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NYC LOCAL: Tuesday 16 October 2007 United Nations Meeting on Free Softwa

From: secretary
Subject: NYC LOCAL: Tuesday 16 October 2007 United Nations Meeting on Free Software
Date: 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">

 Subject: :: 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
    contact him.

    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:


 Distributed poC TINC:

 Jay Sulzberger <>
 Corresponding Secretary LXNY
 LXNY is New York's Free Computing Organization.

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