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Report Back: Debian Day

Submitted by alycia on Sun, 08/08/2010 - 14:44

Debian Day was great.

I heard snippets of Biella Coleman and Hans-Christoph Steiner's introduction to the day that morning as I sipped my coffee outside the auditorium. I liked Biella's use of humor and Hans' presentation in which he urged participatory software structures (as opposed to a dichotomy between producers and consumers). I'm looking forward to seeing the recordings up on the DebConf10 site.

Our panel for Pedagogical Freedom was diverse, but I felt proud of what I was able to get across in 5 minutes. After being told at Immersion that I had overused the word "um" in my presentations to the point of utter distraction, I was told I didn't say it at all! Success. I talked a bit about alliances that should be inherent between librarians and Debian/FLOSS folks (we're all about free access and free information, right?). I found the audience to be very supportive, excited and intrigued about our possibilities moving forward, which is all you can ever ask for!

In the afternoon, I attended the Free Software Foundation's Campaigns for Freedom presentation. I've appreciated a lot of the work done by the FSF and have found it really useful for our Readers Bill of Rights for Digital Books work, and I found this talk really inspirational. One thing I didn't realize was how performative FSF is with some of its campaigns (which is really nice). I wish I had a lot of funding to give the FSF, but there are also ways to volunteer.

I attended Debian for Shy People, which was too far into Debian worlds for me to really feel like I was in the right place for, but it was definitely an interesting conversation. I also helped offset the tremendous amounts of men in the room, and was happy that they policed themselves during a point of gross over-generalization about gender. Asheesh was great at bringing up difficult questions and topics:

  • When you have an embarrassing question to ask, who do you talk to?" (lots of fodder for thinking about libraries here)
  • "I do better with help.
  • "Communicate--it can't make things any worse!"
  • How do you feel when you raise your hand and you are not called on?
  • "If you really care about something, you may not want to talk about it"

I also really liked the outline of the time we spent together; there was a playful feel to the session: "15 minutes: Asheesh blathers. 30 mins: open discussion. 10 mins: actions to take."

The last session of the day I attended was a talk by Councilmember Gail Brewer, who is doing some great work on open government with the Broadband Advisory Committee and the Committee on Technology in Government. It was nice to hear from someone who gets it, and who sees the reality of the digital divide, who calls for better access to technology and libraries. dkg even got to urge her not to embed information into popular social networking sites!

I'm glad that the Debian community decided to come to NYC this year so that I could take part (in a small way) in this movement that helps to liberate and free information and its systems!

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