Online event for women in India on Cultural Freedom Day

Finally, things are taking shape. We got a very few but dedicated people interested to promote FOSS among women in India. After the first two meetings we decided to have this online event where

  • we will have an online digital art competition
  • a Mediawiki hackathon
  • an event on localization.

Everything is in planning stage right now. But we want to make FOSS attractive for girls/women in India to first use it and then contribute to it. When they hear about this event or attend it, they should feel – yeah, it’s cool – I want to do this.

Have to plan some cool promotional materials for it.

There’s one big obstacle though. People, especially women in India think of FOSS as something “geeky” – not to be touched by everyone. That it is not easy to use.

If we do not address these myths, they will continue using third grade proprietary software without even trying any other alternative!

Please share your ideas/suggestions on how to make this event interesting and appealing to women in India.

In case you want to help, please join http://wfs-india.dreamwidth.org/ an participate in the irc meetings.

Online event for women in India on Cultural Freedom Day

Minutes of the first planning meeting to promote FOSS among women in India

The minutes of the first meeting to promote FOSS among women in India held on Monday 29 April 2013 at channel #wfs-india at irc.freenode.net is as follows –

We created a community at http://wfs-india.dreamwidth.org/. Please join if you are interested.

Regarding creating a new group for the cause, we noted that although there exist quite a few eg linuxchix, ubuntu women etc, some of the participants pointed out that – “one single non domain specific group sounds a better idea”, “would it not benefit if there is a group which is not confined to any specific agenda, such as linux or ubuntu”

We decided to hold promotional events in schools/colleges and for working women. We need to collaborate with other groups to organize such events.
We can have install fests, show videos, interview clips, share information about the culture in FOSS, the philosophy behind it and of course how it can help someone if she contributes to it.

A lot of interesting ideas came up –
– hosting hacker schools, organize hackathons, conferences
– having weekly gatherings and hacker spaces
– creating e-books, articles, art-works, graphic novels to attract more people and especially women into FOSS.
Such online efforts would help those women who can not come to events.
– creating a magazine covering successful women contributors in India – since there’s lack of role models in India.

The next agenda may include –
– how to organise events?
– how to get money?
– how to get volunteers?
– content of the event

We will be having our next meeting pretty soon. Please keep an eye on the link shared above.

Minutes of the first planning meeting to promote FOSS among women in India

IRC planning meeting to promote FOSS among women in India

Who should join?
If you are enthusiastic about FOSS and sometimes/always wondering why there are so few women in India contributing/working in FOSS, please do join. People in the meeting would love to hear your ideas and suggestions to include more women in FOSS
If you are a woman and think that women in software should come together to address the common issues faced by them, please do join.

What is the agenda?
None decided. This is our first meeting and we will share our views and see what can be done. Roughly the discussion might be around –

  • why and if at all do we need a group to promote FOSS among women in India,
  • how we can improve networking among women in software in India,
  • how we can unite to address common issues faced by women in technology in India,
  • how we can help each other to build skills, expertise and grow professionally and personally
  • if we can organize an event (something on the line of adacamp – (I really love the idea)) in India.
  • anything that you wish to bring up to help the cause.

When and where is the meeting taking place?
When – Monday 29 April 2013 at 9pm IST (UTC+05:30)
Where – #wfs-india at irc.freenode.net

A list of similar groups/events happening worldwide
The Ada Initiative
GRACE HOPPER
Girls in Tech London
and many more …

IRC planning meeting to promote FOSS among women in India

How to get started in FOSS

I’ve started contributing to FOSS projects since the last month and I’ve already found myself telling two newbies how to get started in FOSS. Although I love to give “gyans” and explain stuff to people, I thought here’s a good opportunity to write on this topic a post as comprehensive as my limited ability and knowledge allows me to.

Before anything, let me first tell you how I got started. I was just done with writing my mains for the UPSC Civil Services exam in October 2012 and I was thinking what to do next now that my 3 year long journey as an UPSC aspirant just got to an end. I decided to try out software again since that’s what I was doing before starting my preparation for UPSC.
Now I’ve been using Ubuntu at home since around 2007 and through out my 4 year long career I’ve worked on Linux environment. I’ve also seen and known a few open source enthusiasts and serious contributors. And husband being a little geeky-software-guy helped me to join the FOSS bandwagon easily. Quite fortuitously around that time, Gnome foundation was offering internships to women to promote women in computing and particularly FOSS. I got through. That’s enough about my history and let me now help you with what you’ve come to read at this post. How do you start contributing to the FOSS projects? Well, there are many ways –

First, get a open source OS at your home computer and get rid of that nasty little thing named after one of those things that you see in every home. Then join various Linux User Groups in your college, city or state. Many of them have IRC channels, join them as well. Lurk around in those channels. Many a times you get posts asking for volunteers.

I got to know about the following projects while applying to Gnome OPW
1. Gnome
2. Subversion
3. Wikimedia
4. Tor

There are others as well –
1. Mozilla
2. Openhatch

If you are a student you might consider Google Summer of Code

My list is not exhaustive and it can not be so because there are just so many open source projects which need contributors. I’ve shared the above list because that’s how I started. Along with the sites mentioned above, I also visited many other open source projects which I used or would have liked to use.

Therefore if you are waiting to get your hands wet in some good work or just feel that free and open source software is the right way to go to bring some equality in this otherwise unequal world, then do not wait for someone to give you work. Start browsing though FOSS projects, use them, find bugs in them and start fixing them.

And one last thing to say before I end my long post – “help will always be given at Hogwarts, for those who ask for it” – just replace Hogwarts with FOSS community. Be polite, ask around for help. Some of the folks are actually nice, you know, even though they hide behind geeky-unfathomable-nicks! 🙂

How to get started in FOSS