Baobáxia at FOSDEM

At the upcoming FOSDEM, I’ll be presenting the Baobáxia system, previously mentioned on this blog quite some time ago.

On the corresponding FOSDEM presentation page, the talk is described with these words:

Baobáxia is a community-built project to connect about 200 Brazilian quilombos to assist the interchange and preservation of traditional, community-built culture.

A special challenge is found in the fact that many of these communities are located in remote areas with no access to the Internet. It is therefore imperative to be able to synchronize multimedia data offline.

Technically, the system uses git-annex to solve the challenging problem of offline distribution – but the really important part of the process is the community effort involved.

The Rede Mocambos is a network of about 200 Afro-Brazilian and indigenous communities. As a network, it is focused on creating new infrastructure and strengthening the communities through the use of free software.

Baobáxia is a system designed to unite these communities in an offline network. Each community will upload their local cultural production (in the form of documents and multimedia content) to their local node of the system and have their contributions synchronized to the rest of the network. Nodes with an internet connection can synchronize directly from other nodes on the internet, while offline communities can synchronize their contents during the frequent meetups and visits with other communities in the network.

Baobáxias purpose is to provide traditional communities with the infrastructure to create and preserve their own digital culture on their own terms. The offline distribution is very important as many of these communities will probably never have fast Internet access due to their geographical location, but the creation of a free and community operated infrastructure for sharing multimedia data may also be seen as an important alternative to centralized global monopolies as YouTube and Facebook.

The system has now been operating for about a year and currently contains 30 nodes corresponding to about 20 different local communities. The project’s efforts are currently directed at consolidating the current features, planning new features for future releases and giving workshops for users and administrators in the communities.

Technically, the system is built in Python and Django, with a front end based on Java Script and uses git and git-annex to synchronize the media. The important part of the process, however, is the community building aspect. Baobáxia represents the hope for the digital future for an existing network of ~200 traditional communities which are already keen on using free software and free technology to propagate and develop their culture.

Organizing this year’s LibreOffice conference

Conference opening

Leif Lodahl opening the conference, emphasizing among other things that LibreOffice is about free software - as in freedom.

At the instigation of my colleague Leif Lodahl, I had the honour of co-organizing this year’s LibreOffice conference here in Aarhus. It was an amazing experience to see the community behind one of the world’s most important free software projects, a system with many millions of users that is a cornerstone of any attempt to migrate existing organisations away from proprietary software.

As an organizer I didn’t really have time to speak with anyone, but I did meet a lot of good people – far too many to mention, but including The Document Foundation’s director Florian Effenberger, FSFE Hamburg coordinator Eike Rathke and former FSFE employee Sam Tuke. If I manage to go to FOSDEM next year, I hope to meet some of the people again and maybe this time have a chance to talk.

There were a lot of interesting talks, many of them about some quite advanced subjects, including some of the more esoteric aspects and uses of C++11. The event was kindly hosted by the municipality of Aarhus in its new, high-tech library building Dokk1.

All in all, the conference seemed to be a success, with three days packed with talks, hackfest and other social events in the evenings and about 150 registered attendees from at least 33 countries.

See also: Announcing the LibreOffice Conference for 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark

Relaxing at LiboCon

Relaxing with a beer after the first day of the conference.

Preparing hackfest and dinner party

Preparations for the hackfest and dinner party - the latter part kindly hosted by the University of Aarhus

Attendees listening to a talk.

 

Update, conference, hackfest, etc.

I’ve been far too busy to write much here about my activities. What have I been working on?

Free software. And permaculture and other things, but mainly free software. The last weeks, we’ve been working on organizing this year’s LibreOffice conference in Aarhus. As part of that, we’re organizing Denmark’s first LibreOffice hackfest ever in Open Space Aarhus, our local hackerspace.

To quote what I wrote earlier today:

At the time of writing, there’s 42 registered attendees.

And the good news is: Everyone is welcome!

The event will focus on “C++11 in LibreOffice” and on bug triaging and bibisecting. There’s going to be drinks, snacks and dinner available.

  • The event is taking place at OSAA on September 24, starting at 17:30 hours.
  • Just before the event starts, the Aarhus C++ User’s Group will have a brief meeting in the space.
  • There will be non-alcoholic drinks,  beer and snacks
  • Concurrently, there will be a party for the non-hacking LibreOffice community in the Nygaard building just across the street, in the University’s Department of Computer Science.
  • Dinner will happen at 19:00 hours in the Nygaard building, for hackers and non-hackers alike. People will be on hand to show you the way.
  • Please register for dinner so we can order the food for you!
  • After dinner, hacking and socializing will continue until around midnight.

PROGRAM

  • 17:30 People arrive
  • 17:45 Welcome by a member of the hacker space board, introduction to the evening’s themes
  • 18:00 Hacking and socializing
  • 19:30 Dinner
  • 20:00-00:00 Hacking and socializing

Times are approximate.

Do seize the opportunity to work with the hackers from one of the world’s largest FOSS projects!

The hackfest is organized as part of this year’s LibreOffice Conference - and I’m happy that so many conference participants will be coming to meet our vibrant local hackerspace community!

If you’re anywhere near that day: Do come!

Baobáxia – the Galaxy of Baobab Trees

Baobáxia - the Galaxy of Baobab TreesYesterday evening, I gave a T³ (Tech Talk Tuesday) talk in our local, friendly hackerspace about the Mocambos network and their software project Baobáxia – a free software project to connect very widely distributed, often rural communities, namely the Brazilian quilombos.

Since my visit to Brazil in April, I’ve been involved in this project as a programmer, at least as far as my time has allowed.

Above, you can find a link the slides from my presentation – you can also read them in PDF format (with functional links) here.

Announcing the LibreOffice Conference for 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark

The LibreOffice Conference for 2015 will take place in Aarhus, Denmark, as a collaboration between the Document Foundation, the Danish LibreOffice community, the FSFE local group and the municipality of Aarhus. Also involved are the local hacker space and (hopefully) other local free software groups. I will personally  be involved as a community contact, i.e. as the person with feet on the ground in Aarhus, responsible for the contact to local NGOs. The event will be hosted by the municipality.

As the Document Foundation writes on its blog:

Aarhus Waterfront

The Document Foundation (TDF) announces that the LibreOffice Conference 2015 will be jointly organized by the Danish LibreOffice community in collaboration with local F/OSS groups and the Aarhus municipality, and hosted at the brand new Urban Media Space, from September 23 to September 25, 2015.

In addition, on September 22 the LibreOffice community will gather for several face-to-face meetings: Board of Directors, Advisory Board, Engineering Steering Committee, and Certification Committee.

Aarhus is a city of education, knowledge and research. Its university is internationally recognized for its contributions within, among other fields, social sciences, technology and science. Aarhus is known to attract talented students from around the world which also provides the city with a great diversity.

“Hosting the LibreOffice Conference will be an exciting opportunity for the entire Danish free software community”, says Leif Lodahl, a long time leader of the Danish LibreOffice community, a founder of The Document Foundation, and the architect of several large migration projects to LibreOffice. “We are looking forward to welcoming LibreOffice volunteers and advocates from every corner of the world”.

As the day comes nearer, I may well want to reach out to the wider FSFE community to ask for assistance and support. I’m certainly excited to see how it will  work out.

ownCloud and free software in the cloud: Meet Frank Karlitschek in Open Space Aarhus

I’m co-organizing this event, involving our hackerspace and the FSFE local group in Aarhus:

Frank Karlitschek, creator of ownCloud, will give a talk centering on ownCloud, free software in the enterprise and data protection in a post-Snowden world.

The talk will be followed by a discussion with the audience and a discussion panel consisting of:

  • Frank Karlitschek, Debian developer and creator of ownCloud
  • Christian Orellana, CEO of Cabo, a company that build enterprise clouds from free software
  • Carsten Agger, local group coordinator in Free Software Foundation Europe and software developer in Magenta, a company that specializes in free software mainly for the Danish public sector.

The event will take place in Open Space Aarhus on

Wednesday, October 1 at 18:00 hours

Do bring  a friend, this is going to be interesting!

 

Call for Papers for Book on Technoshamanism

From July 1st till October 30th we are accepting materials for our forthcoming publication TECHNOSHAMANISM. It will be a bilingual edition (in Portuguese and English) and is published as a collaboration between editors in Brazil and Denmark.

We are inviting papers on the subjects of technoshamanism, animism, indigenous people’s culture and rights, shamanic practices, biodiversity, agroforestry, permaculture, retelling of shamanic experiences, hallucinogenic plants, indigenous struggle, DIY culture, science and technology, art and electronics, transhuman interfaces based on technological gadgets, and any other topic related to the broader concept of technoshamanism.

The publication will discuss the issue of ancestral knowledge and new technologies and will pursue ecological alternatives as well as models and aesthetics to obtain new parameters for acting in the world in an era where not only the water supply, but also the very existence of forests and their peoples, of nature itself, are at risk.

We are accepting articles as well as fiction or techno fiction, images, comics, photonovels and any other suitable means of expression, as long as they are no longer than ten pages for each person or group. The publishing, in print as well as online, will be taken care of by the technoshamanist network. We will accept submissions in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Please send your material to the following email address: xamanismotecnologico@gmail.com

On behalf of all editorial staff

Fabiane Borges
Carsten Agger

Technoshamanism: Collaborating with the Pataxó

_DSC7622

One of the more important parts of the 1st Festival of Technoshamanism (previously covered here, here and here) was several points of collaboration with the local Pataxó Indians.

The Pataxó is an indigenous people of about 12,000 people who live in the extreme south of the Brazilian state of Bahia, mainly in the area between Porto Seguro and Caraíva. Traditionally, the Pataxó have lived near Monte Pascoal, in the aldeia or settlement (or “village”) called Barra Velha. In 1951, they suffered a devastating massacre at the hands of the Brazilian military police, who basically burned down the settlement and dispersed the Pataxó, who for many years hereafter often had to be  discreet about their heritage. In the 1980′s and 90′s the Pataxó started fighting for their lands and succesfully reclaimed several of their old settlements, among them the Aldeia Velha located in Arraial d’Ajuda and the area around Monte Pascoal near Caraíva. A retelling of the struggle of the Pataxó for their lands can be found here (in Portuguese).

Today, the Pataxó live in 29 aldeias mainly located in the area between Monte Pascoal and Porto Seguro. Their main source of income is agriculture and tradional craftmanship, and though they have made great advances, their claim to their lands is by no means secure. The area is home to vast financial interests in agrobusiness, who would love to be able to clear what remains of the Atlantic rain forest and plant high-yielding eucalyptus everywhere, and their relationship with the rest of society is still precarious, as craftmanship and tourism are a somewhat insecure financial foundation.

After the massacre, the Pataxó might have opted to simply integrate into Brazilian society, abandon their culture and adopt a more assimilated lifestyle as workers and farm hands. But many of them also recognize that if they fail to conserve their culture, they will disappear and become nothing more than a few thousand urban and rural poor – while if the do conserve their culture and remember who they are, they may yet conserve an incredibly rich historical and cultural heritage.

The collaboration between the Pataxó and the participants in the festival was  natural because the concept of technoshamanism is, as has been discussed, all about reconnecting with ancestral knowledge and a connection to nature. In fact, one of the reasons for selecting Arraial d’Ajuda as the location of the festival was that several of the activists behind the festival already had good relations with the Pataxó. One of those people is Regis “Bailux”, who lives in Arraial and founded the hacklab called “Bailux”. At the festival’s opening (pictured above) Regis explained how his life changed completely ten years ago, when he discovered free software. His passion for free software led him to create Bailux with weekly meetings around free software, and for years he has been working to bring free software and free technology to the Pataxó to enable them to connect to the new digital world. For the Pataxó, collaboration with and solidarity from social movements as well as from other independent people are important, as they may yet need all the support they can get in the struggle for their culture and their land.

As a European and a person from a very different culture, I was honoured to be invited as a friend and a guest of these wonderful people.

The village pajé, or medicine woman, in Aldeia Velha:

Scenes from a wedding and sports contest in Aldeia Velha on April 29, 2014:

DSC02482

DSC02427

Captura de Tela 2014-05-14 às 14.00.51-1

Captura de Tela 2014-05-14 às 13.54.42-1

foto-342

foto-241

 

Various snapshots from the village:

foto-168

sou indio pataxó

10252052_10152065755876931_2681055646517988888_n

10155801_10152065756711931_6953539376115659455_n

Elections ’14: Not much to celebrate

The result of the Danish referendum on the European patent court and the unitary patent was, in spite of a rather intense campaign by Prosa, IT-Politisk Forening and Bitbureauet (and, to a lesser extent, our local FSFE group), a clear victory for the “yes” camp. In our defense, the other side had more money and were constantly pounding on the allegation that if the 0,3% of Danish companies that have patents would have to continue validating their patents simultaneously in Denmark, it would somehow destroy the economy. We were also told not to worry about software patents, since the rules explicitly forbid them and of course the European Patent Organization would never issue a software patent. The good news is that very few countries have yet ratified the new patent rules, and the general political squabble may yet mean that the unitary patent may in fact never become a reality. There’s still time to fight against software patents on the European level.

In other news, the nationalist and racist Danish People’s Party gained 26,7% of the votes and is now the largest political party in the country. This could be coupled with the similar victory for the Front National in France. Given our country’s history of xenophobic policies induced by the Danish People’s Party, my analysis of Denmark’s political future is this: “God help us all! Where’s my passport?”

Speaking against the European patent court

This afternoon, I will give a talk at Aarhus University School of Engineering, recommending a no in the upcoming referendum about Denmark’s accession to the unitary patent and the European patent court.

Our main motivation for working against the unitary patent is that the rules about software patents are very unclear, and given a closed-circuit patent-lawyer-only system as created by the European Patent Organization and the court in conjunction, we have every reason to fear the worst. I wrote more about this here.

Below, you can see one of the posters from our campaign. Basically it says that we have to vote NO to patent trolls, as the unitary patent risks creating a patent troll-friendly environment in Europe which did not previously exist.

A NO in the referendum will not immediately help the rest of Europe, but at least unitary patents won’t be valid in Denmark. And, if Denmark votes no because of software patents, and Ireland follows suit in a year’s time when they have their referendum, it may yet help us campaign to change things. And, hopefully, kill software patents (and bio-patents, but that’s another story) once and for all.