Communicating the benefits of Free Software with children (was: CodeWeek.EU - call for participation)

Guido Arnold guido at
Wed Oct 1 00:23:05 UTC 2014

Hello Daniel,

On Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 09:39:33AM +0200, Daniel Pocock wrote:
> Stereotypes aside, are there any recommendations about how to
> communicate with children about the benefits of Free Software?

I usually use the recipe analogy to explain Free Software to children
which works pretty well as far as I can tell. 

- You are not restricted to make 'eatable' stuff -> e.g. salt dough,
  cucumber mask, etc.
- If you have the recipe instead of (just) the end product, you can
  learn a lot from it. 
- If your guests liked the food, you are free to hand the recipe to
  them if you wish. 
- If you don't like basil, you can leave it out or substitute it with
  something else like parsley.

And after the four freedoms, the analogy can go on:

You don't like to cook? Fine, hand the recipe to your personal chef de
cuisine (usually a parent ;) ). 

Do you really want to eat canned food every day?

How do you know what's really in the can?

Sometimes I also point out to them that their parents probably tell
them that they need to learn to share (their candy with others or
whatnot) and that sharing is a good thing. Proprietary software
prohibits this. 

And then I point out that with FS they _may_ share, but they don't
have to. At this point I hope they realize that _they_ are in charge:
Proprietary software prohibits sharing; parents demand sharing; FS gives
_them_ the choice -> empowers them.

And speaking of empowering: I made the experience that 'moving parts'
get them really excited. It doesn't have to be robots or drones, a
simple "eject" on the command line may make them freak out already,
especially when they do it per ssh on a remote machine (preferably in
the same room so they can see it). 

As soon as they realize that their "commands" can change the physical
world (anywhere), they feel that they can do whatever they want (which
is true in a sense).

I love to see this excitement and am looking forward to more tips on
how to teach FS to children here!



Guido Arnold                       Free Software Foundation Europe    []           Edu team & German team
OpenPGP Key-ID:  0x51628D75  [][][]                    Get active!
XMPP: guido at    ||
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