FSCONS currently stands for Free Society Conference and Nordic Sumit. While initially founded as a Free Software conference ?Scandinavia?, it has evolved into a yearly conference with a much broader scope - focusing on the interaction between culture, society and technology.
FSCONS is organized by FFKP - The Society for Free Culture and Software. Each conference has been produced by FFKP, other organizations, volunteers and sponsors.
The conference was first held in 2007 as a small but focused free software conference in Gothenburg. As the demand for follow-up conferences grew, one FSCONS conference has been arranged each fall/winter since.
2007 - First conference. Main themes touched upon (free/open) Software, with topics like web caching and proxying, Free Software licensing, How to write graphical applications, database clustering and optimization, and more but also touched upon social topics such as introducing affordable internet capable computers to developing countries, Digital Rights for consumers, Digital Rights in general, NGO - decision making, Free Software with a female touch.
2008 - The conference evolved and covered two main tracks: Free Software and Free Culture, reflecting a stronger identity of the social and cultural part. Inspiration in part by "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig.
2009 - The tracks evolved into Free Software Track and Free Society Track. Inspiration in part by "Free Software, Free Society" by Richard Stallman. Conference also included a separate track for workshops, and one track which was co-organised by other organisations.
2010 - Several themes including Embedded, Ethics, Infrastructure, Makers of the Future, Divide and Reconquer, Extensions (how FS can influence other movements in society), Free Software and Using Free Software to Fuel the Revolution. Some themes were co-organised with other individuals or organisations.
Based on the experience from our four first conferences, we have identified an evolution towards stressing FSCONS as an ongoing process, with a potential for expansion into local FSCONSs organised internationally. Also the subject of gradually introducing a new name for FSCONS has come up. These aspects are introduced in the following sections which try to map out the current thinking about FSCONS.
Core values of FSCONS
In no particular order, these are our core values:
- Speaker === Participant
FSCONS should generate new ideas. The interaction between peers is important. FSCONS is a meeting place, where discussions take place, first and foremost, but we also have presentations on important topics.
- Defusion of perceived tensions
We should defuse the relation between different stakeholders (individuals vs corporations etc). Not to say the, for progress necessary, clash of ideas should be avoided.
- Challenge people into new thinking
FSCONS should be challenging to the particpiants, and encourage new thinking. We must dare to approach and talk about new subjects.
- Respect for the Human Rights
All work carried out by FSCONS is carried out in honor of all humans' equal value and with respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.
- Openness and Participation
Our ambition is to be open and transparent in how we work, and what we do.
FSCONS makes an effort in being non-discriminatory in terms of gender, age and ethnic background or disabilities, both among staff, speakers and participants. We strive to lower the barriers for participation.
All work carried out by, at and with FSCONS should take sustainability of societies and the environment into consideration.
FSCONS actively works to make sure that our activities are accessible to everyone, regardless of visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological (or other) disabilities. This is also in line with our value of being non-discriminatory.
- FSCONS as a meetingspace
FSCONS aims to bring people together from different fields, interests and cultures, with the aim of being an enabling starting point for dialogue and new co-operations.
In line with our aim for sustainability of societies and the environment, FSCONS sees itself as a continuum of processes, dialogs and projects, rather than a one-off event once a year.
What are the main goals of FSCONS?
This section contain a list of the goals for FSCONS on an overall level, a list of approaches for how to meet those goals and an indication of the ways in which we could continuously measure and evaluate our approaches in terms of meeting the stated goals.
List of goals
These should ideally be measurable and identifiable. See section 3.3 for indications for how to measure the goals, and the next section for the specific approaches on how to reach these goals.
- 20% of the participants at each activity should be new first-time attendees
- Having a fair, within 60/40, and reasonable gender distribution among participants
- Being accessible and have low barriers for participation
- FSCONS should spark interesting discussions and co-operations
- FSCONS should equally address aspects of the following areas of interest:
- Be financially self-supporting while setting aside funds for side-events and future activities
Definitions: By "society", we include, but not limit ourselves to, integrity, privacy, freedom of speech, human rights and access to knowledge. By "culture", we include art, but also cover a broader spectrum of newer cultural expressions. "Technology" include software and hardware in an overall meaning as well as questions of infrastructure.
Approaches to accomplish the goals
- Establishing a system of local ambassadors of FSCONS.
- Helps attract new participants (including speakers, staff and volunteers)
- Establishing collaboration with organisations working with disabilities to gain insight into and methods to meet our accessability goal
- (Maybe?) Establish a system of mentors from previous participants at FSCONS who can guide new attendees at the conference
- Lower the barrier for participation, might also contribute to meeting the accessability goal.
- Allowing for discussions and informal talks during the social events
- Opens up to interesting discussions and co-operations
- Being open to contributions (this should be made more concrete: HOW are we open to contributors?):
- If you are an individual wanting to help out organizing and implementing FSCONS, you are welcome to contact us and part-take in our work.
- If you represent a corporation or company, you may very well view an FSCONS sponsorship as a way to build your trademark. For companies to send employees or co-workers to FSCONS could be incorporated into a training program. FSCONS is also a great space to meet competent co-workers-to-be, and also a place where to actively take part in the ongoing discussion on how technology interacts with societies and more.
- If you represent a government body, a government organization or an NGO, what better place than FSCONS to present an ongoing project or reform, than FSCONS? Meet and involve engaged and interested people, and get inspiration from other projects and organizations.
- Setting up a team dedicated to working with sponsors of FSCONS
- Receiving help and fundings through an active sponsorship of FSCONS, is a great way for FSCONS to meet its goals in terms of financing and staffing, but also a great way for sponsors to both promote their projects, getting feedback and inspiration to them, and expand and connect them with other projects, as well as involving people and organizations into the work.
We need a revised awareness of gender perspectives. What good quantitative approaches could be established in order to meet the goal of having a reasonable and fair gender distribution among the participants?
Ways of measuring the goals
- A constant review of the gender distribution over the years. We need much more than counting heads based on gender division. Eg definitions above and goals based on those. A strategy to reach our vision to improve more rapidly for the conference as a whole not just for selected themes as I recall.
- A constant review of what percentage are returning visitors
- A feedback mechanism for keeping track of what projects, and what discussions continue after FSCONS
- Financial follow-up and budget reviews to measure the financial goals.