Freed-Day 2

Hi all,
Stuff about day 2 in Day 2 started on time (much to my surprise) and the first order of the day was GNUKhata by Anusha . The talk/demo was supposed to be on the first day but was then put up for the second day as Anusha had a sore throat. Still on the second day, it did not get well hence KK or Krishnakant Mane helped her with the talk/demo.

The software is very much alpha at the stage and they are basically looking for contributions from the accounting background. The project at this point of time is being sponsored by comet media foundation .

Obviously, the project still has to go a long long way before it can make some mark.
Projects like these would work only if they are able to sustain interests of the target audience ( small traders, business shops etc.) and there is good support structure built around that.

If they do manage to come to beta quality and if they are able to get the software packaged into distributions like Debian and Ubuntu and able to follow the bug-triaging and bug-fixing stuff then we may have something worth talking about.

Incidentally, the project has a google group called gnu-khata which one may join if one is interested to participate in the activities.

The effort is well appreciated and hope it finds many takers 🙂

The next two back-to-back talks were about a project called wikieducator . As a nominal wikipedia contributor I was very much interested to see what it was all about. The first session was taken by Dr. Savithri Singh who has an impressive page of her’s on wikieducator. She made a beautiful presentation which had snapshots of the various different kind of wiki articles that has graced the site. It covered articles from various scientific and non-scientific disciplines and had text, illustrations and videos all under the creative commons license.

The next session were taken up Dr. Gita Mathur and Dr. Promila Kumar . They basically have set up a Linux Gargi User Group as well as using and leading the wikieducator theme as well. They are also looking for people to contribute to the same. All of them are part of ACHARYA NARENDRA DEV COLLEGE .

Their presentation is online and they are also looking for contributors and project ideas for their students.

One interesting question which was popped up is why are the participants using their original names? And not just names but pictures to go along with it. In wikipedia most of the times people prefer to have another handle (say avatar) which is their digital self which may be due to privacy issues or something else altogether. Issues like stalking and identity theft are some of the issues/concerns thrown about.

To the panel (if I may call them that) they haven’t had that experience and if and when they do they always have a recourse to trying something else out.

The next one was ‘Educational Resource Planning (ERP): Transforming Higher Education through FOSS’ given by Sanjeev Singh. It was about how moodle could be used to make things efficient.

While I’ve played a bit with moodle I still find it very much top-down kind of structure whereas the wiki is always a bit more fairer in the process.

Next was lunch 😉

The next one up was about a project called Apertium which was given by Pranava Swaroop . The simplest way I could understand that is its doing something similar to what google translate does. The only difference is while google translate is good with very dissimilar languages, this is trying to do with similar languages (having similar letters, notations etc.) Its an interesting project and hope it does become mainstream and used widely.

The next one up was titled ‘The answer to Google Earth Universe and Everything Else’ done by Shashank Singh. While the title itself was curious, the demo was about a FOSS KDE application called Marble and the way it looks, it sure is going to go places.

In fact, you should check out Shashank’s Slides for what I’m talking about.

The last one which I saw Gurteshwar Singh’s The Web, Open Source Software + Freedom of Expression: Tools for Social Transformation which was very similar to a talk I had listened to at but from a different perspective. Basically he was sharing what he observed how social-networking can make opinions count.

What I found interesting was an old story which had happened while I was growing up. While I was growing up, there was no net as we see today. There was the BBS scene. One of the fun things to do was try to know where and what combination of things to do in order to get games, nude stuff and so on and so forth. I am talking from Pune perspective so this might not hold true elsewhere. Anyway, that’s not the real story. The story is/was that BBS was basically a hack of the Net. While it was not illegal to access the net it was prohibitively expensive. So a few brave/luckless souls used to get a server, dial onto the internet on some american/european server paying full rates/charges as voice charges and download some of the popular content. They made good money by distributing to people for x amount of money (subscription-based) where the members had to dial to the local server in Pune or elsewhere.

The govt. of India came to know that this group of people were making good money and decided to tax them at some ridiculous rates. The BBS’s all over came and the govt. had to backtrack on the move. And that was his point. That if in that time ’94-’95 this could be done then why not now.

The real story which he forgot was that the year after, ERNET was up and shell accounts were starting to give people which dried up the business of BBS overtime.
Even at 100 bucks it started to make sense for people to set up cyber-cafes which are prevalent till date.

His 2 second plug as his take on where this can be taken forward.

My take, watch out for wordpress+buddypress, that should be a killer thing to look at 😉

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