FSFE supporters Vienna


Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

Information stalls at Linux Week and Veganmania in Vienna

Sunday, June 16th, 2019
Linuxwochen Vienna 2018
Linux Weeks in Vienna 2018

Veganmania Vienna 2018
Veganmania at MQ in Vienna 2018

Linuxwochen Vienna 2019
Linux Weeks in Vienna 2019

Information stall at Veganmania 2019
Veganmania at MQ in Vienna 2019

Information stall at Veganmania 2019
Veganmania at MQ in Vienna 2019

As has been tradition for many years now, this year too saw the Viennese FSFE volunteers’ group hold information stalls at the Linuxwochen event and Veganmania in Vienna. Even though the active team has shrunk due to former activists moving away, having children or simply having very demanding jobs, we have still managed to keep up these information stalls in 2019.

Linux Weeks Vienna 2019

The information stall at the Linux weeks event in May was somewhat limited due to the fact that we didn’t get our usual posters and the roll-up in time. Unfortunately we discovered too late that they had obviously been lent out for an other event and hadn’t been returned afterwards. So we could only use our information material. But since at this event the FSFE is very well known, it wasn’t hard at all to carry out our usual information stall. It’s less about outreach work and more of a who-is-who of the free software community in Vienna anyway. For three days we met old friends and networked. Of course some newbies found their way to the event also. And therefore we could spread our messages a little further too.

In addition, we once again provided well visited workshops for Inkscape and Gimp. The little talk on the free rally game Trigger Rally even motivated an attending dedicated Fedora maintainer to create an up-to-date .rpm package in order to enable distribution of the most recent release to rpm distros.

Veganmania MQ Vienna 2019

The Veganmania at the Museums Quartier in Vienna is growing bigger every year. In 2019 it took place from 7th to 10th of June. Despite us having a less frequented spot with our information stall at the event due to construction work, it again was a full-blown success. Over the four days in perfect weather, the stall was visited by loads of people. There were times when we were stretched to give some visitors the individual attention they might have wanted. But I think in general we were able to provide almost all people with valuable insights and new ideas for their everyday computing. Once again Veganmania proved to be a very good setting for our FSFE information stall. It is always very rewarding to experience people getting a glimpse for the first time of how they could emancipate themselves from proprietary domination. Our down-to-earth approach seems to be the right way to go.

We do not only explain ethical considerations but also appeal to the self-interest of people concerning independence, reliability and free speech. Edward Snowden’s and Wikileaks discoveries clearly show how vulnerable we make ourselves in blindly trusting governments and companies. We describe with practical examples how free software can help us in working together or recovering old files by building on open standards. Of course pointing to the environmental (and economic) advantages of using old hardware with less resource hungry free software is a winning argument also.

Material

Alongside the introductory Austrian version of the leaflet about the freedoms free software enables, which was put together as a condensation of RMS’ book Free Software, Free Society, one of our all-time favourite leaflet features 10 popular GNU/Linux Distros with just a few words about their defining differences (advantages and disadvantages). I updated the leaflet just a day before the festival. I replaced Linux Mint, Open Suse and gNewSense with the recently even more popular Manjaro, MX Linux and PureOS. I also updated the information on the importance of open standards on the back. We have run out of our end-user business cards for our local association freie.it which makes knowledgable people available to others searching for help. Therefore, we decided to use the version we originally designed for inviting experts to the platform. It obviously was wrong to order the same amount of cards for both groups. Our selection of information material seems to work well as an invitation for people to give free software a try. Of course it feels probably also like a safeguard that people can contact me if they want to get my support – or that of someone else listed on freie.it.

Experiences

The first day was rather windy and we had to carefully manage our material if we didn’t want to have our leaflets flying all over the place. In the very early morning of the second day the wind was so strong that some tents where blown away and destroyed. There was even a storm warning which could have forced the organisers to cancel the event. Fortunately our material was well stored and the wind died down over the day. We also had to firmly hold-on to our sunshade because it was very hot, but beside that everything went fine.

It was just coincidence that Richard Matthew Stallman had a talk in Vienna on the evening of the first day of the Veganmania street festival. So at least one of us could take this rare opportunity to see RMS at a live talk while the other carried on with manning the information stall.

As we didn’t have our posters on Linuxwochen we investigated where they were and got them sent to us via snail mail just in time. We didn’t only get our posters but merchandise too. This was a premiere for our stall. It was clear from the beginning that we wouldn’t sell many shirts since most designs assumed prior knowledge of IT related concepts like binary counting. The general public doesn’t seem very aware of such details and people don’t even get the joke. (If we had had the same merchandise at the Linuxwochen we probably would have sold at least as many items despite having reached a much smaller crowd there.)

Outlook and thanks

There will be another information stall at the second Veganmania in Vienna this year, which takes place in end of August. The whole setting there is a little different as there isn’t a shopping street nearby but instead, the location is on the heavily frequented recreational area of Vienna’s Danube Island. Just like last year, it should be a good place for chatting about free software, as long as the weather is on our side.

I want to thank Martin for his incredible patience and ongoing dedication manning our stall. He is extremely reliable, always friendly and it is just a real pleasure working with him.

Thanks to kinderkutsche.at, a local place to rent and buy carrier bicycles, we could transport all our information material in a very environmentally friedly way.

FSFE information booth at Linuxwochen Wien and Veganmania MQ

Sunday, June 4th, 2017
Gespräche am Infostand
Laufend intensive Beratungsgespräche am Infostand

We organised an FSFE information booth on Linuxwochen Wien from 4 to 6 of May and at Veganmania at the MQ in Vienna from 24 to 27 May. Like every year it went very well and especially at Veganmania we could reach many people not yet familiar with free software. Since during the Veganmania there was a Wikipedia event in Vienna at the same time we even encountered some people from all over the world. For example an FSF activist from Boston in the US.

We had re-stocked our leaflets with new versions of some well received handouts we had in the past and we put the new leaflets on free software programs for specific tasks from the Munich group to good use.

Even if we didn’t have much diversity from volunteers we managed to keep our information desk open to visitors who wanted to ask questions for the whole time the events had opening hours. In some cases we were the last booth to close since we had engaged consultations going on.

At Linuxwochen Wien in addition a local volunteer hosted a well attended 3 hour workshop on image editing with GIMP and an other one for creating new maps in Trigger Rally.

Especially the GIMP workshop did attract many people and there is a clear demand for follow-ups not only on GIMP but on other free designing programs also.

It is noticeable that more an more people are aware of free software and do use it on purpose. If this slight and slow shift is related to our outreach work is uncertain but it is for sure a welcome observation.

From our point of view the most important reason why free software is not the default but still an exotic exception is the fact that it almost never comes pre-installed with new hardware – at least not on laptops or desktop machines. Many people understand this instantly as soon as they are told about common business practices where big corporations do offer better conditions for resellers if they sell their software on all products exclusively. This is almost never an advantage to the customers but profits are usually more important as customers satisfaction and most people are just unaware of the tight grip in which corporations keep them. Sticking with certain products is rarely about satisfaction. Most of the time it would just be to burdensome to try something else. And this obstacles are by design. Unfortunately it is hard to give an impression on what people are missing out if they are not even prepared to try something different. Most people are not very happy with the situation but because all their friends and colleagues share the same frustrations they have the impression that there is no better alternative.

Maybe it would be a promising approach to make testimonials from non-technical people satisfied with free software more available to the public …

FSFE Information booth at Veganmania indoor festival 2017

Friday, March 10th, 2017
Gespräche am Infostand
Laufend intensive beratungsgespräche am Infostand
3 Tage lang Dauereinsatz am Infostand

On the weekend of 24 to 26 February, the first indoor Veganmania festival took place at Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna. At the first celebration of the 20th anniversary of this yearly event (two more celebrations to come) we once again had a very successful booth. And it was even bigger than in the years before.

Our booth was placed directly opposite the entrance. Our neighbours where the vegan running team on the left and VGT, the most active animal rights/animal welfare organisation in Austria, on the right. Therefore we couldn’t have asked for a better spot. A further advantage was the fact that this event was indoors. This way we could use our roll-up and many posters we normally can’t use when we do booths outside.

Confirming our experience from previous years, we can only state once more that the Veganmania festivals are exceptionally good events for having FSFE booths. During the three days we only had rather short breaks from talking to people to take photos or to get something from the many stalls with delicious vegan food. On Friday we started at about 3pm and carried on until 10pm. On Saturday, the longest day, we started at about 10am and went round the clock to 10pm. Sunday was a little shorter again since we started at 10am but had packed up by about 6pm.

Since in past years the Veganmania always took place in a prominent shopping street we thought that most of our visitors where just there by chance. But this year showed that this is not the case as we were in a concert venue with no shoppers passing by. It can’t be denied that Veganmanias really do attract thousands of people.

As usual we had plenty of opportunities to introduce the concept of free software to people who hadn’t come across it before, and many showed serious interest. Our red I love free software baloons made kids happy until we didn’t have any more left. Some people even decided to set up their home computers with free software a few days later. Of course we where happy to assist them with any questions or help they asked for.

Over the years we have become a well trained team of volunteers on our stall. For some strange reason we all seem to share the odd trait of not actually wanting to leave the stall for breaks. Therefore, most of the time we had at least 2, but often even 3 activists at once who where engaged in discussions with all kinds of people. I am very happy that Gregor and Martin supported me again. Without Gregor’s bicycle trailer it would have been hard to get all material to the venue. Martin is an absolute treasure as I hardly gave him any warning. I called him the day of the event and he joined us almost immediately, not leaving the stall (during opening hours) until Sunday evening. Martin actually is someone I first met at our Veganmania information stall a few years ago. Since then he has become a very reliable, competent and always friendly backbone of our public outreach work. I can’t thank my colleagues enough for their patience and commitment.

We were able to convince local activists from other organisations to bring us some leaflets to complete our rich assortment of information materials. We had stickers from the local Chaos Computer Club group and from epicenter.works, a very productive data protection association. On Friday I realised that we could really do with some additional leaflets that we had in the past but which had run out. So I updated these leaflets in the evening and went to a print shop on Saturday morning in order to have them for the rest of the weekend. Unfortunately we didn’t get around to printing an other batch of our well received free games folder in time. But we will organize this soon. In time for the local Linux week’s events and two further Veganmanias.

More

A few days later I realised that the local group System Change not Climate Change offers workshops called Skills 4 change. These include teaching people about Scribus, Inkscape and the GIMP. I went there and offered to do joint workshops going into more detail. Their original workshop didn’t include much practical training due to the fact that they worked on theoretical design know-how at the beginning, giving introductions for all three programs on just one afternoon. I hope we will be able to do proper workshops with practical examples soon.

This is a good addition to the basic computer security workshops I’ve held at the VGT, mostly explaining why free software is the only way to go when aiming for trustworthy computer systems.

Information desks on Autumn events

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to report on our most recent activities yet. We did not only have an information stall at the huge 2015 Game City fair in Vienna but on the Veganmania (aka Move) summer festival in Graz too. An other opportunity to inform the public was an information desk at the Big Brother Awards gala in the Rabenhof Theater organised by the data protection association Quintessenz. Yesterday we even participated at the Linux Presentation Day in Vienna again together with Spielend Programmieren. The last event was just a spontaneous first try. Therefore only few people found their way to the venue. Next time we need to promote the event in advance. This time I myself just got invited one or two days before.

Especially our Quintessenz seems to be a good cooperation partner for future ventures since they organise the Linux Wochen Wien. Privacy obviously has a strong connection to free software. Therefore, over all they are dedicated to software freedom too.

The Autumn events brought us a lot of attention from many people and we did give away lots of leaflets. We need to re-stock information material soon in order to be prepared for further events.

FSFE Fellowship and freie.it at Veganmania in Vienna 2015

Thursday, June 11th, 2015
Gregor mans the information desk
Martin not yet behind the information desk
René fully engaged
The four meter long information desk

This year’s vegan summer festival in Vienna once more was bigger than ever before. It not only lasted four days but it doubled in size also. Last year 35 exhibitors where present. From Wednesday 3rd to Saturday 6th of June 2015 no less than 70 organisations and companies had set up their stalls in front of the Museumsquartier (MQ), opposite the famous museums of art history and natural history.

But not only the festival itself has got bigger, our already tratitional information stand was also larger. We were given more space and could therefore offer about four meters of tightly packed information material for a total of 50 hours (excluding breaks). Unfortunately, beside me, only Gregor was available from our Fellows to man the stall. He came on Wednesday and Thursday. Luckily this didn’t cause serious problems since we encountered unexpected help from other people later on.

Martin has been using Free Software for quite a while and visited our stalls on different occasions over the years. So I knew that he is very knowledgable about the issues we usually speak to people about. When I asked him for help he instantly shifted his time table and jumped in when I needed to rush into the Radio Orange studio for a live show about the festival itself. Not all people feel comfortable doing the technical side of live radio shows. Even if they are very easy, which is true in this case.

Radio Orange is an interesting subject in its own right. Austria was quite late with liberating the radio licenses. One of the first free radios was Radio Orange (o94) and it is set up completely with Free Software. I am constantly amazed how well this is done. Hundreds of very different people are using its setup on a regular basis. Some are more frequent than others. Some are very computer savy. Others avoid computers altogether. But the obviously very skilled technicans, who built and administrate the radio’s setup, manage to give all these very different people a good experience. I’ve been helping with two shows for quite a time now and everything runs 24/7. People doing their own shows, just enter the live studio, and start talking at the right time. It’s as easy as that. Pre-recorded shows are done similarly effortlessly. It’s possible to upload shows beforehand and they get aired at the right time automatically. Heck, there is even an automatic replacement if someone doesn’t show up or forgot to upload anything. I don’t know any other example of a complicated system with such a wide range of user types running this smoothly. Of course I have encountered glitches from time to time, but they where small and dealt with fast. This is an impressive example how powerful and reliable Free Software can be.

Back to the festival: Martin did a great job manning the stall while I was away for the radio show. When I was back he even stayed longer to support the stall. Many friends of mine visited me on the stall, but there wasn’t much chance to talk to me. I was involved in interesting, engaging conversations about Free Software with normal visitors of our stall virtullay the whole time. So often my friends didn’t even get the chance to talk to me and went away after a while of waiting for me to become available again. Even when more than one person was manning our information desk sometimes people didn’t get the chance to talk to us because there was more demand than we could meet.

On Friday René from Frankfurt, Germany showed up. Originally he had just made the journey to visit the Veganmania festival. He had his luggage with him and got stuck at our desk. In the beginning he just was a normal visitor but after a while he stepped in because there where so many people who wanted to ask questions and he obviously could answer them. In the end he helped with manning our desk until Saturday night. Happy with his competent help, I invited him to stay at my place and we had a great time discussing Free Software ideas until late in the night. So we didn’t get much sleep because we set up the stall about 9:30am each day and stayed there until 10pm. Unfortunately, we got on so well that he missed his train on Sunday. Therefore he had to endure an unpleasant train ride back home without the possibility to sleep.

I appreciate the unexpected help of Martin and René and hope they will stick around. Both ensured me they loved the experience and they want to do it in future again.

As usual, many people got lured to our desk because of the Free Your Android poster. Others just dropped by in order to find out what this all was about since they didn’t expect our subject on a vegan summer festival. But of course it was easy to explain how activism and Free Software relate to each other. In the end we ran out of several leaflets and stickers. In the hot weather we didn’t manage to sell the last of our Fellowship hoodies, but we sold some “there is no cloud …” bags and also received a donation.

The information desk marathon left us with a considerably smaller leaflet stack, brown skin like after two weeks of holidays and many great memories from discussions with very different people. The Veganmania summer festivals in Vienna are clearly worth the effort. We even got explicitly invited to join the vegan summer festival in Graz in September since the organising people figured they wanted to have someone informing about Free Software there also. I guess it is not necessary for us to travel to Graz since I’m told there are dedicated Free Software advocates there too.

freie.it at conference on 21st of February

Saturday, February 28th, 2015
freie.it - Computer Support for Free Software
Gespräche am Infostand
Leute nahmen bereitwillig und interessiert unser Infomaterial
Viele Besuche den ganzen Tag über

freie.it is a web platform founded by some members of the Viennese Fellowship group of the FSFE. It aims to help people who are interested in using free software but who do not want to administrate their own computers. At least in Austria all support offers for free software users are aimed at businesses. Therefore only techically interested private people could start using free software in the past if they didn’t happen know others well aquainted with free software willing to help them. To close this gap free.it offers a simple search field to type in buzz words. After submitting the form a list of people knowledgeable with this subjects on free software systems is displayed. People searching for help then can browse through this results and can contact the persons they want to consult. The platform is merely a way to connect people. So all terms can be defined by the people interacting with each other. Some people offer help on a voluntary basis. Others will help for a fee. The only condition for experts offering their services on the platform is the preference of free software.

The team of freie.it invites free software experts to create a profile. After applying to be listed the team reviews the profile and releases the experts to be listed on the platform. At the moment freie.it is in it’s trial phase and does offer services in Vienna only. If everything works out as intended the local restriction can be left behind. Even others can get the freely licenced python code on bitbucket and offer similar services independently.

On 21st of February freie.it was invited to participate as one of 50 initiatives on a conference about wellbeing for all (Gutes Leben für alle). The project was explicitly invited because we applied in a contest a few months ago. The contest aimed to choose the best ideas for sustainable and fair development in our society. freie.it didn’t win anything back then, but the organizers of the conference still wanted us to participate at the conferences fair of initiatives.

Originally the organizers aimed to welcome about 250 people at the recently build new campus of the Viennese universitiy for economics. But in a very short period of time everything was overbooked and in the end about 850 registrations exceeded all expectations. A young assistent from the university told me about a little group of alternative thinkers at the university responsible for such events. Normally nobody would expect the university of economics to host such an event. But some people obviously could move something even in this traditionally not very progressive environment.

The fair of initiatives covered a lot of different subjects. The majority was about better ways to use and share our ressources. There was a focus on local initiatives for connecting people with different ressources and/or skills. Over all freie.it was received very well. The audience was open in a very similar way than the visitors of the Veganmania summer festivals we attended in the last years with a boot of the Viennese Fellowship group of the FSFE. They where open to consider free software as an alternative and did quickly understand the problems with closed standards and proprietary software production. One difference to the people met on the Veganmania summer festivals was the big user base of Apple computers. I think I never met a target group with more individuals using Apple products. I would guess at least eighty percent of the many people I talked to at the event told me to use OSX from Apple.

We set up our very little boot as one of the first initiatives at about 10 am. Even if we had more leaflets, folders and stickers on free software and open standards than any other initiative on other subjects we had only about 60 x 30 centimeters space on a table. It was tightly packed with colorful, inviting material. We could only put our books about free software on display in the late afternoon after some initiatives left and we could use the only then spare space on the table. We where quite buzy the whole day with many interested people and shortly after 9pm we packed everything together and left the venue because it got closed up.

Even if we could not reach tousands of people (like on events such as the Game City fair) I still think it was very well worth taking the time since the quality of our conversations was very high and we still could introduce many people to the virtues of free software.

Three Autumn events 2014

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014



Unfortunately (or luckily?) the Fellowship group was this Autumn so very busy we couldn’t keep up with writing reports. Our work included a traditional Software Freedom Day booth on 20th of September, three and a half days booth and a workshop for Free Software especially for activists on the biggest German speaking animal rights conference, which took place from 9th to 12th October – and at the same time a hugely impressive three days booth marathon with the local business spielend programmieren at the Game City fair in the mayors house from 10th to 12th October. 69,000 people visited the Game City fair and about 4,000 specifically designed leaflets about free games where spread there, not counting our other information material.

The Software Freedom Day booth was very similar to the other booths we did in the DFD and SFD events before. We where happy to note we are increasingly encountering more and more people already familiar with free software. Many did not only hear of it but deliberately are using it. We get the impression being present in public places over and over again slowly makes a difference. Therefore we had many constructive discussions – even if this time not so many people floated our usual spot at the shopping street. Probably because of a huge building place along the shopping street less people where present.

About 450 people visited the animal rights conference. Since most of them are somewhat used to critical thinking and to deviate from the common path this audience is remarkably receptive to the idea of free software. Because of that the workshop on free software for activists was very well received. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough information material since the people visiting the workshop afterwards unexpectedly stormed the information desk and wanted to take more than was available due to the fact that most material was at the much larger Game City fair at this time. I urgently need to restock my business cards to give people at least any contact they could turn to if they have any questions.
An other important contribution was the catalogue for the art exhibition which was part of the conference. It has German and English text, was done with free software only and was the best selling item at the conference book desk. The last page on the inside is dedicated to free software, therefore remembering everyone not only to respect life, but as well to care about software freedom.

Our volunteers at the Game City fair had great creative ideas as well: Since the small no budget booth on free software had to compete with the expensive shiny presentation booths of the biggest corporations in the gaming business we decided to avoid competing concerning high end graphics or polished full featured game experiences. We decided it would be best as well for pointing out the most important virtues of free games to concentrate on independence, adaptability and the possibility to game on older hardware. These proofed to be the right concept since most free software projects never reach enough funding to invest in high end graphics anyway. Our team even came up with ideas to turn our disadvantages to advantages. We didn’t had enough time upfront to thoroughly proofread our new leaflet. Therefore we asked the visitors of our booth to read through it and gave them rewards in form of small chocolate treats for finding any error. This not only was a good test by lots of eyes, but as well gave them a good reason to really read our information texts. Luckily we didn’t miss many typos anyway. An other great idea was to invite people to take photographs in front of our banners and/or with our information material. Photo models got a treat as well. Beside that Horst had an other good idea to promote net neutrality by giving visitors the choice between holding up three different signs with statements on the subject when they got photographed. Only one decided to take a stand against net neutrality. Countless visitors most likely had their first encounter with this subject and made their first ever public display of an opinion.

We can honestly claim this was the most active and successful Autumn for our local Fellowship group ever. This was only possible thanks to our dedicated volunteers. Especially the great booth at the Game City fair was only available because of Horst from spielend programmieren. He has built up a business by educating children how to program. Since he is an advocate for software freedom he does this with free software only. His concept of doing this by using free games has proven to be very intuitive and fun. He took our group under his wing by letting us use his expensive booth for free in the last years at the Game City fair. Following up on his initiative this time we reached a new level of professionalism and target group optimised presence because of our leaflet on free games. Horst as well wrote a long report (German) with many pictures on the event. He as well put the folder on free games on Git hub. (You can find a link to the source files in the referenced article.)

The photo collage (the third picture on the right) was taken from Horsts great report on the Game City event.

Booth on the vegan summer festival in Vienna, 2014

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

From 6th to 9th of June 2014 the Veganmania took place in Vienna. It was the 17th time in this city and was larger and went on for longer than ever before. Like last year, the local FSFE fellowship group organized an information booth there, as different organisations are welcome to take part in the festival. So, besides enjoying lots of vegan food, clothes, books and live music surprisingly many people used the opportunity to find out about the possibilities for independence on their own computers offered by free software.

A real booth marathon

Each day the festival went on from 10am to 10pm. Some of our most active fellows maintained the booth through all four days and could hardly find time for even very short breaks since so many people where eager to ask questions about free software. The demand was so high that sometimes interested people unfortunately lost patience and went away before our Fellows could speak to them. (Next year we should probably coordinate ourselves better so that we have more people running the booth all the time.)

Hundreds of leaflets and contact cards where handed out and incredibly many consultations took place. Therefore the success of this booth was even greater than the already stunningly successful booth from last year. This once more confirms our experience, that using such events as a platform to spread the word about free software and its virtues is highly effective. Especially because we can reach so many people who have been completely unaware of software freedom so far, this booth is an excellent time (and resource) investment.

Changes

Unlike last year, we didn’t provide free distro discs. Instead we handed out leaflets (SVG source file) explaining differences between ten of the most common GNU/Linux distributions, containing links to download pages. This was also a good decision. Not only did we save on preparation time and money compared to last year, but our leaflet provided even more help for people wanting to dive into the universe of free software.

Hits

Most people were especially impressed by the possibility to install a second (more trustworthy) operating system on their hard disc without the need to hand out additional data or to pay some abstract sum of money to any corporation. They responded very well to the idea that they could test a live CD and carry on using their old system unempeded even after installing the new alternative.

Most people feel they can ask more knowledgeable friends if they encounter computer problems when using Windows or OSX, but expect to get stuck with problems if they use alternative, less known software. For this reason, our local project for making free software experts findable via a simple online form on test.freie.it, received a lot of attention and good feedback. Even if we are still in the testing phase, the page works already and can put people at ease who are worried about ending up with unsolvable problems if they start using free software.

Press coverage

Our little information booth even managed to get noticed by national and local media. They didn’t report on it in detail and left out the term “free software”, but the journalists obviously got the most important message: Free software is all about independence on computers. They didn’t even confuse our message by calling it “open source” or “Freeware”, so obviously we did something right:

Document Freedom Day in Vienna 2014

Friday, March 28th, 2014
Our borrowed bike for heavy loadsOur desk in front of the memorial after removing our postersOur booth in direct sun lightIn the afternoon different Fellows joined us for some time

On Wednesday the 26th of March the Viennese Fellowship group of the FSFE celebrated the yearly Document Freedom Day with an information stall in our main shopping street again. We started at 10am and stayed until 7pm. Even if it wasn’t very warm, at least there was no strong wind or rain. Occasionally we even could enjoy direct sunshine. At dusk, people couldn’t easily scan our leaflets anymore in order to decide if they want one or not. We dismantled our stall after it went completely dark.

Beside a super huge package of the official DFD information material provided by the FSFE we spread additional leaflets that our regional group had designed especially for this event. Even if we also used the left over small A6 leaflets from last year, having even more leaflets was quite a good idea since we ran out of this year’s official DFD folders by lunch time.

Instead of discs with copies of GNU/Linux distributions this time we provided a leaflet with basic information about differences between 10 of the most popular free software distributions. It also contains download links. This not only made our preparation less time consuming, but cut the costs for our stall considerably without making our material less useful.

Another positive aspect of not providing distribution discs anymore is the smaller environmental impact of our material. We are not convinced that our discs had much effect on the readiness of people to try out free software, after all, who installs software obtained from strangers on the street? Of much greater value might be some easy to understand information on what distribution people new to free software should choose. At least in Austria most people use broadband Internet connections and own computers with the possibility to download and burn their own installation media. Besides, nowadays many people can not use discs since their devices lack an optical drive.

Spread over the day we were visited from four very friendly police officers. Two of them were quite interested and talked to us about free software and open standards for quite a while and also took some information material with them.

Surprisingly many tourists were interested. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much English material to share with them. Generally, most people instantly got our main argument for open standards and free software. We talked about independence on our own personal computers. We shouldn’t depend on companies when we want to access and share data.

The artist Ulrike Truger created the stone monument against police brutality behind our stall. A friend of hers dropped by and made a big fuss about the fact that we used its plain surface to temporarily stick up our DFD posters. Via mobile, the artist herself demanded that we remove our posters at once. This is very strange since Truger has, more than once, erected huge monuments illegaly without public consent. Why does she think she can permanently occupy public space for her cause with a five ton heavy stone but demand from us that we stay away at all times? Our cause to liberate all of us from hostile power concentrations is not less worthy and we would have removed our posters a few hours later without leaving any trace anyway. I think it is a good thing to have such a monument but the artist shouldn’t consider her causes worthier and more important than all other possible concerns.

Luckily most people where very happy to find us there and we got a lot of vocal support for our work – even after we had removed our posters fom the huge stone. The stall lasted for 9 hours and I thank all supporters for their help and patience. Together we can change the world for the better, no matter how strange some people might behave.

Panel discussion on repression

Saturday, February 15th, 2014
Discussion panelDiscussion panel

Today I visited a panel discussion on repression against civil political activists, mainly against refugees. From 3 to 6pm two lawers, a retired journalist and three activists spoke in the NIG building of the Viennese university about their experiences and how important public opinion/control is in political trials.

Journalists are often under pressure to present what advertising clients or media owners prefer. They are not only dependant on the funding of influential persons or institutions, but in many cases they themselves are even threatened with being put on trial if they dare to investigate or publish the truth about corruption or other abuses of power.

In Turkey there are more journalists in prison than in China or Iraq. Even lawers in Turkey face trial for nothing more than carrying out their regular work if they represent critics of the state. Refugees in Austria on the other hand, often have to cope for many years as applicants for a legal refugee status with only very basic rights and almost no opportunities. They are also under constant theat of being deported. In this situation it’s vital to stay in control of what information is reaching third parties.

The case against 13 animal rights activists in Austria serves as a very good example of how important e-mail encryption can be. In the one year trial activists had to explain the meaning and context of parts of their private online conversations dating back over nearly two decades which had been deliberately taken out of context by the prosecution. Those who didn’t use free software and e-mail encryption already, started to do so after this experience. And even after many years of painfully wasted time and expensive trial days it isn’t over: They are accused of coercing fur selling companies into pulling out of the fur trade by announcing completely legal public awareness campaigns.

As a supporter of free software I instantly assumed this audiance would be perfect for learning about the advantages concerning independency and data protection by using free software. Unfortunately I only heard about this event the evening before. Therefore I couldn’t contact the organisers beforehand and I had only limited information material available. Most of our leaflets have been spread in the past already.

Unfortunately the time schedule with so many people eager to present their perspectives was too tight. Under normal conditions I would have asked related questions in order to let people know about the special virtues of free software for political activists, but this time there was hardly any time for questions.

Our leaflets where available and on display right beside the exit door. So even if I didn’t have the chance to tell people anything, they had the chance to easily pick up what ever leaflets caught their attention.