Shaping Your Free Software Project... and the World?

We'll talk about the fundamentals of participating in Free Software projects and communities, which is why this is in the Fundamentals track, but we'll also talk about how we as individuals and as groups can shape what our powerful software is built to do— and how we build power through coördination in the context of extreme power inequalities that we, mere web developers and other information technology workers, are well-positioned to change, which is why this could be in the Revolution track, if there was one.

How Do You Make a Difference?

Challenges you might want to take on and possible courses of action which we'll discuss include:

There's some feature you want or want to make better:
Learn, publicize, code, document, coordinate, fund.
Not a proportionate number of contributors to beneficiaries:
Make involvement more accessible, varied, encouraged.
Contributors to the community good not always secure financially:
Form coalitions, better passing of work & employment, crowdfunding.
Common needs are going unmet:
Create a better way to coordinate and contribute.

Participation in the session (or comments to this post right now) from people seeking an outcome and people who know what your particular software community most wants, and how to engage, very welcome.

Who Owns Free Software?

WordPress isn't owned by Matt Mulenwegg or Automattic and Drupal does not belong to Dries Buytaert or the Drupal Association. As Free Software released under the GPL, it belongs to you (and every other person who steps up to claim it) equally.

Free Software is a form of wealth that everyone shares.

What does it mean to accept this ownership?

Black Star Co-Op Pub & Brewery [in Austin, Texas] opened doors in the summer of 2010, with a large banner outside reading "Community-Owned Beer." A consumer cooperative (owned by the community it serves) and also a worker-coop (run by its employees), Black Star is attracting a full house of business seven days a week.
From A Cooperative Economy by Carmen Llanes

Our banner should be Community-Owned Software. And we can learn from the co-operative movement, and its acceptance of buyer and worker cooperatives, including hybrids like Black Star. Both builders of the software and users of the software can step up and claim ownership in different ways.

Why Us?

It's time to get involved— and to reap the benefits of participation. Second-order benefits are "you participate and good things will/may happen as a consequence."

First-order benefits are immediate from the act of participating itself. Nothing big, except by the accumulation of many little things. Participating makes you better. These direct benefits are specific to forms of participation so will be discussed along with the ways and means of participating.

But most of all, shaping a part of the future of our Free Software projects means shaping our own future, and potentially our community and our world's future.

If we — workers with direct access to software powering much of the Web and enough time to come to this awesome summit — don't coordinate to take relatively small and simple collective actions that make our immediate professional environment better, how will we — the broader community of humans on this planet — build the networks and tools needed to stop exploitation, prevent violence, avert or deal with global warming, and otherwise move toward justice, liberty, prosperity, and simple survival for all?

We can do our part simply by figuring out still better and more sustainable ways to make our software and community better— like coming together to add or improve features, support contributors, and meet common needs.

Experience level: 
Session Time Slot(s): 
Sep 14 2014 - 1:30pm-Sep 14 2014 - 2:30pm
Allowed Types: 
Session Track: 

Session Tracks (NERDSummit 2014)

Speaker Bio(s): 

Benjamin Melançon (mlncn) lives and works to connect ideas, resources, and people to help us all gain as much power possible over our own lives.

He re-found Drupal in 2006 and co-founded Agaric, a web development and consulting collective which helps people create and use powerful Internet technology, in the same year. He remains a principal of Agaric and an advocate of worker co-operatives. Recently, as CTO of Activore (building communities supportive of better health and fitness) he had the opportunity to play with many non-Drupal technologies. This led to the formation of a Spry Group and Agaric joint venture, ImageScale, to bring the goodness of Drupal's imagecache approach to everyone.

Probably best known in the Drupal community for posting problems he runs into (and occasionally solutions he stumbles over) to, this somehow to have led to writing, joined by three dozen authors, The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7.

Currently in his non-existent spare time Ben pushes the Snowball initiative to create a user-need-led collaborative funding platform for Drupal projects.