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.
The RMLL was a really cool & interesting event. The atmosphere rocked, and there were plenty of good & interesting people around :) Sadly enough I could not speak with many of them, and follow even fewer talks, as the RMLL was French, very French. I did not expect this as they announced it as an international event. But I should have guessed it as they used the word “mondial”, instead of “global” ;) Anyway, their friendliness made up for this, really. Very friendly & caring pplz at the event. Definitely go there if you can, even if you only speak Arabic.
Besides ours on LogiLogi ;), there was one especially interesting presentation, it was on Sophie. It is a desktop app, and meant for creating books. They can contain video’s, be scripted, auto-play through timelines, act like presentation-slides and be exported to the web. Interesting, but no web-app of course…
We gave 2 presentations at the RMLL 2008, the first was on Tuesday the 1st and it was about LogiLogi, our plans to split up LogiLogi into separate webservices, and 2 debates that we were going to have during the week via LogiLogi. The first of the debates was about the future of Free Software on the Web 2.0. And the other about LogiLogi itself. Our second presentation was a short introduction to LogiLogi and a report on the results of the debate. The slides can be downloaded here and here – the second, on the Future of Free Software on the web. The video of our presentations will be available in some weeks, and both our presentations were also broadcasted live in entire France via the Freenews TV-channel! They will be there all summer in their program-loop :-)
Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation was also at the conference. I had a chance to quickly discuss our/my ideas on Free Software on Web2.0 with him. As he thinks very differently about them. According to what seems to be his view, one should only use one’s own computer for one’s own “calculations”. Sad. We think the web is not evil, freedom at the Web-community-level is possible, and that it matters. He told us he would be at our presentation to take part in the live debate, but he could not make it in the end because of an interview.
Hope we can discuss this later, at the FKFT in Barcelona, where Stallman and I will meet again. Freedom on the Web should not be ignored. Currently our views are quite far apart, like on this picture.
The LogiLogi discussion platform is still our main project.
The Digital Humanities 2008 conference was the conference to visit! It covered topics ranging from computer linguistics, dialectology, corpora, digital text-editions, and last but not least information- systems for people from the humanities and philosophers. In this last category there were 2 projects presented that we think are are especially interesting; of course besides our own project, LogiLogi :-).
The first was Discovery/Talia. It is a project that comes very close to LogiLogi in terms of what it wants to achieve, but it takes a different approach. It is being developed in 2 stages/environments. The first is a web-platform (in Rails) to be used for multiple sites containing philosophical sources, like the works of Wittgenstein and Hegel. These sites are to be maintained by specialists that function as gatekeepers. The second part is a desktop- application for writing philosophical texts, and for annotating and sharing them. This bit of the project is comparible to LogiLogi in it’s aims. We look forward to it’s development. And we are currently discussing posibillities for cooperation.
The second was PReE, by the Electronical Textual Cultures Lab. Also being developed in Rails, it focuses mainly on making existing texts available, but it also wants to have features like the easy annotation-system that LogiLogi has. Sadly enough PReE is not yet online or available, but we are now also in contact with them.
Our presentation was on saturday, and it went well. We got many good questions and references. The slides of our presentation can be downloaded here. And you can find the tex sources in our repository.
In all it was a great conference, and surely worth the trip to Oulu, Finland. There were quite some cool people around, and after the conference we had an excursion that basically was a long bus-trip on which we had many interesting conversations. By the way, a good thing about the city of Oulu is that they have city-wide free wireless for everyone. Hope it spreads :-)