Penguin Days were established with the intent to bring together open source developers and technology support staff for nonprofits. The first in March 2004 began an important conversation about the challenges and opportunities extant in realizing the promise of free and open source software in the nonprofit sector. The event spawned a host of similar gatherings in Portland (Oregon), London, Toronto, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Seattle. Aspiration created replicable, self-documenting materials for local organizations to run the events, with the intention of adapting the process and content model to other types of events.
Aspiration facilitated and designed the agenda for Green Media Toolshed’s convening of network strategists, foundations and funders curious to discuss what it means to fund networks of organizations instead of individual entities. Underwritten by the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the event was a two-day strategy roundtable to identify essential elements of network development to support movement building.
The first Advocacy Developers Convergence brought together developers and allies focused on internet advocacy software. The convergence yielded a valuable and popular web resource (wiki.advocacydev.org) that continues to grow in popularity, has led several projects to merge efforts and share code, and has generated several new projects, including an open database initiative for shared data standards, an Open Source Almanac for nonprofits, a localization working group, and applications from the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and SMS (Short Message Services) sprint events.
A direct outcome of the first Advocacy Developers Convergence, this event convened software developers passionate about investigating the potential nonprofit applications for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The VoIP sprint produced an “info-line” application built on top of the Asterisk server platform. The tool allows organizations to set up dial-in information lines for campaigning and event organizing, and has already seen substantial use.
Aspiration provided facilitation and agenda design at this event, hosted by wire.less.dk and held to discuss the potential for wireless community networking in developing countries, as well as to introduce practitioners from around the world to one another. Proceedings were logged on an Aspiration-designed wiki.
Another outcome of the first Advocacy Developers Convergence, this event brought together activists and SMS experts to work on building applications to take advantage of cell phone text messaging in various advocacy contexts. The sprint produced a working “SMS Blaster” capable of sending very large numbers of messages to subscribed cell phones. The blaster was used in various Get Out The Vote (GOTV) and elections monitoring projects around the US elections. In addition, substantial new content was posted for NGO use at wiki.advocacydev.org.
Aspiration designed the agenda and facilitated this convergence of developer and users of the ActionApps web publishing platform, who traveled from all over the world to discuss the vision and direction for the platform, and plan for capacity building and sustainability of their open source community. Focus areas including training materials development, support for online advocacy features, multi-lingual web sites, and hands-on skillshares. The content management system (CMS) landscape was mapped and discussed, and user survey results were presented.
Aspiration supported and facilitated this colloquium on (www.ict-humanrights.org) in in partnerships with Human Rights Education Associates and Benetech that brought human rights program and IT staff together for a three-day knowledge sharing and hands-on training event on using information technology in human rights work. Collective knowledge was documented at wiki.ict-humanrights.org, and the material was being used to author a human rights technology strategy paper.
Aspiration and Tactical Technology Collective hosted a Localization Sprint in Warsaw, Poland from the 20th to the 22nd of November, 2004. The event brought together a diverse group of leaders and innovators in software and documentation localization to share experiences, compare projects and practices, and document the same. More information and the wiki are at the Localization Developers site.
Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) offers a promising alternative for meeting the software needs of civil society across the African continent. But much work remains to be done in building understanding, capacity and community among developers interested in creating tools to support the sector.
The first FLOSS Developer Roadshow convened African software developers to meet one another, share skills and build knowledge, while designing and implementing appropriate tools for civil society. The event was aimed at meeting sustainable development needs while enhancing the pool of appropriate software skills in the regions. Participants left with with a better understanding of the potential and reality of FLOSS for civil society, new expertise and an enhanced network of contacts and potential collaborators.
Allen Gunn of Aspiration facilitated the event. The Developer Roadshow was hosted by our colleagues at CSIR and supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.