Saturday, September 16, 2006

Thoughts on Software Freedom Day

If you thought Foss was one of the sons on "Bonanza", you've obviously never seen a celebration of
Software Freedom Day, a day devoted to promoting the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Each year dozens of schools, clubs, and other "grass-roots" groups use the opportunity to set up booths in malls, campuses, or other public places to spread the word about FOSS. This year, the day was celebrated today.

[Note from Monday: Check out the site-- pictures from this year's activities from around the world are already being posted.]

I started thinking about how libraries now have a year to think up ways to promote the next one. Linking up with local FOSS supporters to host a both is one way, of course. But two other possibilities come to mind:

One of SFD's sponsors is The Open CD, a wonderful collection of free software
made to be freely distributed.
The programs run in Windows and cover the most common tasks such as word processing, presentations, e-mail, web browsing, web design, and image manipulation. The Open CD team only includes software they consider appropriate for a wide audience, and each program is carefully tested for stability. These CDs can be burned for simply the cost of the blank disc and would make a perfect promotional item for a computer literacy-related library event or as a prize for a Summer Reading Program.

Finally, I thought of the Freedom Toaster, a freestanding kiosk designed to burn discs of free software for people or areas without broadband Internet access where downloading over the 'net would be problematic. The specs are posted online, and the machine can look as nice as you want or can afford. The handsome one pictured here obviously represents an investment in time and materials, but would make quite a statement of support both for free software and towards narrowing the digital divide.

I think these are all as good a promotional opportunity for libraries as National Library Week.

No comments: