Purple background and drawings of lots of stars and planets and the words Libreplanet 2019

Technology was supposed to liberate us from the oppressive forces of authoritarian censorship, allow us to connect with diverse voices around the world and in general make the world a better place by building an interconnected world. It is hard to look at the current political landscape and not be cynical about the promises of the techno visionaries of the past. But there are groups of freedom fighters who still think that we can find liberation in the technology we use and that we can liberate it by freeing the technology itself from centralization and control by both governments and corporations. These are the type of people who attended the Free Software Foundation’s LibrePlanet 2019 conference held in Boston.

To give a brief introduction, the Free Software Foundation is an organization built around the four software freedoms. In their basic form, they are the freedom to use, study, share and improve the software. This manifests in a lot of ways, but at its heart the Foundation helps build a community where people care about freedom. LibrePlanet was a meeting of these people.

There were inspiring presentations from a variety of speakers, including a particularly heart-warming keynote speech by Dr. Tarek Loubani. He spoke about how he was using free software and hardware to help the people of Gaza build their own basic medical equipment, like tourniquets and stethoscopes, with 3D printers to enable autonomous production. Micky Metts, the final keynote speaker, shared the idea of “platform cooperativism” and the need for advocates to cultivate this upon a foundation of free software and solidarity economics.

Another inspiring session was a presentation from Rancho Electronico, a Mexico City-based hack space put together by a diverse group of activists, feminists and anarchists dedicated to empowering people. Other sessions focused on community management through commons governance, how to use a code of conduct to deliberate disagreements and how activists are using free software for mass cooperation including examples from the Boston branch of the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America).

If this sounds interesting, all of the sessions were recorded with free software and will be available at But nothing can compare to the inspiration of meeting people in person dedicated to a cooperative vision of a world where technology amplifies our autonomy rather than requiring us to submit control over our lives to the various techno-oligarchs.

In other geek news, Other World Ohio, an immersive reality art experience with a sci-fi dimensional travel theme is opening up sometime in the next month or so in a 32,000 square foot reclaimed shopping mall to the east of the city. I haven’t had a chance to tour it, but it looks like it should be cool. See https://otherworldohio.comfor more information.

And the beginning of May will bring the first COSI science festival from May 1 to May 4 with a ton of events around the city focused around our own Center of Science and Industry. You can check out for a list of events.

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