Explaining Free Software - good examples

Patrick Ohnewein patrick.ohnewein at lugbz.org
Fri Jul 21 15:22:01 UTC 2006

Am Donnerstag, den 20.07.2006, 21:53 +0200 schrieb Matthias Kirschner:
> Now, what do you think? Do you have good approaches which might help me? Or
> have experiences that a certain approach did not work with a
> non-programmer audience?

I think to explain the concept of Free Software to non programmers or
non technicians you don't have to show software but you have to show
people using software. You have to tell stories about non technical
problems solved thanks to the freedom provided by Free Software!

My experience telling the story of the OpenOffice.org translation
project for a local Ladin minority language (be aware it's a language
not a dialect) was very very positive. The audience understands the
problem of a language disappearing on course of glabalisation and
digitalisation of communication in the digital age. They are happy to
discover that being OpenOffice.org Free Software a translation team of
the cultural institutes was able to start the translation project
independently from decisions of a single company based on a cost
calculation for the company and not for the Ladin culture.

Also the recipe example of precooked soaps, which provoke troubles to
allergic people, used by Kurt Gramlich had a very positive impact on the
audience at the SFScon2005. People know about precooked soaps and they
know that its easy to cook them, but they know also that this goes at
the cost to be forced to eat the ingredients chosen by the producer. You
cannot change the ingredients. At the end they get the picture that
proprietary software is like precooked soaps and Free Software is like
grandmas cooking book ;-)

My recommendation, use real life stories and show people which are no
technicians, but had evident benefits out of the use and/or adoption of
Free Software.

Happy hacking!

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