Tuesday 31 October 2006
Local groups have often organized meetings in schools or local libraries to introduce the Free Software movement. With the Advocacy Project, Fellows want to build on 20 years of experience advocating Free Software to bring the movement to newer generations.
Local groups have often organized meetings in schools or local libraries to introduce the Free Software movement. Frequently these efforts have been extremely successful locally, but it's rare for that success to cross national borders. Advocacy wants to build on 20 years of experience advocating Free Software. We want to bring local action to a wider public and build the international credibility of the Free Software Foundation Europe's Fellowship.
It is not difficult to stand up in public and explain what Free Software is, but what if somebody asks questions you are not ready to answer? How can you effectively explain DRM to a group of high school students? Why should your mother care about Free Software in her cell phone? Why should your boss know about ODF? And what is the fuss about software patents anyway? These topics are not easy to engage with effectively. Following all the discussions and threads of the community is impossible for anybody with a normal job and a normal life.
Still, many Fellows feel they want to do something, want to act, want to contribute to fostering freedom in the digital age and their feelings are frustrated by the lack of a clear and simple model to draw inspiration from. Many biologists or doctors volunteer their free time to go to schools to illustrate the problems with drug abuse or talk about sexual education: why not empowering Fellows to talk in schools about freedom in the digital age?
The scope of the Advocacy project is to transform Fellows into an army of activists that can give speeches and talk about Free Software with competence and precision comparable to that of any FSFE Team Member. This army will inform their peers, friends, relatives, colleagues about the GNU world, about the digital society at large and about the changes happening in this realm. The main aim is to educate people about the importance of freedom in digital spaces and how to achieve it.
Fellows will be preparing simple training and inspirational materials to better advocate Free Software to specific audiences, like students of different ages or professionals. These materials will range from FAQs to recordings of other presentations from peers and template speeches to replicate, so that nobody has to re-invent the wheel.
The Advocacy is a plan of action with strong local characterization using national resources; groups of Fellows will cooperate with other existing groups like GNU/Linux User Groups wherever possible. The resources of FSFE will help local groups to attract sponsors and gain credibility, while FSFE will achieve its statutory goals. Fellows will also involve teachers directly and immediately in the first phases of the project: it is crucial for the success of the initiative to find experts in teaching that will cooperate not only developing the content of the speeches, but also to enter in the schools more easily.
The coordinators of this project will be found within the Fellows in each country. An ad-hoc section of the fsfe.org portal describes the structure of the project, illustrates the active groups, collects and indexes the training materials. A wiki system will be put in place, available also to non-Fellows for contribution.
Fellow Advocates will multiply the word about the Fellowship with their activities, providing also a visible sign in their local environment.
Aim of Advocacy project
The Advocacy project aims at empowering Fellows to go give speeches about Free Software in high schools to educate younger generations to value freedom in the digital age.
Phases of the project
Fellows will collect, screen and catalog the existing advocacy materials available. Things like recordings of introductory speeches given by all Free Software experts at conferences or lessons will be gathered and reviewed. The Fellows will have to identify a simple set of criteria to judge the quality of these materials in order to use them as inspiration to develop a standard presentation to use as introduction to Free Software.
IMPORTANT: it is crucial to involve immediately experienced teachers and other actors of the schools to have their expertise. It will be crucial in next phases, but having them on board sooner is better.
Tools to use: <discussion AT fsfeurope DOT org> (the public mailing list) or <discussion AT lists.fsfe DOT org> (the internal mailing list for Fellows).
Deliverable of this/ phase: a simple set of criteria to judge the quality of advocacy materials available.
Fellows will develop a common set of slides and text for the speeches. These will form a basic, global package that can be customized to adapt it to local needs and circumstances. Unexperienced speakers will take full advantage of the ready-to-use material, while experienced Free Software advocates will appreciate to have ready to use presentations to compare with and also the graphics and designs to reuse. Graphic designers will have to be involved to help prepare impressive graphics to use for the presentations and other hand-outs materials.
IMPORTANT: this phase needs the active participation of local teachers.
Since it is crucial to develop these materials in as many languages as possible, fellowship-hackers will implement the translation tool for the portal and add a wiki.
Tools to use:discussion at fsfeurope.org (the public mailing list) or discussion at lists.fsfe.org (the internal mailing list for Fellows)., if implemented the wiki on fsfe.org Deliverable of this phase: a package for Fellows to give an introductory speech about Free Software. The package includes a standard set of slides with a common design, a FAQ to prepare the speakers and a catalog of audio/video material to get inspiration.
Following the setup phase, Fellows will be ready to start giving speeches in their local areas. A tool to localize other Fellows will facilitate the creation of groups. In this phase fellowship-hackers will help creating maps showing the presence of Fellows within a geographic area. The local groups will have to start build contacts with schools and other subjects where to give speeches and advocate Free Software regularly. How to build contacts and how to organize the speeches will be left to each local group. The Fellowship portal will be set to facilitate exchange of experiences between the active groups. The FSFE communication structure will help giving visibility to the local events with press releases and providing hints on how to draft an effective press release and other contacts. Tools to use: <discussion AT fsfeurope DOT org> (the public mailing list) or <discussion AT lists.fsfe DOT org> (the internal mailing list for Fellows)., if implemented the wiki on fsfe.org and fsfe.org maps
Deliverable of this phase: a geographic extension to eZ Publish to help localize Fellows. A list of active groups constantly updated.
Advocacy continuous upgrades
Since this will be an ongoing effort, maintenance of the project will be done constantly since the group creation. Yearly meetings will be promoted and organized for all local efforts together with local groups active in schools.