This short post is an attempt to share an ongoing project, process/experiment we are doing with sharing our knowledge of GNU/Linux with an underprivileged school :-

The initial idea came from Vignesh Prabhu and Praveen Arimbrathodiyil as listed in the PP Wiki. The idea was basically on these themes :-

a. The current digital environment is based on the individual being just a consumer with the powers-that-be (read corporate interests) deciding what the future entails.

b. The copyleft movement through its offerings of various GNU/Linux distributions, digital network offerings such as diaspora and decentralized networks does make an effort to let individuals do take that power back with him.

c. But there is a big disconnect. In many places both in the world and especially in India the ones who know and the ones who need to know (the next-gen) aren’t actually meeting one another.

d. One important difference we want to make known. We are open to ‘sharing’ and not ‘teaching’ . While the terminology may seem to be the same, there is a huge difference. While in sharing one is able to contribute, argue and possibility of change is there, ‘teaching’ is more often than not a voice of authority where dialog is not possible and everything is a ‘fact’ that cannot be questioned.

This is an attempt to fill in the gap. While we are just staring with the full endeavour and just finished our first session couple of days before and has been shared as minutes and memories by people.

Praveen shares some more backgrounder on the idea itself in an email on the list. You can see some photos when we are doing some installations and tweaking around with the hardware.

Things still to be done :-

a. Document, Document, Document :- What we did was a on the fly thing and while we can do it couple of more times, we need to document what we are actually doing. People need to take turns in documenting the examples, the similes or whatever we are or were using to connect the concepts to everyday life. This could be useful both for ourselves as well people who might use it after us or at some different place. This needs some discussion and some volunteers.

b. Some kind of syllabus :- As already shared, while we did the first session on the fly and could do few more sessions on the fly it would make sense to have some sort of even a rough syllabus of what we hope to cover and what. If we are able to talk about it and document and slowly fill in the blanks we should be able to focus and get some more insight.

c. Discipline :- Right now we are and were high on enthusiasm so the first session went right over 6 hours with the result that some people might have over-exerted themselves. This is not a short-term thing and we should think of pacing ourselves to a marathon rather than a sprint. It also means we should be limiting ourselves to do one thing for sometime and then move on. For e.g. our boys session stretched beyond 2 hours and we didn’t realize it. The idea being people should be able to contribute as much as possible to everything without over-exerting themselves.

Now why to do it on personal grounds (self-interest) :-

a. Simply because it’s fun.
b. You begin to remember what you had forgotten due to not being used on a daily basis and are then forced to remember.
c. You are forced to use analogies, similes, humor to engage with people and keep them engaged which does in turn make you a better communicator.
d. You learn both the technical aspects as well social skills as you move a little out of your comfort zone.
e. It feels good.
f. It looks good on your resume as well.
g. Something constructive to do with your free time.

I’m sure there are a few more reasons out there but am resting it here.

What we need :-

a. More volunteers who want to engage both on free software philosophy and have enthusiasm to sharing.

b. Some spare old machines which could be used to install FOSS distributions and be shared with students as well as local community.

There are also sessions planned with the local community where we are teaching in the offing but are delayed due to want of resources and people there as well.

Till l8er.

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