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Free Software Foundation's Conference and Free Software Directory Meetup

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GNU
  • Free Software Awards

    The president and founder of the Free Software Foundation will speak about pressing issues in free software today, and will present the winners of the 2018 Free Software Awards.

  • Incompossibilities: Ubiquitous Engineering Tradeoffs

    Many things in life come with limitations -- often because we don't have unlimited time, energy, or other resources. But software often feels like it should be an exception, because it's immaterial and weightless, built from scratch out of logic. It doesn't literally rust or rot. So idealistic software developers have consistently envisioned software systems that will escape the shortcomings that frustrate users.

    Meanwhile, researchers keep discovering kinds of tradeoffs that seem to be built into the very structure of certain problems; as the Rolling Stones said, "You can't always get what you want." Inherent tradeoffs have popped up in political science, computer science, and even ethical philosophy, with conjectures and often formal proofs that, in various regards, can't be wedged into any system that will give people all that they want out of it. Limitative theorems are now a major research theme, and more are being found all the time.

    These tradeoffs seem to have very practical consequences, among other things, for privacy and anonymity software, and for social networks: each design may have to give up things some users value in order to achieve other goals.

    Thinking about these limitations and what they do or don't mean can help inform discussions of software design, especially for communications tools whose value depends on broad adoption. And we're having to get used to the idea that in some ways, we'll never create perfect software.

  • Copyleft, Diversity & Critical Infrastructure

    GPL enforcement and Outreachy are the two most visible and controversial programs that Conservancy undertakes. In this talk, Karen will explore how the programs fit together in the context of software freedom generally. Karen will review her work around medical devices and critical infrastructure and show how seemingly disparate initiatives fit into a single advocacy narrative.

  • Freedom. Embedded. Vehicles?

    Modern vehicles are nodes on a network with a high degree of autonomy. As they've become more connected, they've incorporated more free software. But the fundamentally proprietary nature of car and truck manufacturers has led to regulatory and compliance issues that have unclear outcomes. The outcomes are increasingly pertinent to software freedom, especially as the use of free software shifts domains from consumer-focused to safety-critical.

  • The ethics void

    Many communities have widely adopted codes of ethics governing the moral conduct of their members and professionals. Some of these codes may even be enshrined in law, and for good reason—certain conduct can have enormous consequences on the lives of others.

    Software and technology pervade virtually every aspect of our lives. Yet, when compared to other fields, our community leaders and educators have produced an ethics void. Last year, I introduced numerous topics concerning privacy, security, and freedom that raise serious ethical concerns. Join me this year as we consider some of those examples and others in an attempt to derive a code of ethics that compares to the moral obligations of other fields, and to consider how leaders and educators should approach ethics within education and guidance.

  • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: April 13th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

    Help improve the Free Software Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. Every Friday we meet on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

    Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

    When a user comes to the Directory, they know that everything in it is free software, has only free dependencies, and runs on a free OS. With over 16,000 entries, it is a massive repository of information about free software.

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