Day 3: /etc/init.d/freed.in2008 restart

Gora introduces Niyam Bhushan who looks incredibly healthy, fit and unlike his normal drunk-on-knowledge self. Lo it is Dr Nagarjuna who is replacing Niyam (who is sick and not feeling up to a talk) to talk about SELF project. His talk touches upon the by now familiar domains of knowledge, openness and enconding of content so as to make it available to the widest possible segment. In between he also shares his experience with design elements that go into the making of a successful knowledge portal by taking us through the notes Niyam has put up during his involvement with the SELF Project.

Quote of the morning belongs to Raj Mathur – Andrew, I love you. Can I bum a cigarette off you ?

Venky (Venkatesh Hariharan) is up next talking about the topic of Open Standards and how they are important for us. Taking the real situation of OOXML, Venky takes us through the lessons learned and how future standards war, especially the ones where proprietary standards are thrust upon us could turn out to be. For those who are not familiar with the why and how of “Open Standards” he provides a quick primer into the much more interesting aspects of the Great Game.

Aanjhan brings up the most eagerly awaited talk of the day – Software for Hardware. Aanjhan has been doing some heavy lifting by packaging a significant number of software packages related to Electronic Labs / simulators etc for Debian – way to go tuxmaniac. He also had a number of good things to say about the Fedora Electronics Lab spin – so, Chitlesh you’ve got a supporter here. After the interesting talk and even more eye catching demos, Aanjhan ended with a call to help in propagating the existence of these packages. The current curricula in various academic institutions prohibit (both explicitly and implicitly) the usage and adoption of these fine examples of free software. With growing awareness one hopes that a larger segment of students would be contributing to them besides using them for their coursework.

Gora: We regret to inform you that lunch has been delayed by close to an hour. We are pushing the next speaker up on stage to do what he is supposed to do. Speak.

Shreyas Srinivasan of Radio VeRVe goes up to talk about Independent Music and why it ought to form an important part of our daily life. Leading the audience through the definition of independent music (“where the rights of the content rest with the musician / creator”) he explores the reasons as to why the mass music culture is nearly a mono culture. The well entrenched chain of distribution and promotion hassles are good enough reasons to inhibit any musician to attempt to break into the market. Since significant real estate is in the hands of “labels” – they end up defining what the populace would listen to. In this context, internet based independent music stations like Radio VeRVe provide more than a fair chance to creativity. Building an ecosystem that is not only limited to music, Radio VeRVe operates in the same space as Magnatune and Jamendo does. He has a few T-shirts for the important questions – I ask one, but don’t get a T-shirt of my size :( Sadness. It is a good interactive session probing into areas we generally don’t end up looking into, but more importantly engaging the participants to “think about it”. For those who attended Sajan’s talk on Community Radio it does help to put things in perspective.

Amazingly delicious lunch. Jokes abound as to how freed.in is actually food.in with talks and conclaves wrapped around it to provide the patina of an event.

Unfortunately, we (Runa and me) take leave in order to catch the flight just as Friji begins her talk. Andrew says “Oh! I don’t actually do anything, the event just happens”. Sure it does Andrew – sure it does. It happens because there is a large collective of folks who want to push the boundaries of existing pedagogy to investigate the currency of knowledge and how that currency is important in creating a sustainable economy and a strong nation. It happens because of the team of volunteers who run around all over the place to make it happen.

If you have never attended a freed.in ever – make sure to mark it on your calendar the dates for the next edition. You will never stop being surprised by the enthusiasm, the depth of view points and the passionate arguments. You will never ever think of not coming to this event.