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And the FKFT was a great experience too. I’m typing this some days after the conference while waiting during the night at the Airport for my early-morning flight to Amsterdam. A few days after the fact because not just the conference was great: Barcelona also is; I love this city. It’s one of the best of Europe: grandiose architecture; not just Gaudi, but everywhere, public culture, statutes, museums, street-music, a fast and cheap metro sytem, good food & bars, and did I mention the weather ? Hmoah! :)

Anyway, enough about urban paradise: the Free Knowledge, Free Technology conference was organized by the Free Knowledge Institute: the creators of the SELF-platform: a site for collaboratively creating teaching-materials. And this platform was a topic many interesting presentations were on: especially their approach to diffs, and the Gnowledge-system that runs their concept-map are worth a look (had good conversations with both their creators).

Besides our own, which went well again :) (slides are here, sources in svn), another interesting presentation was by the Vibal Foundation (ran by a publishing-house) from the Phillipines. They run a bunch of interesting projects, like a Wikipedia-like site with more relaxed rules, and do this in the spirit of their local needs and circumstances, like being a formerly oral culture. Also the talks by Stephen Downes and Anne Østergaard were interesting.

And last but not least there was a speech of Richard Stallman again, at the beginning of the conference, on the first day. During the question-round he was ehm; quite harsh and sometimes even hostile (must admit that some in the audience were a bit so too). But afterwards we did get a chance to talk a bit: what it comes down to is that while Stallman does see possibilities for freedom in Web-/ Software-as-a-service-communities, he believes this freedom to be a lesser, and thus not a good (or no) freedom to strive for. In this sense he still thinks one should not rely on another’s machine to “do calculations with ones data”, with which, I think we disagree on 2 points:

  • First of all this “lesser freedom of the web” is not so much less. As we proposed it: all code of the web-app under the Affero GPL, all content under a CC-By-Sa license, and rights for the user-community over the running application. Freedom on these 3 planes allows the community to determine it’s course, and to leave and start anew (exodus/fork) in case this fails or there is no agreement possible. Pretty close to the rights of citizens in good societies I would say.
  • Secondly the web is good and useful, and can do things desktop pc’s can’t do. For example be accessed on any device and machine, anywhere, give users ease of not having to install and update the software, model social networks that can be collaboratively extended, and allow for all kinds of rating, tagging and sharing. In short the web is not evil, the web is just social, and when the serf-like conditions that many Web2.0 app-users are under now (they’re even being sold wit the app, as serfs were sold with the land in historic times) are replaced by social freedoms, the web will be a better place.

In short: social software requires social freedoms. Discuss it with us on LogiLogi.