Tag Archives: Education

Dreamfish: An Open Global Work Cooperative Creating Local Jobs



In a recent conversation with Nnenna Nwakanma, one of Africa’s leading open source experts and community lead for Dreamfish, Nnenna shared her experiences, passion and ideas on this exciting on-line community. In her own words, Dreamfish is an open and friendly community which balances software development with human interaction and best of all converts project work into jobs and real income for its members. Here is what Nnenna had to say.

Q. Tell us about your involvement with the African open source community and your experience in growing the local ecosystem.

Nnenna: My passion for openness, I was born with! So my engagement with open source is natural. In 2002, we started the Open Source Task Force for Africa. In less than 100 months, open source in Africa has grown far more than we had initially expected. I have seen the rapid growth from the Task Force to the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA). The community has grown and is no longer spreading by additions but by multiplication. I have learnt that hard work, dedication and good leadership are key to growing any ecosystem.

Q. Tell us more about Dreamfish. How does its mission of building community, using open source and creating jobs resound with local communities.

Nnenna: The Dreamfish story is a unique one. The work cooperative is built on the sheer will of its members. People who rise above their difficulties and challenges and with the help of one another, achieve ideals that even beat their dreams. People who are discovering how their work matters by contributing, who are open and collaborative on ideas, projects, dreams and ambitions. You need to read it here.

I am yet to see someone who is not interested in Dreamfish! Dreamfish is more than creating jobs. It is about building community, communication, friendship, continental ties, global knowledge base, experience sharing and life-long learning. Dreamfish members are being coached in project management, software development, leadership skills, personal management and a whole lot of other skills are monetized, within and outside the Dreamfish platform. Every member who joins gets a friend in not more than 24 hours. Dreamfish is the one place where, every time you sign in to chat, you will find a community team member there to open the door for you. Dreamfish is office, it is work, it is friendship, it is family, it is a life-long school. It accepts our present and inspires our future. Dreamfish is work for all in us that is human. Here is the community’s Humanifesto.

Q. How did you get involved with Dreamfish and how do you plan to grow its community further.

Nnenna: I am a community fish. I was looking for a community that balances software development with human interaction. I was also looking for something that has been missing for some time for me – an interface where an online community translates into project and cash for its members. I also was looking for doing lots more and traveling less. Dreamfish gave me the answers I needed – Community, Collaboration, Global Reach, Learning Opportunity, Humanifesto, and my personal dreams.

As Community Lead, I am working with the wonderful Community Team at Dreamfish. Our objectives now are to build capacity. We expect hundreds of thousands of people in no time. So, now, we want builders and leaders in enabling new open source projects to get started in empowering and human environment. We are expanding our successful Fellows Program to experienced software technologists and designers, who want to mentor open sour projects in Dreamfish and build Dreamfish. Dreamfish is recruiting developers who want to further our mission and teach others to fish.

Q. What is your message to the global community. Why would an Indian developer, a Malaysian student or a Brazilian professional join Dreamfish.

Nnenna: All three can be hired, all three are welcome to hire. But beyond work… you can actually find true friends, share experience and make your dreams come true. When we remove the ‘national’ tag, what we get is students who have learning opportunities, developers who can have enough code-writing to keep their minds challenged on a permanent basis, the professional who can meet and collaborate with others on his and their projects.

Here is what you need to do.

Let me also use this opportunity to invite you to our Global Meetups on Eventbrite. The next meetup is scheduled for July 7, 2010 3PM GMT. We will be covering a very important topic – Communicating Across Cultures. Join in at http://global-meetup-dreamfish.eventbrite.com/.

Q: How does one join Dreamfish? Do they need to lurk on a mailing list or can they participate right from the start?

Nnenna: That is the interesting part of Dreamfish. You can use Dreamfish for exactly what you want and say ‘no, thank you’ to what you don’t want. You don’t even need to join any mailing list. Feel free to sign up, walk over the chat, create a project, join a project, take a bus tour, make friends.. and if there is something you don’t like about any thing.. well you just change it! Everyone is a leader in Dreamfish. Contributors are all equal owners of the cooperative.

When you arrive, we will be there to open the door, welcome you and support your dreams. That is why we call it Dreamfish!

Thanks, Nnenna. Wish you lots of success. See you on Dreamfish.

Join the POSSE in Silicon Valley!

POSSE California

POSSE California

As the open source ecosystem grows, the need for talented developers, collaborators and open source experts has burgeoned. Increasingly, universities want to incorporate the teaching of open source technologies, techniques and business models into their curricula to meet this growth.

For the past few months I’ve been working with Red Hat’s team at TeachingOpenSource.org on open source education. As part of this effort, we’ve looked at conducting a week long camp for educators – POSSE – to teach open source development processes, tools and techniques. Professors Open Source Summer Experience, better known as POSSE, was first held in the summer of 2009.

As a board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), I’m proud to announce that OSI is supporting and helping organize POSSE in California along with Red Hat. What better place to hold the first camp on the West Coast than Silicon Valley.

We invite university, college and high-school instructors involved in teaching open source technologies, tools and software development to attend this week long camp in Mountain View, California from July 6-10, 2010. Registration is free for all instructors teaching software development in academic institutions. Seating is limited so please register as early as possible.

To register, sign up here. Attendees are responsible for their own costs for travel and accommodations. More information about POSSE California can be found here and here.

Letting Students Blog: Why India’s universities need student blogs

Education in India

Education in India

India has tens of well known, reputable universities – Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Management (IIMs), and medical colleges including AFMC and AIIMS. Tens of thousands of students from all over Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as from within India itself, apply to these institutions every year. The current admissions process is highly competitive and dryly mechanical.

Leading global universities are exploring alternative approaches. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) now allows students to blog without censorship on the university admissions website. Many other top universities like Amherst, Haverford, Vassar, Wellesley, Yale have also chosen to integrate student blogs into their official university websites.

MIT’s admissions office thinks blogging has helped humanize the process of applying to the university. It has helped students select one school over the other based on the community they feel most comfortable with. Prospective students read about shared interests, hobbies, life on campus and summer activities blogged by students already at the university.

Many of India’s universities can easily adopt the same strategy to attract top students that best fit the curricula and environments they have to offer. Integrating student experiences into their websites through student blogs is a great way to build a more healthy student community as well as to bind together the larger alumni community. Blogging can add new energy to an obsolete dog-eat-dog process of college matriculation in India.

Red Hat organizes Professors’ Open Source Camp in Singapore



Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience (POSSE), a training bootcamp targeted for faculty members of technical universities in Asia is being organized from November 9-13, 2009 at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore. Faculty members from Singapore, Malaysia, China, India are expected to participate.

The first camp was held in Raleigh, North Carolina earlier this year in July.

The goals for the camp are ambitious. A cross-section of topics focusing on development tools and techniques aims to recruit new contributors to open source projects by providing a hands-on experience to participants using Fedora as project examples.

The 5-day camp starts with an overview of open source, then dives into communication tools such as IRC, wikis and blogs to teach participants how to be effective contributors. Development topics include compiling source code, using build tools, setting up a build environment and packaging with RPM.

Testing and bug fixing are easy routes for users to become contributors. Participants walk-through the process of filing bug reports with Bugzilla as well as editing, testing and creating bug patches.

The camp is being organized by Harish Pillay, Jasmine Ee, and Alan Ho from Red Hat Singapore. Mel Chua and Greg DeKoenigsberg are mentors for the program. You can find out more about POSSE Singapore at its website.

I think this program is an excellent start in the right direction by Red Hat and its Asia Pacific (APAC) team to facilitate open source education. Engaging faculty from engineering universities is key to increasing contributions as well as growing the talent pool of engineers in emerging markets to support industry demand.

At OSCON 2009

OSCON 2009
The O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) moved down from Portland to San Jose this year. Here are some highlights of my experiences at the conference this time.

What did I like?


Why does every open source developer, entrepreneur and evangelist want to be at OSCON every year? More precisely, why do I like to be at OSCON every year :-) It’s because of the community – the community around open source. OSCON continues to be the only open source technology conference in the US where everyone can meet their friends, colleagues and fellow community members to talk technology and discuss where open source is heading. OSCON still manages to attract the combined free and open source community. There are developers, community activists, and leading technologists from local and global open source projects and organizations, all interested in leveraging open source software and in practicing collaborative innovation.

What did I find really interesting?

Open Source in Education

Anyone involved in open source advocacy today will include “open source in education” as one of their top priorities. The global message is clear – there is a shortage of talent to support open source software. It is the education systems across the world which need to produce these needed resources. A couple of talks at OSCON – ‘Educating Students in 21st Century Skills via FOSS’ and ‘New Ways for Teaching Children Software Programming’ featured experts who relayed their experiences and reviewed best practices in teaching open source technologies in high schools and universities in the US.

Open Government: Transparency = Open Source + Open Standards + Open Data

Tim O’Reilly, publisher and owner of O’Reilly Media, started the discussions on Open Government at OSCON with his keynote which highlighted efforts of the new Obama administration to promote open data and open source software for equal access to information. O’Reilly also talked about the new advocacy group – “Open Source for America” which will focus on lobbying the US government to use open source software. There were also some excellent panel discussions on open government which discussed issues of open data, transparency and the practicalities of working with government. Personally, having worked for many years on technology projects with government agencies and witnessed first-hand the fast pace at which agencies have absorbed open source technologies – it was very interesting to witness the current spike in enthusiasm among the Silicon Valley technorati to engage in public-private partnerships to work with the federal government. In the panel, ‘Open Source / Open Government’ – moderated by my colleague at the Open Source Initiative (OSI), Danese Cooper – Brian Behlendorf spoke of the sometimes frustrating effort required to work with various agencies. The panel provided valuable insight into the tough process of trying to implement open government in real organizations. The second panel on ”Bureaucrats, Technocrats and Policy Cats: How the Government is turning to Open Source, and Why’ presented Oregon state initiatives such as DemocracyLab, Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) and Open Source Digital Voting Foundation (OSDV). This panel offered a snapshot of changes that open source software has enabled in public policy, government, and education.

Digital Media, Publishing, Open Source

The age of digital media has arrived. News on paper has to co-exist with the Internet. And OSCON sessions on how paper and digital are working together using open source were well presented by New York Times (NYT) as well as by National Public Radio (NPR). David Gottfrid of the New York Times did a great session on the NYT’s goals to share their content online and their APIs for opening up their digital content – news stories, audio podcasts, blogs and opinions. Excellent material to build some great data mashups. Another interesting talk on mainstream media going online, was by Adam Martin of National Public Radio (NPR) who walked through NPR Digital’s open APIs for sharing their audio podcasts and online content. Grey areas still exist such as licensing of content for non commercial vs. commercial usage as well as their choice to not use CC licenses for content distribution. There were many questions about what non-commercial usage is. What if someone’s personal blog uses Google Ads on their site? What if someone mashes up NPR audio with their own commentary and spreads disinformation? Boundaries of usage are still unclear and being worked out by these organizations.

Social Good: Making a Change with Open Source

My friend Zaheda Bhorat organized a diverse group of projects showcasing how open standards and open source software are helping to generate social benefits today. The presenters for three different projects – Paul Rademaker from allforgood.org, Adam Lerer from Open Data Kit (an Android based system helping community healthcare workers in Kenya and Uganda) and Greg Norris of Earthster.org – talked about how their projects are using open source software, open data and open standards to make an impact in the areas of volunteering, poverty eradication, healthcare and climate change.

Technology Trends

Other sessions that I enjoyed attending included “State of Lightning Talks” hosted by Josh Berkus to get a 5 minute snapshot of active open source projects – from PGSQL, Drupal, OpenOffice to newcomers such as MariaDB, R language, and MongoDB. Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation delivered the closing keynote for the conference on Friday afternoon. It was an interesting talk about Zemlin’s projections on how Linux was fast becoming the default choice for peripheral hardware producers. Linux has helped Asian hardware vendors maintain their margins in a high volume business. These vendors use Linux for its technology as well as to avoid Microsoft license fees. He also predicted that Apple’s AppStore model was going to become pervasive with every hardware vendor having their own store to reduce fees that have to be paid to third parties. Jim offered another projection about the netbook revolution coming to the US in the next 6 months, with ATT launching a $50 netbook based VOIP service.

Three things that I felt were well done at OSCON

  • Excellent content on emerging topics: I liked the breadth and depth of new and emerging topics such as open government, climate change, social good.
  • Good expo interaction with excellent talks from companies (e.g. Intel talk on Moblin) and some excellent organizations in both the dot org and for-profit sections.
  • Snacks, healthy as well as not-so-healthy, in the expo hall sponsored for every break ;-)

Three things that I’d like to see at OSCON

  • New speakers; New topics: Fresh faces and new topics can always help invigorate a conference.
  • More participation: Attendance was estimated at about 2000 people by the organizers this year. In the vastness of the San Jose convention center, the crowds seemed smaller. Maybe lower registration fees would help in these times of recession. Lower fees could also help OSCON compete with low cost or free unconferences that are gaining in popularity.
  • More water please: All attendees would benefit from more water dispensers in the hallways and expo hall.

Looking at the Art of Community Management

The Art of Community Management (Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/)

The Art of Community Management (Credit for image: Lumaxart at www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart)

Code, collaboration and community are the pillars of open source. Every successful open source software project has an active community around it that reflects the project’s priorities and character.  Since the core concern of most open source projects is code, their communities are typically focused on developers and on producing good code.

But other areas also important.  Many open source software communities also look at tools and infrastructure to support the community’s needs as well as ways to create marketing buzz and how to grow and maintain a healthy ecosystem for users. One of the signs of a successful community is the emergence of a community manager who fits the outreach needs of the project.

In its LQ Community Manager Interview Series, LinuxQuestions.org has published a series of excellent interviews with some of the community managers of popular Linux distributions — Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora. These interviews highlight the strengths that each community manager brings to their particular project.

Here are the three interviews:

Scilab workshop for teachers at Bhaskaracharya Institute of Mathematics

Scilab workshop at BP

Scilab workshop at BP

The Bhaskaracharya Institute of Mathematics in Pune is organizing full-day workshops on Scilab specifically targeted for teachers.

This program is organized jointly by BP and IIT Bombay. Prof. Katre and Manjusha Joshi of BP have been prime movers in organizing these workshops and activists in spreading the use of open source software for mathematics analysis and research at BP.

These workshops are to be held from 4-7 July from 10am to 5pm. The targeted audience is teachers from colleges under Pune University and Mumbai University and aim to cover various aspects of Scilab, which is part of the undergraduate (BCS) syllabus.

BP has been instrumental in organizing other open source software workshops and conferences such as PLUGMash 2007 with the Pune Linux Users Group (PLUG) .

Are you ready to Ubunchu!

Ubunchu - A Ubuntu Manga Comic Book (Credit: Ubunchu)

Ubunchu - A Ubuntu Manga Comic Book (Credit: Ubunchu)

Earlier this month, Ubunchu, a comic book for Ubuntu, was published in Japanese. Ubunchu is about three students in a sysadmin club who are learning about Ubuntu. Japanese Manga artist (Mangaka) Hiroshi Seo is the creator of this comic series and his first edition has already been translated into English, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese. Translated versions can be found here.

The comic book format has become an interesting, if novel, way to popularize technology. For example, when Google released Chrome, it introduced its new browser accompanied by a wildly popular comic book. I believe this format could also help kids in middle school and high school learn about the latest technologies like Linux and open source.

Calling on our Indian language localizers… Are you ready to translate Ubunchu? Ubunchu comes with a Creative Commons license and has the SVG source available too. So it should be easy to translate and spread the word.

And here is what Hiroshi says to translators…

For translators:

  • If your are planning to translate the manga into another language,  my consent is not required,  for it is released under Creative Commons BY-NC license. Though I’d really appreciate if you let me know it when it’s done. Then I would add the link of the distribution site to the list above.
  • Both English version’s are distributed with it’s SVG sources. You will find it very easy to edit with SVG editing software like Inkscape. Thanks to DoctorMO & C-quel’s work!  When using these sources, please don’t forget to add the credit for them.

GSoC 2009 – India Participates in Global Open Source

Google Summer of Code 2009

Google Summer of Code 2009

In five years, Google’s Summer of Code program has grown open source awareness as well as built contributors on a global scale. The GSoC 2009 program has announced its list of students for this year’s projects. 1000 students from 70 countries have been selected to work with mentors on over 150 open source projects. The top 5 countries include the US with 212 students, India with 101 students, Germany with 55 students, Canada with 44 students and Brazil with 43 students. India sent in 610 applications from which 101 were selected.

One of my favorite projects Fedora has accepted two Indian students – Satya Komaragiri to work on a WYSIWYG DocBook editor for Fedora documentation and Atul Agarwal to work on an Instant Mirror for Fedora. The GNOME project has accepted one Indian student – Ishan Chattopadhyaya working on Anjuta-Python integration. Other projects with Indian students include Drupal, Eclipse, XWiki, Sahana and SugarLabs. Find out more details on the gsoc-india group.

A focused, incentive based program like GSoC attracts smart students from developing countries. It is a great way to engage budding contributors in open source software projects. But let’s not forget that programs like GSoC must be combined with sustained local efforts in order to create lasting contributors. We need to encourage and organize local activities including open source labs, curricula changes, mentoring programs, development of training material and teacher training. Then India’s participation in open source can only grow.

Ruby on Rails in Hyderabad

Twincling Technology Foundation

Twincling RoR session on March 14th

Twincling Technology Foundation is organizing a half-day “Ruby on Rails” technology session on March 14th, 2009 in Hyderabad. This session will be conducted by Technetra’s Robert Adkins, an expert developer in Ruby and Ruby on Rails and an active open source contributor.

This tech session will be an introduction and tutorial on Rails.

The session will start with an overview of the Rails system and will look at the diverse community that is making Rails so successful today. It will examine conventional Rails program structure and configuration and will cover database migrations and the three most important components: Active Record, Action Controller, and Action View. It will also discuss integration with CSS and Ajax as well as review topics such as testing, security and performance.

Check for further details about the session and registration at Twincling.