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NYC LOCAL: Tuesday 16 October 2007 United Nations Meeting on Free Softwa
NYC LOCAL: Tuesday 16 October 2007 United Nations Meeting on Free Software
15 Oct 2007 02:09:18 -0400
what="article on meeting"
comment="perhaps too late to get in, registration required"
recommendation="contact Nathan Eckenrode at email@example.com">
Subject: Linux.com :: Talking FOSS at the UN
Everything Linux and Open Source
Talking FOSS at the UN
October 08, 2007 (9:02:00 PM) - 5 days, 21 hours ago
By: Lisa Hoover
When Nathan Eckenrode goes to the United Nations in New York City next
week to help demonstrate the technology behind open source software, he
doesn't really expect to discover the answer to world peace. If he gets
a little closer, though, he's all right with that.
Last year the United Nations Institute for Training and Research
(UNITAR) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD) held a joint meeting to discuss the feasibility of using free
and open source software (FOSS) as a means to bolster the growth of
technology in developing countries. Delegates were intrigued by the
information presented by such notables as the Free Software
Foundation's Richard Stallman, Intel's Danese Cooper, and IBM's Bob
Sutor, and asked to hear more about the real-world practicality of
In response, event organizers at UNITAR put together a one-day seminar
scheduled for October 16 that will present case studies of successful
FOSS implementations in various environments. Eckenrode is a member of
the Ubuntu New York Local Community Team (NyLoCo), and "self-appointed
community representative" who organizes group get-togethers and, most
recently, a free CD handout in a New York City park. Since he attended
last year's conference as an observer, Canonical, creators of the Linux
distribution Ubuntu, asked him to help line up business people who use
free software in their companies but are not in an IT-related field.
Eckenrode says he feels compelled to encourage the delegates of other
countries to explore free software because he believes in its inherent
value and limitless possibilities. "One of my first reactions after
trying Linux for the first couple months was, 'Wow! this could really
help governments and other large organizations minimize the cost of
setting up their computer systems.' So I leapt on the first possible
opportunity to advocate this shift," he says. "I believe that an
organization that is dedicated to international cooperation, social
progress, and human rights issues should find that using FOSS will be a
great benefit to the entire organization in terms which are not merely
Eckenrode has been working steadily to line up other participants for
the conference. "My participation [in past events] has been as an
observer and demonstrator of the technology, while making several
comments from the floor. After [the last] conference, there was
considerable feedback from the audience that indicated 'that a
subsequent seminar could be enhanced by appreciating the wisdom of
firms who have ventured into using FOSS for non-technological activity,
such as running their office or a business.'
"Jane Silber of Canonical contacted [NyLoCo] asking for assistance in
locating some firms whose primary business is not IT-related and that
have shifted away from using proprietary solutions in the New York
area, and who would be willing to share that experience with this
conference. As I have been present for other conferences at the UN, I
volunteered for the job."
Eckenrode encourages anyone willing to share information at the UN
event about how they use open source software in their business to
Typically, UN meetings are closed to everyone except for UN member
state delegations and representatives of registered organizations. This
event is open to the public, but Amy Weesner, UNITAR's programme
coordinator, says advance registration is required and space is
limited. "We are expecting around 50-75 people and have requested a
small room to encourage more discussion and interaction among
participants and speakers." A link to a live webcast of the event will
be provided the day of the seminar, and a post-event archive of the
broadcast will be available for download.
Weesner says that despite the fact that speakers like Stallman and
Cooper were well-received last year, "This year [the delegates]
expressed a wish to hear more from real-world users instead of the
technologists and advocates. This year's agenda does not include open
source software developers, apart from Chris DiBona, who will be
representing the Google case." Other unconfirmed guest speakers include
Virgin America, SchoolNet Namibia, and Banco do Brasil.
Weesner credits the success of past seminars with fostering the
continuing discussion about bringing FOSS into developing countries.
"One of the most positive impacts from last year's meeting was its
ability to get people's attention and spark open debate. And while in
many ways it is difficult to gauge the real impacts of
awareness-building events, we feel that requests for follow-up coupled
with specific suggestions for presentations by real-world users means
that our audience is paying attention."
"Paying attention" is something that Eckenrode hopes will continue in
the long term. "I am not really certain how many other people out there
are sympathetic to the causes of both FOSS and the UN," he says, "but I
would like for more people to attempt to think about it. To me it seems
obvious that the world's largest organization dedicated to
international coordination need not be dependent upon a single
commercial enterprise in any regard -- but I could have it all wrong."
Read in the original layout at: http://www.linux.com/feature/119609
Distributed poC TINC:
Jay Sulzberger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Corresponding Secretary LXNY
LXNY is New York's Free Computing Organization.
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