I just got back from FSCONS in Gothenburg feeling even more inspired than I have felt the previous years of attending. The organizers, The Society for Free Culture and Software, delivered a conference which in my opinion is perhaps one of the most important places for discussing the future, aim and mission of the free society movements.
For the uninvited FSCONS, or Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit, is a yearly conference in Gothenburg, Sweden that aims to “provide a meeting place where subjects covering society, culture and technology can be discussed and brought to life in peer discussions, without being confined to each particular subject area”. This year they introduced a manifesto they invited people to help outline before and during the conference.
The manifesto outlines the core principles of the conference. Not only on what it aims to achieve and deliver, but it also defines in a much broader sense what a free and open society's most important trademarks are, what the key ideas the movement share, and how we can help eachother getting there.
One of the keynote speakers at the conference was Christina Haralanova, a feminist and free software activist, who spoke on how the hacker movement along with other activist movements have overlapping interests in the search for social justice. I suspect the full video is already available somewhere on the web (I haven't had time to look), but she articulated a few things which I believe is at the core of our mission and which indeed should be discussed at much greater length in the future:
The free software movement is fundamentally an ethically-driven, politically-motivated movement fighting for social change. So far this movement has been about providing tools to be able to use your computer freely, without imposing restrictions on users. This provides the basis for creating services; programs, applications, initatives to drive other kinds of social movements. For instance, the free society movement would be inconceivable if it hadn't been for free software and the foundation that this movement has laid over the past thirty-odd years.
Where to go from here, and how we mustn't loose sight of what our aim is, are important aspects to keep in mind. How can we convince more people about the importance of freeing the infrastructure of our society's technology? What strategies should we use to broaden our appeal and widen our inclusion of people to the movement?
Of course I don't have the answer to these questions. But I really do feel that FSCONS and the theme of the programme this year, as well as all the interesting people and conversations in between the talks, might bring us a step closer to envisioning a new strategy for free software.