As both, a new Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) intern and Berliner, my adventure started in the best scenario possible: the Campus Party Europe. Although I have heard about it (indeed, I share nationality with the events organisers) it was going to be my first participation in one of these events. The localisation chosen for the first Campus Party Europe in Germany was also outstanding: the former Berlin Tempelhof airport which has been converted in a park and a conference centre.
FSFE was participating in the event giving some speeches and talks, a key way to spread our principles, our work and to answer questions about us (and in my case, to understand and comprehend better our labour, too). Indeed, FSFE was contacted by the event organisers not only to participate but also to propose several talks and I was going to enjoy the results of the latter, which was a hard task.
The Campus Party Europe stage named like the ancient philosopher Socrates, was dedicated to Free Software and Operating Systems. So, considering that stage as my essential and indispensable spot for my campusera experience, a “free mind” (without any other thoughts than learning and enjoying this experience), my notebook and some recommendations about several talks, I was prepared for the next four days.
Besides the keynote speakers, like Jon “maddog” Hall, Mark Surman (Mozilla Foundation), Rainey Reitman (EFF) and Sir Tim Berners- Lee, I knew I was going to improve and consolidate my prior Free Software knowledge with some really interesting speeches by some people close to FSFE, starting with Hugo Roy talk about Free Software and Neutrality.
Hugo, our French coordinator and a fellowship representative, explained the importance of a neutral network for our society freedom. After it, Matthias Kirschner deepened this idea with his speech about the importance of computers as general purpose machines.
I had enough theoretical background for a day so I was happy when I checked the next speaker. Peter Bubestinger was going to introduce the attenders into professional audio production with free software. Indeed, this FSFE fellow (and Austrian coordinator), is working to get the raw video files from the Campus Party organizers, encode them in a good formats, and provide them on FSFE’s torrent tracker. Not only I will be able to enjoy these speeches again, also all our FSFE fellows!
Yet, there was one speech I did not want to miss, one about legal and law issues. Again, Hugo Roy was coming back to the stage but this time to talk about Terms of Service. Is there anyone who really reads the terms of service of any of the apps, software, products that he is buying, getting, downloading? And if so, is there anyone who really understand them? Those were the questions that the creators of “Terms of Service – Didn’t read” asked themselves, ergo they started this project, explained by Hugo, to allow people to understanding better the Terms of Service providing a summary and making it clearer.
Thursday was also a busy day starting with Lydia Pintscher (KDE) conference about the opportunities Free Software is offering to all of us trying to make the world a better place. After those encouraging words, I decide to check Alessandro Rubini, who promised to write a new Free Software operating system in two hours. He did it and in fact, he wrote a multi tasking operating system in one hour and a half, while explaining it (awesome!). I am a barely computer
illiterate, so I do not think I will be able to do it but at least, as the documentation is available online, I can try.
In 1985 Berlin was still a divided city without freedom but as computers and software was becoming more and more important in our society, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) was founded. Political freedom arrived to Tempelhof airport but still in 2012 there are a lot of challenges against it. Matthias Kirschner went back on the Socrates stage on Friday to get the audience attention about the FSFs, their past and current role as well as their prospects.
In the digital society, the free access to data is one of the key points to guarantee freedom so Daniel Kinzler took charge with an interesting talk about wikidata, a wikimedia project that is on its beginnings but that will help to get more accurate data for researches, information or just for public knowledge. And with the sweet taste of a better future, I realized I had only one more day to enjoy Campus Party and a really propitious one!
Saturday arrived with the presence of one keynote speaker, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. After him, there were still three more talks I was interested in, one after the other. The first one, introduced by Michael Christen, was about one of the
main problems of our current information society: how to seek between almost infinite information and how to guarantee a free and uncensored access to this information? He proposed YaCy, a peer to peer search engine and ultimately his talk went through this problem and search engines, the tool we used to find information. Related to the later, the next talk by Pablo Joubert explained the Seeks project, as one of his manager and developers, an interesting p2p network to help users to find the answer to their queries.
After four days I had knowledge and I was even more convince about the importance of guarantee the freedom of our network but also of making our society aware about it. So I ended up my campusera participation with the talk about Free Your Android, by Torsten Grote. We can have better search engines, we can understand the terms of service, we can advocate for a free society but if one of our key tools, our phone, is still not free (or as Torsten was saying it the opposite of smart) and we are letting companies to access our data and our most private information… how can we talk about freedom?
After four days, my awareness and knowledge about Free Software had improved considerably and almost without noticing it. I guess, I was not the only one as it did not only was a melting pot of information, but also a good way to create community, meet other fellows and people interested in Free Software and a way to encourage their daily labour in search of a free network. But above all, my Campus Party was my first jump into the Free Software swimming pool.