Sunday, September 19, 2010

Software Freedom Day 2010

I spent yesterday at Software Freedom Day(SFD) Wellington. SFD is technically based on the four freedoms that the GNU people have, which I somewhat disagree with as I favour the less precriptive MIT style licences, but that's a discussion that I'll avoid for now. Regardless of what philosophical underpinnings are technically behind the event, it's a great day and people talked about a number of cool or inspiring things.

The highlight for me was hearing about the use of Moodle and Mahara in schools. I really care about education and seeing open source tools being leveraged in schools, where they can assist in learning, customising features and cutting costs, is really great.

Talking of open source in education, there's a big empty spot for open source in the student management system area of education that isn't being covered by anyone at the moment apparently. The teachers I know all seem to be permanently complaining about whatever tools they're currently using for this, so it's probably something that needs looking at. Have to know more about what's required though but could make an interesting side project if I get round to it (People should remind me that I already have too many side projects).

Also on the education front we had a bit of a discussion of the issue of getting more kids(particularly girls) into tech at an early age. Which reminded me to check the progress of hackety hack the open source Ruby program that's working towards helping teach kids to code, originated by Why the lucky stiff. Hackety Hack looks like it's going quite well so I'll take a shot at stick my little cousin in front of it next time I see him.

The talks on Freebase and Opencog lead into a great discussion of various ways of interacting with data and extracting meaning from the web. Freebase is great for providing a decent amount of metadata in a lot of areas. While Opencog either as a whole or as some of its subprojects seems to have a lot of potential for really pulling meaning out of the masses of data that people simply don't have time to add metadata to appropriately. Also, AGI is just really fucking cool.

I also quickly pitched Railscamp and the idea of Camp during the lightning talks, so hopefully that'll get some interest.

Anyway, Software Freedom Day happens every year and is worth going to even if you aren't a GNU loony.

No comments: