Sarah Thayer - Leslie Hawthorn Talk

I'm so glad I could make it to this! Leslie Hawthorn, a Program Manager for Google, gave a great talk on the concepts of "Free Your Mind: Social Change Begins With How You Use Your Software." She was a really fun and energized speaker.

One of her first points was that sharing is not a new concept! While this seems too obvious to point out, I felt silly for not realizing this before. Of course it's not new, yet people seem to have forgotten it. "Human beings are social creatures," she said, and as well as I've learned that, society as a whole has moved away from the concept of sharing anything but random thought and personal information (blogs, Facebook being prime examples).

She also talked about Stallman, and his story of Xerox printers - which I never knew before. Her talk, even moreso than Revolution OS, dug up ideas which I'd grasped at on some level, but never applied to the workings of society. For example, the idea of open source versus proprietary software: proprietary software development is like "reinventing the wheel over and over and over again."

Yet again, the epic 90s I evidently missed out on, open source-wise, were interesting: between 1998 and 2009, there were over 65 OSI-approved licenses, 50% of source code was still released under the GPL, and FOSS became critical in building billion-dollar enterprises. Just think Apache.

However, it seems in some ways that we have new hope in a community-loving society, as more and more opportunities to use the open source model in things besides computing and software. It seems a fine line between "sharing is caring" and privacy of our ever-computerized world, with bank account numbers and social security numbers - everything is in numbers. Where do we find the balance?


RAM Comments: Yes indeed. I think your generation will be completely different from mine that still finds social networking (on the internet) a bit strange and invasive. It will be interesting to see where this all leads.

On the other hand, I think it will be up to people like you to lead the way on this. That was not a representative audience. Most people don't know about FOSS and the philosophy of sharing that it promotes. It needs more enthusiastic advocates like Leslie. Someone with an English/CS major should be perfect for that role!  :)