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Open source curriculum at Idea Fab Labs

Recently I’ve begun volunteering at Idea Fab Labs here in Santa Cruz, with two specific goals — expanding the space to include free/open source software ethos and hacking, and helping all these awesome makers with questions and reality around the open source way.

Tip — I got quite fired-up to do this from Ruth Suehle’s keynote at SCALE this year, so go watch that if you need any reason why you should be helping maker spaces and friends with your open sourcery.

On the first goal, I’m working up a space in the fab labs — similar to the 3D printing, CNC router, laser cutter, jewelry zone, electronics, etc. spaces — goal is to have a place to drop in and do real software hacking; teach others from the bottom all the way up on how and why to contribute; or, yeah, even freaking care about open source software.

Tip — if you live in the 21st century and care about the progress of technology, you should freaking care.

One of my many strategic plans is to launch a curriculum that we deliver 1x to 2x a month (year one), growing toward 2x to 4x a month (i.e., every week maybe!)

What do you think of these topic ideas as a way to introduce free/open source software to a local community that is technical, maker-oriented, but full of questions?

  • “What is open source?” — Basic explanation of what free/open source software is for all audiences.
  • “How do I fix this open source thing?” — You are using free/open source software in some way and have discovered something you wish to fix, report, or comment on, but … how do you do that? 1 hour class covers basics in 15 minutes, then dives in to two or three specific projects as examples.
  • “What are open source alternatives to My Favorite Software?” — You have some reason you MUST use N software from M vendor, but maybe something else will work as well?
  • “How do I use X open source software to accomplish Y?” — You want to learn how a specific tool such as GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, Krita, LibreOffice (OpenOffice), etc., might work for your need.
  • “Open source and your business – practical answers to practical questions” — You are wondering how people make money on this ‘free’ stuff. AKA, no-cost does not mean no-money.
  • “Avoiding open washing — following the open source way beyond software” — Open movements are everywhere, but are they all equal and give the same essential freedoms as free/open source software?
  • “How do I start an open source-like contribution community?” — You are ready to start a project of some kind, such as software but maybe maker-CAD-files or farm equipment or whatever. Practical step-by-step guide to be successful.

Thanks for your thoughts, my local peeps in Santa Cruz will really benefit. 🙂 Of course, all materials I write will be released under a Creative Commons license as part of The Open Source Way.