Empowering the next generation of FLOSS developers
Based on University intake, the numbers of school children coming into software development is dwindling. I propose the Free/Libre/Open Source community should reach out to schools, and work with school children to develop their skills so that they are enthusiastic and technically capable of becoming involved in Free/Libre/Open Source Software and Hardware (FLOSS/H) development. Let's aim at creating a significant extra-curricula FLOSS/H development 'clubs' across UK schools. I talk about some of my experiences. I would like part of the community to become actively involved in leading and mentoring school FLOSS/H clubs. I propose we start with existing FLOSS technology and develop an action plan which will have tangible results this year. The session will aim to begin the process of developing an Action Plan
I think all of us with a commitment to open technology want to empower users but it's not always as easy as it sounds - many Desktop users positively don't seem to want to be empowered! Or at least not necessarily in the way we think they should. It can be all too easy to project a sense of what feels empowering to us - and also to expect people to run before they can walk. Borrowing from methodologies such as participative design and action research, We work with refugee and migrant networks, women's groups and non-profit networks to identify what's needed in each specific context and where FOSS can fill a real need as perceived by the end users - the 'killer app', service or feature will be different each time when addressing different challenges and goals. Many of the answers seem counter-intuitive to open source and social enterprise cultures. For most of the networks and groups we work with, poverty alleviation and digital inclusion are urgent, pressing needs. People have few resources - so creative over-enthusiasm needs to be avoided. The answer in this context is very rarely to build something new. It's a matter of putting together and customising what's out there and, crucially, finding ways to ensure that non-technical people can take care of the technology themselves sustainably. At the other end of the equation we work to open channels between non-technical end-users, techies and developers.
Mozilla - more than just Firefox
The mission of the Mozilla Foundation is not "build a kick-ass browser", it is to "promotes openness, innovation and participation on the Internet". Building Firefox is an important part of that, and it's how we saw off the first big threat to the open web, but it's only a part. Come and hear about what else we are doing to make sure the web is still open, participatory and generative in 50 years time, and how you can support us in doing it.
21st May 2011