Aspiration News

Software Freedom Law Center to offer legal support to nonprofit open source projects

This just announced:

Eben Moglen, chief legal counsel of the Free Software Foundation and law professor at Columbia, will head a newly established law center to provide legal counsel to nonprofit open source projects.

From the press release of the Software Freedom Law Center:

"February 1, 2005 – Columbia University Law Professor Eben Moglen today announced the formation of the Software Freedom Law Center, whose mission is to provide pro-bono legal services globally to eligible non-profit open source software projects and developers.

Aspiration's Innovation Track at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC)

Event Date(s): 
March 23, 2005 to March 25, 2005

Aspiration is organizing a track of 14 sessions and clinics on technology innovation in the nonprofit sector at the NTEN National Technology Conference in Chicago.

The NTC is the largest nonprofit tech conference and aimed at IT staff in nonprofits and the people supporting nonprofits and their IT needs. The Aspiration Innovation Track at the NTC will focus on these themes:

  1. Project/Risk Management: How to you choose software? How do you manage IT projects in your organization? How do you decide whether to build/buy/or bend? How to you manage risk?
  2. Innovation Slams: Learn about tools while having some fun! Partake in Aspiration's famous SpeedGeeks and clinics;
  3. Free and Open Source Software--cheaper, better, faster software tools and development for nonprofits? Why is open source innovative? How do you leverage f/oss for nonprofit organizations?
  4. What’s next for nonprofit technology and software innovation? What's up and coming that NPO techies should be aware of? What do we need to realize the potential of IT for our organizations?

Sessions include: Blogs and RSS, Content Management with Open Source Software, and Successful Project Management of Web Development Projects, to name just a few.

Clinics and speed geeks feature security tools, blogging, taming your website with a CMS, and using Linux in your organization.

Please contact us at info at aspirationtech dot org if you are interested in participating in this track or like to see specific topics covered in the sessions.

We and the designated session designer welcome your input, ideas, and suggestions for this series!

Asia Source Blog

Asia Source is getting underway in Bangalore and so is the blog, written mainly by Frederick Noronha. Lots of good thinking on free and open source software for NGOs and a glimpse into what will be a vibrant and lively event for community building, tech innovation, and joy of exploration of the power of free software for changing the world.

Asia Source is a week-long skill and knowledge sharing convergence that is bringing together developers and NGOs to explore free and open source software for civil society.

Asia Source is co-hosted by Tactical Tech and and facilitated by Allen Gunn of Aspiration.

Aspiration facilitated first-ever Developer Roadshow in South Africa

Event Date(s): 
December 6, 2004

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.

The homepage and wiki for the Roadshow is at here; a news report is at Tectonic: Africa's Source for Open Source News.

Penguin Day Toronto a Success

More than sixty nonprofit tech staff and open source programmers convened in Toronto on November 20th for the 4th Penguin Day worldwide. Penguin Day Toronto featured spirited discussion about how to bridge language and cultural gaps between open source developers and nonprofits, hands-on sessions on content management systems for organizations, real-life stories of nonprofits using open source tools, and another speed-geek -- a hilarious, fast-paced presentations of different software applications for non-profits.

The day resulted in tangible projects such a coalition of 'Penguin Doers' investigating building an open source client management application for social service organizations for intake and outcome measurement.

Check out the article

Localization Developers Sprint

Event Date(s): 
November 20, 2004 to November 22, 2004

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.

Penguin Days in the News: Programmers Changing the World One Line of Code at a Time

Right in time for Toronto's first Penguin Day, Canada's wire service has a story on the global movement of Penguin Days entitled 'Programmers Changing the World One Line of Code at a Time.'

Allen Gunn and Katrin Verclas of Aspiration co-conspirited the first-ever Penguin Day in Phildelphia in March 04. Since then, Penguin Days--events introducing nonprofits to open source tools and developers, and developers to nonprofit needs--have hatched in places as far-flung as London and Portland, Oregon. Similar events in San Francisco, Chicago, and Jonannesburg are being planned.

Information Technology for Development -- Open Source Issue

The October issue of I4D Online features an extensive set of articles on free and open source software in the context of development and civil society organizations in developing countries. Articles include an overview of free and open source software (foss) and why it is relevant for civil society organizations, as well as reports from Souteast Asia, Africa, and South America.

The series provides an excellent overview of issues and trends in free and open source software in the context of international development by some o

ICT and Human Rights

Event Date(s): 
November 1, 2004

Aspiration supported and facilitated this colloquium on ( 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, and the material was being used to author a human rights technology strategy paper.

APC ActionApps Developer Camp

Event Date(s): 
October 28, 2004

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.

Dot Org Media ReleasesFree and Open Source Survey

Dot Org Media with staff support from Aspiration releases a survey of free and open source tools, conducted recently with nonprofit tech and program staff. Favorite free and open source tools for nonprofits are listed. The survey also suggests other tools nonprofits like to see developed or made more usable. Survey results and tools are available at

Staff from Aspiration and Database Design Associates conducted the work.

Choosing a Content Management System: on

TechSoup has a new, excellent article out on choosing a content management system. This is article is the third of a very thorough overview of content management systems for nonprofits.

"Choosing a CMS" goes briefly over the requirement gathering process, outlines a series of otions for organizations ranging from enterprise solutions to those for small organizations; and gives an example of a decision matrix on how to choose the right system. It is a very nice overview that can get you started.

Free and Open Source Licensing Primer

This from Sunil Abraham, our colleague in India, who is working on and UNDP/IOSN guide to free and open source licencing:

The IOSN/APDIP/UNDP FOSS Licensing Primer is a brief introduction to different FOSS licenses, primarily the GNU GPL license. It presents a summary of issues involved with using the different FOSS licenses. It offers several scenarios, and proposes a framework for licensing of government sponsored software. The primer also addresses common questions and misconceptions regarding copyright and licensing issues.

Please download from here:

Open Source Social Software: Barnraiser and AroundMe

Barnraiser, a Swedish company, has developed an open source social software/project management tool called AroundMe. It looks great. Features include individual blogs, wiki, social groups, group discussions, polls, event and task tracking. The tool is multilingual and has a very impressive product road map sketched out.

Very slick.

SMS Sprint

Event Date(s): 
September 30, 2004 to October 2, 2004

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

Goin' Dynamic

Today Courtney rocked our world by helping us set up a dynamic web site with infinitely many features and all the technology needed to feed the entire planet. We are grateful.

Wireless 4 Development Conference

Event Date(s): 
September 3, 2004 to September 10, 2004

Aspiration provided facilitation and agenda design at this event, hosted by 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.

The New York Model

On Common Dreams an article on using text messaging in New York City during the RNC convention there.

VoIP Developer Sprint

Event Date(s): 
August 17, 2004 to August 19, 2004

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.

Penguin Days in the News: Penguin Day Portland

On Newsforge, an article on Penguin Day Portland:

Geeks, nonprofits parlay community at Penguin Day

"A couple of days before software movers and shakers got together to talk about changing industry with open source at OSCON, geeks and do-gooders and do-gooder geeks gathered to talk about changing the world with open source at the second Penguin Day event held in Portland last weekend.

The intent of the event, hosted by a group of Portland computer reuse raiders known as FreeGeek, was to find how nonprofits such as Multiple Sclerosis Society, Child Aid, Water Watch, and others can benefit from open source software and how the programming community and provider community can join their efforts, which are similar in ethos and economy.


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