5 Feb 2003 pjcabrera   » (Apprentice)

Talk loud, and carry a big stick ...

I have been promoting free software a lot in and outside of work in the past two years, and it has apparently attracted the attention of someone at the Office of Management and Budget Planning of the Government of Puerto Rico, the country where I live.

I've been asked to speak at a small conference discussing the greater use of free software in the local goverment. In typical fashion, I have only a month to prepare. I received the invitation yesterday, and the conference is scheduled for March 12 - 13.

I have never given a talk about free software to a group bigger than 6 to 8 people, and even then, I was preaching to a mostly devout choir, so to speak. The idea of standing in front of government paper pushers and showing them how free software is good for their budgets is scary (hence the title of this entry.) But the argument is an easy one to make, so I am not worried especifically about what I will say. I am worried about my delivery and effectiveness when speaking to a group so unlike myself.

With only a month to prepare, it's going to be difficult for me to drum up support from important companies in free software. I do not mean direct financial support to myself or to the conference, but support as in them bringing demo units showcasing their software, especially its Windows and Office compatibility.

Perhaps this conference should only be seen as a stepping stone, and I shouldn't worry so much about making a big impact so early in the game. After all, it seems the conference planners are mostly convinced about the financial benefits of free software, and only want to bring this information to the attention of their colleages.

I am meeting with the conference planners this week and next week as well. Perhaps we can start planning a bigger, better island-wide conference in the summer or fall. We'll see what develops.

For the next week or two, I will probably scour the web for summaries or transcriptions of similar talks and conference proceedings in the last year, to aid me in preparing my presentation. In typical free software enthusiast fashion, I plan to reuse other people's work and strengthen the stew with my own views.

If anybody has any pointers, suggestions, comments, feel free to write. You can contact me @

'echo qkdbcsfsb@qpcpy.dpn | tr b-z a-z'

PS - The tentative name of the conference is "Destiny : Linux" but I personally do not think Linux is the answer to everything, and other free operating systems should be discussed and presented as well. And the emphasis on Linux takes emphasis away from the more important point of software freedom. (Heh, maybe I shouldn't worry about getting Stallman to attend, as I see I have his gig covered. ROFL.)

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