FSFE Fellowship Vienna

Reports from the fellowship group in Vienna

Document Freedom Day in Vienna 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.

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