Re: Workshop proposal: Ethical Public Domain 2009
I've got an idea for the Communia Workshop 2009.
Promoting the ACTUAL use of FOSS
We know that FOSS (Free Open Source Software) offers the 'POTENTIAL' to be re-used by other developers or just used unmodified by users. But do people 'ACTUALLY' use FOSS to the maximum possible extent?
At the Communia Workshop, you could host a debate or brainstorming session on the question...
"How do we get people to ACTUALLY use/re-use FOSS to the maximum extent?".
This comes down to 1) Problems and 2) Opportunities.
Problems: List the barriers to using FOSS, then think of solutions or partial-solutions to remove those barriers.
Opportunities: What are the best ways to get people to take advantage of FOSS?
I see loads of great, free programs that very few people use, for all sorts of reasons.
They don't know about FOSS in general.
They didn't know there were any programs to do a particular thing, such as 'stitch some photos together into a 360 degree panorama'.
They couldn't find a program to do a particular thing.
They couldn't narrow down a search to the right features, operating system, etc.
The program is only provided as source-code, and an ordinary user just wants a pre-built executable.
There isn't a pre-built executable for their operating system or device.
The documentation isn't very good.
The project-website home-page doesn't tell people what the project or program is ("Welcome to the XYZ program website, a program to do..."), without digging down into sub-pages. The website is for the developers 'clique' and assumes they all know what the program does. Many website home-pages just have a home-page that says "XYZ version 2.52 has been released", without telling new users what the program does.
It hasn't been localised into my language.
The Communia discussion can discuss the problem/opportunity and put forward solutions, so I shouldn't try to solve it myself. But, just to give you a concrete example of what I'm talking about...
One problem is that FOSS programs are scattered all over the internet on seperate project sites (although Sourceforge.net has a lot of them).
A solution or partial-solution would be to have a 'Standard Software Release Method'.
'Standardisation' has brought great benefits to many industries and organisations. For example, when standard dimensions for Nuts and Bolts made them into interchangeable parts, so you could mix and match items from different manufacturers. Standardising the FOSS Software Release Process could bring great benefits too.
Each FOSS program would have a standard identifying number, very much like the ISBN Number for books. When a program is released, certain standardised data would be recorded in a FOSS Database (centralised on a website or distributed and synchronised). Program name, author, version, etc.
No doubt, the amount and type of information required for FOSS programs would change over time, so the 'Standard Software Release Method' could itself be 'versioned', starting at Version 1.0.
When a particular FOSS program is released, the database website forms can guide the project-team through the data-entry process, to make sure they record all the details, according to the latest version of the 'Standard Software Release Method'.
Name of program
Technologies used (Bluetooth, USB, IrDA, touch-screen, etc).
List of source files
URL of project-website
Interface languages (english, french, etc)
Each release of a program would also record the version-number of the 'Standard Software Release Method' under which the software was released, such as 1.0. So later, when the 'Standard Software Release Method' has risen to version 1.1, 1.2, etc, and more fields have been added to the required information for each program-release, people can see that certain information is missing from the database for an older FOSS program, because it was released using version 1.0 of the 'Standard Software Release Method'.
A centralised database of FOSS information (maybe storing the files too as a software repository) should help a lot, to aid people in finding and using FOSS as a user or re-using source-code as a developer.
Users of the database would be given a lot of different ways to filter and search the information (filters, search by fields, tagging, etc).
It would be useful to have both pull and push methods of knowing about FOSS programs. Pull is covered by the website interface, push could be emails for new releases, events sent to other websites, etc.
This is just an example. Standardisation of any process can bring a lot of advantages, but it also comes with a burden of extra work for the FOSS developers. Initially, data entry may be quite manual for each software release, but I'm sure a lot of the software-release data-recording process can be automated or semi-automated quite quickly. For example, automatically getting some information from the version info block embedded in the executable, or using the source-code file-extension .cpp to ask 'Was this written in C++?' or auto-detecting the language of the help-file (english, etc).
It would be useful to define reporting-mechanisms for users of a FOSS program to report missing/incorrect information.
Another topic might be "How do we make it easier for ordinary users to adapt FOSS to their own circumstances?". It takes a lot of technical knowledge to set up a build-environment and re-build a program from source. However, 'customisation' may be easier than major adaptation.
Are there any easy ways to let ordinary users add/change/remove features of a program, customise menus, localise menus and help files into other languages, etc? For example, should every FOSS program have to state in it's release-information what features can be customised and suggest a tool to do it.
If each type of customisation had a standard name or identifier, then the author could just link to a website with an up-to-date list of tools to do that type of customisation. For example, 'resource editor' tools to change the menu-items in an executable program .exe file, without having to re-compile it.
I hope some organisations might pay you to host some discussions or brainstorming sessions on these questions and ideas. I think you're more likely to find work in the early 'thinking' part of it, than in the implementation side, but your background in databases would be useful for the discussions.
--- In email@example.com, Andrius Kulikauskas <ms@...> wrote:
> Hi, I'm writing proposals and engaging clients to find work for me and all at Minciu Sodas. Please let me know of any ideas or leads you might have for our global teams!
> I submitted my proposal below to host another COMMUNIA workshop in Vilnius, Lithuania in October 2009. I decided just before the deadline, so I kept it very similar. But instead of critiquing "questionable practices", this time we'll debate policy proposals that might invigorate the Public Domain.
> If we win, then this will be a chance to meet again in Vilnius! and some work for our team.
> Thank you to Tomas Cepaitis, Irena Buinickaite and Zenonas Anusauskas for rapid response on this proposal.
> Andrius Kulikauskas, Minciu Sodas, http://www.ms.lt, ms@...
> 1. Title of the Conference;
> "Ethical Public Domain 2009: Debate of Policy Proposals"
> 2. Abstract of the Conference (1/2 page): topic to be addressed, how, etc.;
> Friday, October 2, 2009, in Vilnius, Lithuania, we will organize 10 brisk and friendly debates of policy changes that might invigorate the Public Domain. We encourage positive, fresh, new approaches and reach out with them to all whose rights and interests are affected by the Public Domain and look for shared values and potential solutions.
> Each advocate of a policy change will formulate it in one sentence and support it with a one-page position paper. We will assign an organizer for their debate who will find an opponent to write and present a one-page critique. In Vilnius, each side will have 5 minutes to present their view, followed by 10 minutes of audience discussion and 5 minutes of mediation. We will video the debates, broadcast and archive them on the Internet and provide written transcripts. We will include remote participants by video bridge. All material generated at this workshop will be in the Public Domain (except for any supporting documents that might be referenced).
> Our debates in 2008 debated questionable practices that diminish the Public Domain, including the merits of copyright-free vs. copyleft; the copyrighting of classic works; the locking away of cultural heritage; extending the terms of protection for related rights; orphaned works; access in the developing world to textbooks, research and information about historical injustices; youth input; and purchase and plagiarism of student works.
> Our debates in 2009 will consider policy changes that might invigorate the Public Domain. We will encourage each COMMUNIA working group to help organize one or two debates. We will focus on issues for whom we might find advocates on either side and also stakeholders who can testify how they are affected. We will reach out to include opposing and alternate points of view from those who shape thinking in goverment, corporations and civil society.
> 3. Explanation of why the topic is relevant and timely for the COMMUNIA Project, also taking in consideration the workshops/conferences held so far (topics not yet covered will be strongly favored);
> The London workshop made clear that COMMUNIA is making progress towards developing specific policy proposals. We are learning how to define the Public Domain positively, rather than negatively. The Public Domain is more than a technical legal issue and might be grounded in an ethics of human rights and a culture of human practice. Positive developments worldwide include changes in terms of service by Google, requests for user input by Facebook, and Wikipedia's migration from the GNU Free Documentation License to a Creative Commons license.
> Our debates in Vilnius in 2008 contributed to discussion within COMMUNIA. We now have practice with this format and might reach out to engage others, both supporters and opponents, and discover who might care about COMMUNIA's policy proposals and why. These debates can help identify key themes for a vibrant Public Domain and how to frame them effectively. We can discover strategic partners. We have the opportunity to consider the broadest consequences of a new approach.
> 4. Policy recommendations: explain how the workshop plans to produce policy recommendations, what kind, by whom, and how this output will relate to the ongoing COMMUNIA policy activities.
> Our workshop will help us find and build consensus as we start to focus on specific policy recommendations. Each debate will center on a policy recommendation expressed in a single sentence. We will encourage each COMMUNIA working group to organize a debate that will help clarify the merits of the policy recommendation. After each debate we will ask the audience to vote as to whether they are:
> * completely in favor
> * in favor, with reservations
> * opposed, with reservations
> * completely opposed
> Working groups will meet on Thursday, the day before the debates, and there will also be general discussion by COMMUNIA on Friday following all of the debates.
> 5. Description of the workshop venue, including description of the WGs Meetings venue (if different; at least 1/2 day, after or before the workshop regular schedule);
> We're waiting to hear from the Vilnius City Hall if we might use their main hall on Friday, October 2. The hall is well equipped, seats more than 100 people, is free-of-charge and quite likely available. Alternatively, the Academy of Sciences' hall is now open after renovations. The Library of the Academy of Sciences also has offered us their hall in the past.
> We should be able to organize the working group meetings all day Thursday, October 1, at Meno Galera, an art gallery of the UMI art colony in the Republic of Uzupis which has two nice rooms, and there is also space available in the nearby cafe, Uzupio Kavine. We would make these spaces available on Saturday as well, as might be needed for Creative Commons or other meetings, but also for a Public Domain Art and Fashion show on Saturday, October 3. This space is arguably the "hippest" in all of Lithuania! or at least, the Republic of Uzupis.
> 6. Expected attendance (e.g., based on previous experiences in the same city by the organizers);
> In 2008, we had more than 50 participants for the debates, and almost 100 participants for the dinner at the Neringa Restaurant. This year, we have much more time to prepare and we can focus on promoting the workship and including more people. We expect at least 100 participants for the debates and 200 or more for all events including the Public Domain Art and Fashion Show. Lithuania is experiencing a swell of civil society activity with several new movements and we also may link with Lithuania's cultural program as a European cultural capital.
> 7. Names and short bios of the members of organizing team; please emphasize previous direct experiences organizing major workshops/conferences. You must indicate an ADMINISTRATIVE REFERENCE PERSON and a TECHNICAL PROGRAM REFERENCE PERSON.
> Andrius Kulikauskas is the lead organizer for this event and the TECHNICAL PROGRAM REFERENCE PERSON. He is an accomplished organizer as the leader of the Minciu Sodas laboratory with 150
> active participants. He organized the first Ethical Public Domain workshop in 2008, a series of 12 video bridges for Global Utopias in the summer of 2007, and BarCamp Lithuania in 2006.
> Tomas Cepaitis is the ADMINISTRATIVE REFERENCE PERSON. He is the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Uzupis with 200 ambassadors around the world.
> Irena Buinickaite works as an assistant in Lithuania's parliament. She will work to include Lithuanian government officials and she is also organizing the site for the debates.
> Zenonas Anusauskas is an experienced organizer of events, seminars and lectures. He is also a video specialist and will record the event, make it available over the Internet and include remote participants by video bridge (we now have a Procom Strasser technology by which we can include participants from several locations at once). He assisted with the Global Utopias video bridges.
> Andrius, Tomas, Irena and Zenonas all worked together to organize the first Ethical Public Domain workshop in 2008.
> 8. Proposed budget, with a break-down of the main costs (max 10.000 euro as far as COMMUNIA is concerned);
> 500 EUR - Sites
> 1000 EUR - Lunch and refreshments
> 1500 EUR - Dinner
> 2000 EUR - Video bridge, video recording, video streaming, video archiving and video production.
> 2500 EUR = 10 x 250 EUR for debate organizers who reach out to include opponents, help both sides prepare for the debates, write up and disseminate the transcripts.
> 2500 EUR = Organizing workshop and website and preparing content for publication.
> 9. Proposed Workshop program: rough organization of the 1-2 days (i.e., plenaries topics, session topics, keynote speakers, etc.);
> Thursday, October 1
> Working groups meet in Uzupis (Meno Galera, Uzupio Kavine) throughout the day.
> Friday, October 2
> * 9:00 am to 10:00 am: Introductions
> * 10:00 am to 3:00 pm: Debates
> Each debate will be a half-hour session:
> * 5 minute proposal of policy change
> * 5 minute critique
> * 10 minutes of contributions from the audience
> * 5 minute mediation
> Lunch and snacks will be available throughout the day
> 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm: Discussion
> 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm: Dinner and special program!
> Saturday, October 3
> related events as desired in Uzupis
> and the Public Domain Art and Fashion Show
> 10. A brief explanation of how the required attendance (50 persons) and submission levels (8 papers) will be attained;
> There will be 10 debate organizers, one for each debate, and they will help make sure that for each debate there are one-page position papers from at least one proponent and opponent, as well as transcripts of the debates. They will also help attract our audience in Lithuania and from Europe and the world.
> We will make further use of the Ning websites and ProWiki wiki which we have already set up at http://www.ethicalpublicdomain.org
> 11. Any another information that might strengthen/illustrate the proposal, e.g., how well the city is connected with the rest of Europe, potential synergies with other events immediately before/after in the same city/region, particularly attractive accommodations, etc.
> AirBaltic offers inexpensive direct air fares to Vilnius from Rome, Barcelona, Brussels, London, Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Dublin, Helsinki and more.
> In 2009, Vilnius is a European cultural capital and Lithuania is celebrating 1,000 years of recorded history. We will engage civil society activists and government officials in Lithuania before the event and encourage them to participate and make contacts. Vilnius is a lovely city with one of the largest intact old towns in Europe.
> Andrius Kulikauskas
> Minciu Sodas
> +370 699 30003
> Vilnius, Lithuania