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20 Years FSFE: Interviewing past interns

опубликовано:

In the final publication about 20 Years FSFE, we want to thank everyone who has worked for the organisation in an internship position. We contacted eight former interns and asked them about their time at the FSFE and their current involvement with Free Software.

Picture with 8 people

These interviews are only a glimpse of the many people who have helped shaping the FSFE with their contributions in an internship position. An internship in the FSFE can be an intensive yet enriching experience. It familiarises people with the use of Free Software and it helps them networking with the Free Software community. We have asked eight of our former interns about their time at the FSFE and how they are doing today: Diego, George, Lucile, Lyudmila, Martin, Matti, Polina, Stian.

Diego Naranjo is the head of policy in the European Digital Rights (EDRi) organisation.

George Brooke-Smith focuses on Risk Management in the KPMG company.

Lucile Falgueyrac is a Parliamentary assistant in the European Parliament.

Lyudmila Vaseva is a software developer at ctrl.alt.coop eG.

Martin Husovec is an assistant professor and academic specialising in IP law at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Matti Lammi is a System Specialist at ETLA Economic Research.

Polina Malaja is a Policy Director in the CENTR organisation.

Stian Rødven-Eide is a Doctoral researcher in computational linguistics at the University of Gothenburg.

Looking back, what did the FSFE inters learn during their internship?

  • picture of Diego

    Diego

    From this internship I gained more insight into how the Free Software community organises, how to organise campaigns and workshops, and how to deal with legal issues related to Free Software.

  • picture of George

    George

    It was more about who the Free Software community was for me. I got to know a great group of people from all over the world. I won't forget that. Doing an internship at the FSFE makes you more competent to tackle IT collaboratively. And moreover the four software freedoms (use, study, improve, and share) can be applied in all walks of business. In this way, I have felt it was fundamentally helpful.

  • picture of Lucile

    Lucile

    During my internship I learned much about how Free Software is made and used. I came for the policy and political relevance to resist mass surveillance, and learned much about technology and infrastructure. I learned a lot about campaigning and community organising during my internship at the FSFE.

  • picture of Lyudmila

    Lyudmila

    My first conscious contact with Free Software was some 14 years ago. It was my second semester at uni and a friend wouldn't stop bugging me to install Ubuntu on my laptop, because it was, you know, "cool for political reasons". At the end, we spent an evening with the institute's Linux user group since back in the day stuff mostly didn't just work and the sound and wireless cards needed some extra persuasion. I eventually stopped booting up the windows entirely and up to this day cannot begin to fathom how one does software development or network stuff on a windows machine. (Although I've heard, that's bettered in recent years.)

    With time, I grew more aware about political issues surrounding software and computers, about privacy, security, re-usability and community. I then gradually started advocating for the usage of Free Software myself (because it was cool for political reasons), and was hence delighted when the opportunity presented itself to intern with the FSFE for a while. There, I got to know some wonderful people and had the chance to do important political work with like-minded folks.

  • picture of Martin

    Martin

    My internship at FSFE was a very pleasant experience. I just came out of law school, hungry for some technology law experience in Germany. And I landed in Berlin in 2011. What could go wrong? Intellectually, what stuck with me the most was how differently Free Software activists thought about the world of legal rules. For a fresh graduate of law, rules were set by someone else. TRIPS Agreement was an unchangeable fact. The vocabulary was not a choice. Not for these activists. Throughout my internship, I better understood why and how concepts and labels drive political outcomes. I learned to appreciate what civil society does for legal change and how much work and discipline this requires.

  • picture of Matti

    Matti

    To my surprise, the FSFE had much fewer staff members at the Berlin office than I had expected. Yet, they have done a lot for software freedom over the years. This shows what dedication can achieve. A good lesson for all of us.

  • picture of Polina

    Polina

    Free Software is so much more than a software licence or publicly available source code. It is a social movement and a community that strives for more equal and just society. After completing my internship at the FSFE, I continued my path in the FSFE as an employee, leading its both legal and policy areas. My time in the FSFE contributed immensely for my professional and personal growth, setting my course on the topics and areas I am involved in my current professional environment outside of the FSFE i.e. EU digital policies and regulation.

  • picture of Stian

    Stian

    My first and main task as an intern for the FSFE was to organise FSCONS. After my internship ended, I continued being involved with the conference for eight more years. The principles of Free Software resonates with a lot of modern philosophy and can be applied to almost anything. This has guided my life and my personal philosophy since, especially the idea that with cooperation and sharing, everyone will be better off, than with competition and secrecy.

    Following my internship, I started a Free Software cooperative along with like minded friends, offering consultancy and support for organisations that wish to transition from proprietary software. While I like to think that we did manage to achieve some good during the four years the cooperative existed, we probably learned more than anything about the many obstacles that remain for Free Software to become ubiquitous. It became clear that we need to promote Free Software on many fronts, politically and practically, and how vital organisations like the FSFE are to this.

Are former interns still active in software freedom?

  • picture of Diego

    Diego

    Free software is an every day topic for EDRi. On a practical level, we use as much Free Software as we can (operative systems, server applications, apps on our phones…). Furthermore, we advocate for Free Software whenever a European legislative file we follow involves the use of software. We referred to the public money, public code campaign in several occasions and that framing is still an important part for EDRi’s framing our technology and the role of public infrastructures.

  • picture of George

    George

    My involvement is to donate now and then, and to raise the issue with friends and family. I haven't done much volunteering since the internship. I'd have to get good permission from my employer to do that. (So fingers crossed).

  • picture of Lucile

    Lucile

    I use Free Software personally but not professionally. I do get a Free Software link when we discuss bigger political questions about privacy or strategic independence - I know that without independent technology and infrastructures it is impossible to reach.

  • picture of Lyudmila

    Lyudmila

    Since I'm a software developer, Free Software is an important part of my day-to-day work — any developer's job would look quite differently and be a great deal more tedious if we weren't able to rely on the myriad of FLOSS libraries, tools and frameworks out there.

  • picture of Martin

    Martin

    Since I teach and research intellectual property and technology law, one could say I remain somewhat involved in the Free Software issues. I do not think of myself as a hard-core expert on Free Software licensing, but I continue to research many issues of the digital ecosystem that are relevant to the FSFE’s mission. I still benefit from the broader technological outlook that I was introduced to at the FSFE.

  • picture of Matti

    Matti

    When choosing software, we lean towards Free Software solutions by default. Often, we end up choosing a free solution unless specifically requested otherwise by the upper management or business needs.

  • picture of Polina

    Polina

    After my time in the FSFE, I still strongly stand for the values of Free Software, continuing as a volunteer in the FSFE CARE Team, the European Core Team and the General Assembly.

  • picture of Stian

    Stian

    At my department at the University of Gothenburg, we publish all code, and most data, under a free licence. Researchers in our field are usually quite knowledgeable about Free Software, as we need to know exactly what a program does to the data and be able to share and improve it in order to reproduce and further the research.

    Outside of work, my volunteering efforts are these days limited to the democratic e-mail association Fripost.org. It started out as a project of our local FSFE chapter ten years ago, but has since evolved into its own organisation. In addition to running an e-mail service for our members, we have had many outreach programs and community events centred around Free Software.

What do former FSFE interns wish for the future of the FSFE?

  • picture of Diego

    Diego

    I would love two things. First, I would love the FSFE to go beyond software and embrace issues related to hardware, infrastructure and generally digital sovereignty. We need a European federation that takes a holistic approach to how technology should be a tool for fundamental rights, and focusing only on software leaves out many of the fundamental questions we’re facing today such as the power of Big Tech, surveillance capitalism, mass surveillance, surveillance-based advertising and planned obsolescence of our devices.

    Second, I would love the FSFE to become even more involved in EU policies. For example, the FSFE has been involved in issues related to artificial intelligence where the FSFE expertise has been very valuable. We need more of this knowledge-sharing between the FSFE and EDRi and make more connections between Brussels and FSFE chapters.

  • picture of George

    George

    The FSFE is inclusive and puts the learning perspective at the heart of its mission. So I hope it thrives for many years to come, inspiring people like it inspired me. GNUtopia here we come!

  • picture of Lucile

    Lucile

    Continue linking tech, policy and ethics, and outreaching to people who are not IT professionals.

  • picture of Lyudmila

    Lyudmila

    I wish the FSFE to keep up the good work, keep spreading the word of the advantages of Free Software, and keep pushing for more just regulations on political level such as the Public Money? Public Code! campaign.

  • picture of Martin

    Martin

    I wish the FSFE many bright young people who will be attracted to its vision. On many levels, we are currently designing our digital future. Having the FSFE’s voice when building its infrastructure, will be critical.

  • picture of Matti

    Matti

    Keep advocating for software freedom especially at EU level and public sector. Institutional changes can and must be achieved.

  • picture of Polina

    Polina

    I wish the FSFE to continue to be the voice of Free Software users in Europe and beyond. Free Software stands on the shoulders of all the great people being part of a social movement that should not forget about its heroes.

    I wish the FSFE to be strongly rooted in its beginnings but at the same time to not be afraid of change and developments of a fast-paced digital society. Free Software has become a critical part of both business and end-user experience in every day life. It is no longer an “alternative” solution but a standard empowering our society today.

    However, have we achieved a more just society as a result of more wide-spread adoption of Free Software? Is this the end-goal of the movement to retain the status quo and not to bother about wider ethical issues? Or should we as citizens and contributors of the movement that rose out of a need for more freedom strive for a better and more sustainable future, where Free Software is just a part of a puzzle? I think we should be asking ourselves these questions and seek answers that may help us in bridging the gaps between Free Software and how the ‘four freedoms’ can support fundamental rights. As a civil society actor, I hope the FSFE will be in the lead here for many years to come, including on the side of potential regulatory change in Europe.

  • picture of Stian

    Stian

    I wish for the FSFE to finally cease operations. That is, to say “Our work here is done. All software is now free. Let’s go celebrate!”

Thank you!

Thanks Diego, George, Lucile, Lyudmila, Martin, Matti, Polina, Stian, and all FSFE interns during these 20 years. Everyone who uses and develops Free Software, everyone who researches and advocates for Free-Software-related issues, everyone who donates and volunteers in the FSFE, is irreplaceable and takes software freedom a step further.

With this article we conclude the celebrations for the twenty years since the founding of the FSFE in 2001. 20 years FSFE was an opportunity to thank everyone who has helped the organisation since the beginning. You might also be interested in the interviews with the founder of the organisation, Georg Greve, the former Financial Officer Reinhard Müller, the founder of the FSF Latin America Fernanda Weiden, or the creator of the Free Your Android campaign Torsten Grote.