I recently returned from the Thirteenth International Forum for Free Software (FISL) in Porto Alegre Brazil. With an attendance of about 8,000 this year, it is the largest tech conference in South America and likely the largest free/open source conference in the world. I was fortunate to have attended representing OSI and presented a keynote on free and open source software and its civic and social impact around the world, and a second session on Economic Development.
The Brazilian government – with great grassroots support – was a pioneer in the use of free software as an economic development strategy, and also to bridge the digital divide by lowering the barrier to access to technology. Today the government’s involvement has shifted in some respects, and community leaders from a number of Latin American countries are debating in general the pros and cons of government partnership in their FOSS initiatives.
The “Hacker Bus” project – pictured above behind myself and colleague Paulo Mierelles from the University of Sao Paulo FLOSS Competency Center – really impressed. Getting technology and “Hacktivism” out into undeserved areas makes for a fantastic program.
You can read more about the project on The Next Web published during last year’s conference.