Software Freedom Day 2010 Summary
View the full report at http://ateneosoftwarefreedom.kom.ph.
Over 200 students from ten different schools in Davao City converged at Ateneo de Davao University to celebrate Software Freedom Day last September 18, 2010. Joining them were local IT industry practitioners who had built businesses around free software.
The day's main activities consisted of discussions around free and open source software. Conducted in parallel tracks throughout the day, Ateneo put together sixteen sessions in all. Each session would accommodate 30 to 40 participants. The sessions covered a wide range of topics to cater to a wide range of interests.
Also part of the event was a USB installfest where students could have their flash drives loaded with portable operating systems and portable applications. The breaks in between the sessions also provided an opportunity for people to network and share ideas.
Schools participating in Software Freedom Day included: AMA Computer College, DMMA College, Intercity College of Science and Technology, Jose Maria College, Holy Child College, University of Immaculate Conception, University of Mindanao, University of the Philippines, and University of Southeastern Philippines. Their participation was facilitated by the Davao chapter of the Philippine Society of IT Students (PSITS).
For Students, By Students
Though the initial impetus for Software Freedom Day came from the faculty of the Computer Studies Division, Ateneo students themselves managed all aspects of Software Freedom Day. Once the plans were set in motion, the teachers relegated themselves to advisory capacity.
Officers of the Ateneo Circle of CS Students (ACCSS), led by president Marian Kristie Sanchez, began planning for the event some four weeks before Software Freedom Day. Their pre-work included lining up speakers, promoting the event among other schools through the PSITS network, and preparing the collateral to be given out to the participants.
Likewise, students led majority of the technology discussions. Of the 16 sessions, nine were conducted by currently enrolled students of Ateneo and two by recently graduated alumni. Some of the presentations drew from the students' experiences with their theses work, and some from their own hobbies and side projects.
With their peers leading the presentations, the mostly-student audience were less intimated and more ready to join in the discussions. Participants actively engaged the speakers with questions, suggestions, and sharing of their own experiences..
A Wide Range of Interests
The activities were geared primarily towards people new to free software. Breaking down the talks by clusters of interest:
* Operating systems, in particular those for mobile devices, received the lion's share of attention at Software Freedom Day. There were sessions on Ubuntu, Android, Maemo, and Symbian. Interestingly, the talks in this cluster were all given by current students of Ateneo's operating system class.
* CMS. There were sessions for Moodle and Drupal.
* Graphics and multimedia. There were sessions for Blender, Open Video, and Inkscape.
* Application development. There were sessions for development of Google Chrome extensions and CakePHP.
Local IT industry practitioners shared their experiences in rolling out projects involving free and open source software. Atty. Sam Matunog, president of Davao-based Segworks, talked about his company's work in computerizing local hospitals using the open source Care2X software. Mark Maglana of Cebu-based G2iX flew in to talk about his experiences in starting an open source project.
Embracing Diversity, Engaging the Community
Diversity provided a subtext to the events of Software Freedom Day at Ateneo. More than half the participants were women, and several of the sessions were led by women. The audience also had representatives from the indigenous lumad and Muslim communities, as well as persons with disabilities. Similarly, projects discussed in the sessions had some impact to the local community.
Hazel Joie Diez and James Elson Solano presented their thesis on the implementation of the Sahana disaster management system for the Disaster Coordinating Council of Davao City. They showed the customization work to adapt Sahana to local needs, as well as their SMS components for the missing persons reporting system.
Rina Ayra Diaz, Jainnielyn Ching, and Melmart Ibañez also presented their work on Sphinx voice recognition. While their thesis focused on enhanced filtering, they demonstrated Sphinx with Speech Lion and showed how the software could be used by persons with disabilities.
Ateneo faculty member Dominique Gerald Cimafranca gave a bilingual English-Bisaya presentation on "FOSS for Social Development"/"FOSS ug ang Pagpalambo sa Katawhan." His presentation gave an overview of how free software can help enhance community capabilities.
UP Mindanao student Kenneth Porio spoke of his upcoming thesis which would focus on cultural preservation of the indigenous communities of Mindanao.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
Software Freedom Day 2010 marked Ateneo de Davao's first time to participate in this global event. The level of excitement and anticipation among the students and faculty of the Computer Studies Division going into this activity ran high. This despite Software Freedom Day coming in immediately after the students' thesis presentation hell week. In a way the timing was providential: the festivities of Software Freedom Day provided an outlet for all the pent-up stress from their academics.
The Computer Studies Division had some preparation for Software Freedom Day as it was the host for this year's Philippine Computer Science Congress. Earlier in the year, it also ran the the in-school A.T.M.O.S.phere program, an afternoon of presentations on students' open source projects. The Software Freedom Day series of talks was patterned after these two events, with sessions that were small, cozy, informal, and conducive to participant interaction.
Even the preparation for Software Freedom Day proved to be both a learning experience and an opportunity to promote free software. Prep work involved coordination with other member schools of PSITS to ensure a good turnout of participants. Then there was the task of deciding on topics and lining up speakers (fortunately, there was no lack of volunteers for the slots).
It was fortunate, too, that Ateneo took on the job of putting together Software Freedom Day for Davao City this year. Software Freedom Day was first celebrated in Davao in 2007 at University of Southeastern Philippines, organized by the DabaweGNU Linux User's Group and again in 2008 at the University of Mindanao and 2009 at the University of Immaculate Conception. For 2010, however, DabaweGNU did not organize any SFD activities. By celebrating it this year, Ateneo provided continuity for Software Freedom Day in Davao City.
Certainly it won't be the last, if the response of the faculty and the students are any indication. At the end of festivities, ACCSS officers met to discuss what went well, what could've been done better, and what plans to make for Software Freedom Day 2011.