Software Freedom Day

Many countries have celebrations on the official day of their freedom from some colonial oppressor or home-grown tyranny, as in the American and French Revolutions, respectively. We in Free Software like to celebrate every year even though our Revolution is far from complete. This year’s celebration were mostly on Saturday 17 Sept. 2011, although there were events before and after.

If you are involved with One Laptop Per Child or Sugar Labs, I don’t need to explain the concept of Software Freedom to you. We wouldn’t exist without it. There would, in particular, be no hope of getting commercial education software localized into more than 100 languages, as we are doing, nor would it be possible to provide the collaboration features of the XO and Sugar. Among many other things. The fact that the software would cost more than the XO is a side issue.

I don’t have anything like the space needed to review the events that were planned by the various SFD 2011 Teams all over the world. I will just mention that I am particularly pleased to see Curitiba, Brazil, on the list. (Pronounced koo-ree-chee-ba, very approximately).

Curitiba is best known around the world for its public bus system, where you pay to get on the platform, and then most of the side of the bus lifts up to let people on and off. No waiting in line for people to find the correct change. But that is only one small part of the bus system, and the bus system is only one small part of Curitiba’s integrated way of dealing with urban issues. For example, the city cleared the slums on the river bottom at a profit, by creating a virtuous circle of benefits for rich and poor alike, as explained in the documentary A Convenient Truth. But that is a topic for another day.

OLPC has a connection to Curitiba through David Cavallo of the Future of Learning Group at MIT. He successfully challenged Brazilian schoolchildren to create their own equivalent of the Dance Dance Revolution game before there ever was an OLPC XO.

This is what Software Freedom Day is really about. When we get the chance to teach a billion children that they can do things themselves, and not have to wait for a government or corporation to do it, watch out, world!


About mokurai

Generalist; End poverty at a profit for all
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