount of time.
Here is the bad news: the internet is under total surveillance, in the form of deep packet inspection. NSA surveillance is an unreasonable search, and it is a seizure.
There are "SIGINT enabled" proprietary software packages. These include software packages marketed as "security software". There is a tension between signals intelligence and communications security.
Free hardware is absolutely critical. We know what the NSA is doing, but we don't know who else is doing it. We should assume that the NSA isn't the only entity conducting mass surveillance. For encryption, we should think in terms of a 100-year safety period.
The NSA appears to have resources in certificate authorities, which enables them to do man-in-the-middle attacks on TLS.
Anonymity doesn't make surveillance impossible, but it makes surveillance much more difficult.
The SIM card in your phone is a piece of proprietary software, running inside a piece of proprietary hardware. This is attached to your phone, which is another piece of proprietary hardware running proprietary software. People don't want you to understand how these machines work, and they don't want you to talk about how these machines work. It's all about control.
Intelligence agencies aren't the only ones exploiting bugs. Anyone can exploit them.
I hope that some of you apt-get install anarchism from time to time.
Free and open hardware would allow you to examine the firmware, to see if it's been modified.
Skype is very easy to use. The Skype folks have probably purchased every webcam in the world, and they've made Skype play well with all of them.
Active attackers are a threat. These are folks who try to break into your computer, and steal your long-term encryption keys.
When you teach things to journalists, pick one or two things to impress upon them. For example, verifying key fingerprints. If a journalist doesn't use PGP, OTR, and Tor, then I won't work with them, because they can't guarantee communications privacy.
I'd like to see us develop techniques for developing verifiable builds. We'd be able to download a piece of software, compile it, create a distribution tgz, and verify a checksum on the end result. This would give us another tool to detect compromised code.
What's the most effective way to prevent someone from turning on the microphone in your computer? Open up the computer and physically remove the microphone. Free hardware would have a little LED that lit up when the microphone was active. Ditto for the camera.
Privacy, security, and liberty are all processes, not products.
Question: What are the fundamentals of privacy that we should teach?
It's not about privacy; it's about liberty and autonomy, and the freedom to form thoughts without revealing what you're thinking.
Question: Should Debian try to integrate Tor more?
Question: Any news on the Freedom Box?
I thought that people were taking anonymity and treating it like a luxury product. Anonymity (via Tor), has probably saved my life a couple of times.
Question: What about anarchism and free software philosophy?
The basic ideas of anarchism are solidarity, respect, and human rights. I think these philosophies are consistent with free software. But there's a lot of bad propaganda out there. I'd encourage people to look at the work of Emma Goldman.
Question: What about countries that are blocking Tor?
Integrate Tor into more products, so that the collateral damage is greater. Censorship is a second-order effect of surveillance.
Thanks for being here. I'm really sad that I cannot set foot in my own country right now.
Free Software Messaging Meeting
One attendee reports that there is a voting machine which runs free software. The Parks Department in Cleveland runs on free software.
There's a project called "government @ github", and anyone with a .gov email address is welcome to join. It's a place for people working in government to share code with one another.
We could develop a Wikipedia page listing places where free software is used in government.
Libre Office is a good way to introduce people to free software.
- http://freesoftwarepact.eu. Free Software Pact works on bringing free software to the European Parliament.
Tracking Changes: Using Free Software Across Activist Movements
April Glaser, EFF
Ana Martina, Prometheus Radio Project
Libby Reinish, Free Software Foundation
Dan Staples, Open Technology Institute
The EFF is currently involved in two lawsuits against the NSA.
(Anna) RFree is free software that helps users find available FM frequency allocations. It was developed by the Prometheus Radio project. RFree knows about the FCC's spacing rules (to prevent interference). Often, you'll still need a radio engineer to certify that your station will not create interference. RFree allows non-engineers to take on much of this work.
Radio is still really relevant: it spreads waves over the air. It's harder to be hacked, but it's also very hard to deal with FCC bureaucracy. We've helped a lot of people file licenses for community radio stations.
(Libby) I started off by doing work in community radio and community media. Groups doing social justice work should find a natural fit with free software. If you're working for social change, then you're probably a surveillance target. Free software isn't always practically better, but that's not why we use it. We use free software because it's ethically better.
(April) I started using free software because it was free to download, and I couldn't afford programs like Microsoft Office.
(Dan) I work with the Commotion project. All the activists I've worked with have relied on free software for something.
Commotion is a product for setting up wireless communications infrastructure. We're focused on usability; making the software easy for non-techies to use.
Before Hurricane Sandy, one of our partners worked with Brooklyn's Red Hook initiative, to set up a Commotion wireless network. When Sandy hit, our network was the only one up and running. A lot of people came in to work on our wireless infrastructure. We ran training programs, to teach people how to set up these networks.
A large portion of our funding came from the US government. Around the world, this causes some skepticism about our project. Being free software helped us with this, particularly in the area of transparency. There are sustainable models for funding free software projects. Lots of projects aren't financially sustainable; that's something worthy of conversation.
(April) People building free software are building it for communities. At the EFF, we use CiviCRM every day. All of our newsletters are run out of Civi. It helps us communicate.
(Dan) A big part of Commotion is working with communities to install wireless networks. We've created the commotion construction kit to help people with installation. We're targeting people that want to build community services.
(Anna) A free software program won't save the world if you're the only person who understands how to use it. We need to share skills. Software becomes powerful when people can use it as a tool. If people don't understand a piece of free software, they'll go back to whatever they're were using before.
(Libby) We're going back and revamping our introductory materials, which is something we haven't done in years.
(April) Often, campaigns are an ensemble of many organizations. Some don't use free software, and some don't have strong privacy policies. How can we overcome these differences and work together?
(April) Developers play a key role in explaining free software.
Question: How do you balance the hard-line stance against proprietary software against the need to respond. Would the FSF consider having a virtual machine with a pirated copy of Windows, for opening window documents?
I doubt we'd keep a pirated copy of Windows laying around. I think "send me a non-proprietary version" is a good form of advocacy.
Political work always involves compromise. Do you force the person to send a nonproprietary format, or use the non-free format for efficiency? We can help people to see the political implications of this.
Question: What are some free software tools for radio?
We distribute a bootable CD with all the necessary software for doing radio: audio editing, streaming, players, and such. We've found people who see proprietary software as limiting, if they've used free software first.
Question: Could one of you talk about funding? It's wonderful to be funded by grants, but sustainability is a problem. Crowd funding is more sustainable, but it's also more work.
The FSF helps some projects with fiscal sponsorship. We try to take CRM and donation infrastructure off your plate.
Question: I have the impression that large portions of the country don't have broadband internet access, because the population density is too low. Could radio or mesh networks help there?
Looking into how these communities could create and fund this kind of infrastructure is a good question. Sometimes we underestimate the power of grass roots movements. I'd like to brainstorm with people about funding free software projects.
Question: In your organizing, have you seen changes in the perception of free software?
Yes. People I've worked with have become promoters of Free software.
Comment: There often seems to be a gap between free software advocacy and social justice groups. In some communities, getting an old computer for access to the internet can be a huge help.
Comment: Check out the Allied Media Conference in Detroit. Lots of groups are doing that kind of work.
Question: Is the red hook network still up?
Yes, it's still up.
Question: Have you published the costs associated with building the red hook network? Yes, they're on our web site.
We can't all be Cyberspace Lawyers: How Messaging May be our Most Important Obstacle
Karen Sandler, The Gnome Foundation
My pacemaker implant contains software. In fact, it contains proprietary software that I'm not allowed to examine. This has really motivated my activism for free software. People have really been willing to listen to me, and understand why I care. The Gnome group recently tried a marketing exercise: find a list of words describing Gnome, and come up with a sentence describing the entire project. Our sentence was "Gnome is an independent computing environment, crafted by hard-working idealists, working for a better world".
We need to be less modest about the work we're doing.
Messaging free software is hard, but it's also very important. It's hard to get people to pay attention to free software.
We have a great opportunity right now, because people are becoming interested.
We've always been very good at recruiting among ourselves. We need to reach beyond our ranks, to find people with skills like marketing, press, and usability.
Visual, persuasive infographics would help. Having elevator pitches would help. Coding isn't a talent above all else. There's a real need for skill diversity. Diversity means designing tools that can be used by the community at large. Reach out to other groups. If they don't care about free software, we should find out why. Assume competence in others. Write down what you do for free software, and why. Put it on a blog.
Apple sells lots of iPads to kids. The good news is that they'll all be broken in a year.
If we can't explain ourselves, then what are we doing, and why?
Question: Was there a turning point in the need for messaging free software?
It's been slowly building. The debate around free software vs. open source is really a debate about messaging.
Question: We have the time and resources, but do we have the coordination?
In-fighting is unfortunate; it's better to work together were we share common interests. Coordination is hard.
Question: How can we do outreach, and where do we send people?
Things vastly improve when you involve mentors, and show people where to begin. If someone approaches you on an IRC channel and says "how can I help", say yes, and work with them.
Question: Are there other movements we can look to?
I think of the food movement as a model. The Omnivores Dilemma was an engaging narrative that got people involved.
Question: How is free software compatible with earning a living?
There are great jobs for writing free software, and people who have those jobs consider themselves fortunate. Developers have a lot of power. Advocate permissive licenses as a way to further adoption.