Last weekend Matthias (Fellowship Co-ordinator) and I joined other FSFE fellows and flew to Gothenburg for FSCONS (Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit). We arrived on Friday afternoon and went straight to the venue at Gothenburg IT University.
FSFE hosted a track this year called Divide and Reconquer, which focussed on the problem of the trend towards centralised non-free Internet services, and possible solutions.
All of our five talks went well, each generating extensive discussion in the question and answer sessions. I was too busy hosting the talks and fielding questions to photograph each talk, but here are a few that I managed to snap.
As it turned out, I was responsible for hosting all talks in our conference room, for both days. Matthias helped out and hosted two out of fourteen. This gave me a chance to try my salesmanship at our booth, which was located on the fourth floor.
As I had hoped, the conference provided a unique forum for debate and discussion. Our talk “Socially responsible social networks” was particularly intense. Whilst Michael Chisari from Applseed Project discussed possibilities for implementing browser level encryption in his software, I was pleased to be able to introduce Werner Koch; founder and lead developer of GNU Privacy Guard (GPG). Werner stood up and commented on the merits of using GPG with appleseed.
Jon Philips from Status.net was also present in the front row and answered some questions relating to privacy and standards of the emerging Free Software social networking ecosphere. Two hours after this talk ended, I noticed that heated discussion continued in a group of about 15 outside the room where it had taken place.
Another highlight for me was witnessing Michael Christen demonstrating the seemingly endless features of YaCy, the complete Free Software search engine. I was literally on the edge of my seat, barely able to believe my eyes, as Michael demonstraed YaCy’s capabilities and optimisations. At one point a member of the audience asked “this is kind of a strange idea, but would it eventually be possible for me to use YaCy to replace grep and use it to search my desktop?”. Michael silently turned around, and in ten seconds had demonstrated how this functionality was already alive and well within the latest stable release. Audience enthusiasm was clear from the first question of the Q&A: “why isn’t this in the Debian repositories already?!”.
I received new, very positive, feedback on the upcoming replacement fsfe.org website design, and discovered FSFE’s Google Adwords account with the aid of Finnish Fellowship Coordinator Otto Kekäläinen.
Many old friends were present at the conference, and the numerous social events provided opportunity to update each other on subjects from artificial intelligence, to reverse proxies, to Swedish leftist politics, to new UK hackerspaces. On Sunday night several of us ended up in Gothenburg’s unique GNU/Linux shop and cafe Gnutiken, where we stayed until the early hours, benefiting from the company of some undrinkable Swedish liqueur.
After stopping for Swedish specialities at a supermarket in Nordstan, we headed home on a flight to Berlin. I took this as we approached Central Station for the last time.