Bonum Certa Men Certa

Experiencing 15 Years of LibrePlanet Celebration Firsthand as a Volunteer: 2023 - Charting the Course

Article by Marcia K Wilbur

LibrePlanet logo



Welcome from LibrePlanet 2023!



This year, LibrePlanet was hybrid with on-site and online options from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

It was a breezy and chilly weekend outside. The Boston St. Patty's day parade was scheduled around the corner for Sunday. What a great time to be in Boston!

Although I wanted to be there earlier, 9ish was time for me to come in from being out in the cold, for the 15-year celebration -- Free Software Foundation's LibrePlanet.

Charting the Course was the theme. We were on board!

Event: Office party



My intention was to attend the office party early in the evening. However, I ended up on the wrong Franklin Street and was late. As I arrived, Craig was at the front and directed me to the refreshments and a contact, Illan, who would use me if there was a need.

Several people registered at the FSF offices for the conference starting the next day. The office party was a lot of mingling, talk about USENET, signal, privacy, makerspaces and much much more. The snacks were fresh and there was a variety of beverages including wine.

As the office party and evening came to a close, we were so entertained with lively conversation, we did not even realize the party was ending. I always recommend this party as a great meet and greet opportunity for free software enthusiasts. Again, this was a welcoming environment with no known issues. It was a great time!

Logistics and Venue



Parking was convenient and there was a driver with a cart to take you right to registration and the event!

The venue was comfortable and the event was welcoming!

Upon arrival at the convention center, a friendly security officer approached me, "Are you here for the tech event?"

"YES!"

He gave information about parking and the area. He mentioned the cart would be ready to take me up to the event. This was very pleasant.

The cart driver was very friendly and drove right up to registration.

There at registration, Craig greeted participants with a warm and welcoming smile. For this event, I was a volunteer at registration.

I was glad to be there.

Hallway Track



In between sessions and during lunch or just roaming around, we found ourselves in the hallway drinking coffee, discussing privacy, surveillance, Internet of things, AI/ML ethics, disaster recovery, and copyleft. Some discussions were about the state of healthcare, gaming and food!

The hallway track was a comfortable area to freely discuss interesting topics, share stories and meet peers.

Coffee was hot, always fresh and hot coffee was available throughout the entire event.

All required bill of materials were available: sugar, half and half, oat milk, milk, etc.

Bowls of fruit were lined up near the coffee station. The fruit was fresh and I appreciated the snack as my own snack, a yogurt from the hotel, burst in my sweater pocket during the journey!

There were areas to sit, eat, converse and work on your laptop.

GNU Press set up on the other side of Room 4. Past LibrePlanet swag as well as current swag was available. At any given time you could find people in legacy t-shirts (happy hacking) or FSF hoodies.

Oh, volunteers were given a free t-shirt - so we match. Let's do this! The volunteer at the shop smiled and looked in a box for the tee. The shirt was wrapped with my name printed on the label. I thought, cool. Very organized.

Registration Desk



We sat and assisted participants, speakers and attendees. The process was efficient and smooth.

"Which color lanyard?"

Green = Yes, photos are ok Yellow = Ask me first, please Red = No pictures

I remember this from past LibrePlanet but for some reason, assisting attendees this time, I gained a deeper appreciation of the respect for each individual's privacy consideration.

There were some familiar faces passing through registration, and a lot of new acquaintances to be made!

Safety



During volunteer training we went over the safe space policy. The language seemed much better than other codes of CONduct.

I saw no safety issues, I witnessed none and I felt not only safe there, but welcome!

We were prepared with protocols for any potential safety issues, but I was there for the Friday party, the Saturday event and Sunday morning with 0 issues.

Big Blue Button



We used bbb for presentations where the presenter spoke from a distance. This technology allows us to gain insight and information from all over the world. I attended the Libre Software in Africa and the JShelter presentation done in this manner.

A combination of IRC and IRL questions were taken during the Q and A portion. Again, this gave ample opportunity for free communication during this hybrid event.

Some Presentations



Opening Keynote

The keynote speaker on Saturday was Erin Rose Glass. She spoke about Education and the Future of Software Freedom.

Some of the topics discussed focused on data privacy, surveillance and education technology. She informed attendees about some of the darker truths to educational technology tools and companies. The presentation will be found here (soon).

The speaker understood the 4 freedom factors and applied these during the talk. Spoiler alert, she asked the audience to think about the pivoting moment leading to your decision to take the free software path.

The information discussed included remote proctors, turnitin tool used to check for copyright violations, and learning management tracking (SCORM and more).

Having worked in the field of education and with a focus in privacy matters, I found this keynote not only informative but also inspiring!

A practical demonstration of least authority services via free software

Sean O'Brien and Mikalai Birukou

This presentation about 3NWeb use cases including encrypted and storage is definitely worth watching for any privacy-minded individuals.

Life 0.01 - Free software for the end times

Kevin Shockey

Kevin Shockey has insight and traveled from Puerto Rico to discuss the "survival stack". After Hurricane Maria his efforts are focused on food shortages, disaster survival and climate.

JShelter

Libor Polčák

JShelter presentation used Big Blue Button. Libor Polčák discussed fingerprinting prevention, limitations of rich Web APIs, and browsers. JShelter fingerprinting report and other feedback can be used by future security research.

Libre Software in Africa

Benson Muite

Benson Muite discussed localization and the need great translation. There is a contest available here.

What I gained from this presentation was a potential need for documentation efforts further using po and .pot files or some other portable object.

There was much much more to be seen at the conference and the videos will soon be available here.

More Information



From the FSF...

Day 1: https://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/reporting-back-from-day-one-of-libreplanet-charting-the-course Day 2: https://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/from-freedom-trail-to-free-boot-and-free-farms-charting-the-course-at-libreplanet-day-2

List of presentations: https://www.gnu.org/software/gettext/manual/html_node/PO-Files.html

Also: Experience the fifteen years of LibrePlanet celebration firsthand as a volunteer

Survey: https://my.fsf.org/node/59/

Conclusion



Overall, this event is in the top 5 conferences I ever attended and, they put me to work! I truly enjoyed the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere and sincerely hope the FSF will maintain charting the course in this direction!

I want to thank the staff, presenters, participants and volunteers for contributing to this event in providing an enjoyable experience!

See you next year!

"With a little perseverance you can get things done."

--Corey Hart



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