This page is part of a series of interviews with FSFE supporters and friends to help give a face to our community. Get an overview about our interviews on the testimonials page
"My name is Erik Grun. I am studying Economics in Berlin and I have been an active member of the FSFE for almost four years now. My interest in Free Software came from a rather practical standpoint. I wanted to learn programming and one way to do this, is by working on an already existing software. If it is under a Free Licence, you can start by reading and understanding its source code and if you publish your changes, people can take a look at them and give you feedback. Nowadays my motivation has shifted to the more political and philosophical reasons. For me Free Software is something that can‘t be argued with – like the freedom of speech or freedom of movement. Denying someone the freedoms of Free Software is denying them their basic rights."
Short Interview with Erik Grun (2019)
FSFE: What made you interested in the FSFE and motivated to become a supporter?
Erik Grun: Well, the Free Software Foundation was overseas and so far away and I wanted to help promoting Free Software here in my home town in Berlin. Luckily there already was a local Fellowship group, that was meeting regularily and they also wanted to bring Free Software and its values into schools. So I started volunteering as part of that group.
By supporting FSFE you engage as a volunteer. What are you doing for FSFE?
I am currently the coordinator of the local group in Berlin and I am a part of our education team. This means that my tasks mainly involve organising our local Fellowship meetings and spreading the word at events by helping out at booths, but also very importantly helping to promote our campaigns on the local level by talking to and meeting with people from other organisations, politicians and so on.
What is the most fun part about engaging for FSFE?
Convincing people, who work in the public sector about why they should support Free Software is definitely fun, but helping with booths is the most fun. In Berlin we have many different events, which cover even more diverse topics that often seem to have no connection to Free Software at all. Convincing the people at these events that they also need Free Software can sometimes be quite a challenge, because you always have to adapt to the event you are visiting, but that’s also what makes it the most fun part.
What is your favourite FSFE campaign at the moment?
Of course it is “Public Money? Public Code!“, because many of the arguments, that are used in that campaign, also apply for the educational sector. The most obvious one probably beeing, that schools and universities (like public administrations) are getting also paid by tax payers money, so they should also use Free Software. They also (like public administrations) should avoid vendor lock-ins by using software with Free Licences. Apart from that I think that “Free Your Android!” is also very important, because almost everyone owns a smart device today and these still come pre-installed with a lot of nasty non-free software. So, by installing F-Droid (and replacing Android with a more Free operating system like „LineageOS“), we can easily show people what Software Freedom can look like and hopefully more people realise the advantages it gives them.
As the local coordinator, do you think Berlin is an attractive spot for Free Software enthusiasts?
Definitely! In Berlin there are so many different communities that are using and promoting Free Software. There is even a page, lug.berlin, that tries to give an overview of all the local user groups that are meeting and hacking together in and around Berlin.
You mentioned being a part of the education team; what activities do you undertake in this role?
As the FSFE group in Berlin one of our main goals is bringing Free Software and its concepts into schools. That's why we are talking to teachers, so that they can pass their knowledge on to the children and that's why we are trying to convince our decision makers about the inalienability of Free Software for equal educational chances.
In one sentence: What is the biggest benefit of Free Software?
Nowadays technology plays a key role in our lives and as Free Software means having control over technology it means having more self-determination in our own lives.
What is your favourite Free Software?
As there is so much great Free Software out there, it is quite difficult for me to answer, but I think on smart devices you should definitely try out apps like "Conversations", "NewPipe" and "Transportr". In general, I really like Nextcloud, because it has some really nice killer features.
Is there anything you believe the FSFE should improve or begin working on next? Any wishes for the future?
I think the FSFE should put more effort into bringing Free Software and its concepts and values into schools, universities and the like. If we can get children to use Free Software and teach them reasons why they should do so, they will not only start to value the freedom it gives to them, but they will also become politicians, programmers, designers, decision makers and so on, who can help us in transforming to a Free Software society. So, in the end it would really help us in taking a day or two off. ;-)