Posted on April 30, 2008 in CC, copyright, FOSS, IP, linuxfest NW 2008 by Brian RoweComments Off

Feel free to use or remix them.

Posted on April 23, 2008 in FOSS, IP by Sarah DaviesView Comments

“You can touch my boobs,” she said to all of us in the hallway. “It’s no big deal.”

Livejournal is in a rage today over this post and this clarification.

Apparently there was a mixed-gender group of people at ConFusion and then later PenguinCon who put forth the idea that people who support open content and open software might be amenable to consensual open sexuality, specifically getting felt up.

As I have two X chromosomes and I’m attending LinuxFest Northwest this weekend, I feel obliged to comment.

There is definitely a lack of diversity within the American open source community, particularly gender diversity. There is certainly awkwardness and avoidance around the topic of sexuality. I don’t think either of those things are healthy. Humanity is diverse and sexual. The open source community would do well to accept this fact and attempt to rectify some of it’s shortcomings.

I think that many women agree with open source principles, if only because women tend to be more liberal and idealistic than men. And what is open source if not liberal and idealistic? Women do not, however, feel (generally) that their time is best spent debugging code for hours on end. What the open source community has failed to emphasize is the plethora of non-coding work that needs to be done. We need graphic designers, god help us. We need people to manage projects, to come up with new features, to do usability testing.

I have known very few other women who code. I have known many women, however, who enjoy spending their volunteer time building community tools. We, as the open source community, must reach out to these women and invite them into our projects and our conventions.

As far as sexuality is concerned, I think this problem is not specific to the open source community. This is a problem with America in general. We focus on sexuality as the pinnacle of self-worth, and the bottomless pit of sin. The open source community is built of smart people, and my hope is that they will outpace the general public in ridding themselves of these perceptions, but I think diversity of gender and sexual orientation must be a precursor to that exorcism.

Posted on October 9, 2007 in FOSS, NOSI, nptech by Sarah DaviesView Comments

Just read the new Open Source Primer from Nonprofit Open Source Initiative written by Michelle Murrain. The primer does an incredibly thorough and fair job of weighing the economic, temporal, and philosophical benefits of proprietary and open source software. It also documents case studies from front runners in open source software development and small nonprofits who are just starting to use Linux. My favorite passage:

Community ownership of software is also in itself consonant with the missions of many nonprofit organizations, whose role is in strengthening community. By using tools that are owned by everyone, you know that you aren’t building your work in a way that depends on or benefits any one corporation or institution, but building your work in a way that benefits everyone.

This is a well written and well researched opus that will benefit the nonprofit community hugely in the years to come. Bravo!

Cross-posted to my personal blog – Civil Disobedient