Libre Knowledge Communities

I’m not an official volunteer or anything but since its early days I’ve been following the progress of the Free Knowledge Communities initiative, I’ve followed the guidelines for developing resources and pretty much tried to use all the documents as guidelines for how to participate. Here’s the Free Knowledge Communities Homepage.
Here’s the Wikibook on Free Knowledge Communities and FLOSS in Education.

The first thing to do is visit this page , download all the documents and read them.

What is free knowledge?

Free knowledge implies freedom to read, listen to, watch, or otherwise experience explicit knowledge1 to learn from, copy, adapt and use it for any purpose; contribute new insights and share these for the common good; and all of this with free software2.

A draft manifesto for free knowledge communities

Free knowledge communities value:

  • the members and the diverse perspectives they bring,
  • the knowledge with which they work, and the freedom to share it,
  • the community’s ability to collaborate on managing the quality of its shared resources (e.g. through peer review and collaborative knowledge generation),
  • the freedom to express and use this knowledge responsibly, and
  • the opportunity the free knowledge approach offers for networked communities to make a difference collectively, towards a sustainable world.



Librivox is a digital library of free public domain audio books, read by volunteers. The project started in August 2005, and as of July 2006 has a catalog of about one hundred full length, unabridged books, and numerous shorter works. LibriVox recordings are primarily in English, however other languages are also available, including German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Finnish, Latin and Old English.

LibriVox Homepage.

Making an impact in Public Education

At the secondary school I’ve been pushing fairly hard to introduce libre software, libre content and libre learning resources, today I distributed a couple of copies of Elephants Dream, it looks like it will be added to the library system for loan. I ended up installing mplayer/mencoder for windows to create a VCD/SVCD/DVD video. Here the contents of the batch file, you can also just download the DVD from the site.

mencoder ElephantsDream_1024.avi -oac lavc -ovc lavc -of mpeg -mpegopts format=dvd -vf scale=720:576, harddup -srate 48000 -af lavcresample=48000 -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg2video:vrc_buf_size=1835:vrc_maxrate=9800:vbitrate=5000:keyint=15:acodec=ac3: abitrate=192:aspect=16/9 -ofps 25 -o Elephants_Dream.mpg

Most people would probably prefer to use a gui, on Ubuntu I just right click the file and select convert so maybe someone can suggest an easy way to do the same thing for windows users.

I was talking with school staff about the freedom toaster all day and what its going to take to get one in the library. It turns out the school has a store room with roughly 30-50 old computers, mainly pentium 2 and pentium 3’s so I could use one of them, its just a matter of selling the project successfully to the IT HOD.
I also met a really open minded english teacher and shared my knowledge of all things libre, and recent events. He was really supportive and even suggesting to the other library staff member that we should be getting right into all the things I was mentioning.

Apart from wages, copyright is the highest cost in public education so its important to focus on libre knowledge resources for now. So lets take a quick look at the Libre content defintion.

  • the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  • the freedom to redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  • the freedom to make improvements or other changes, and to release modified copies

These freedoms should be universally available to absolutely anyone, anywhere. To the extent possible, they should not be restricted by the context in which the work is used.

When we listen to RadioTux Interview Wikimania 2005 we learn:

Wikipedia is the second example of the success of freedom in the development of useful practical works… Free Software was the first success… — Richard Stallman

Home networks

My GIMP skills are improving.

Here’s my home network, at the moment one of my projects is using a recycled computer as a Freedom Toaster. Hopefully it will be used in a community or school project with your help. Most of my work is using old/recycled computers, I hope one day that will change.

Home Network

Here’s my old home network.

5 Boxing

The Promise of Wisdom

I was wandering around used book stores and ended up buying a book called “The Promise of Wisdom” by J.Glenn Gray. I’m not sure if its any good. I’ll ask the teachers if any of them has read it. Here’s a quote from the title page of part 3 “Philosophical Problems of Practice”.

“The genuine teacher is only superior to the students in that he has far more to learn than they, namely to let learning occur. The teacher must be capable of being more teachable than his students. The teacher is far less sure of his task than the students are of theirs. Hence in the relationship of teacher and learner, if this relationship is a genuine one, it is never a question of the authority of the great knower or the dominating influence of the instructor. Therefore it is a great thing to become a teacher, something quite different than to be a famous professor.” – Martin Heidegger

The book uses words like “mankind” and the “free man” and as above you can notice that for some reason the teacher is “he”, so its a bit old school but I think theres some good info in there.

Moving around and new changes

Moving is a bit of a hassle. I’m still looking for somewhere a bit more permanent but this gives me a chance to sort through all my junk. I’m not sure I’ll bother hooking up the net till my next move. I’ll probably just visit this internet cafe down at West End. West End is adjacent to the suburbs of South Brisbane and Highgate Hill. Its an interesting area.

I’ve been volunteering 2 days a week at a public secondary school, I’ve worked for education Queensland before though this time I’m not really the IT guy, I’m working in the library, I’m a quick learner and have been trying to be as helpful as I can. By the second day I was left in charge of the library, sure it was only for half an hour but at least I knew what I was doing. At the school they use Citrix thin clients so I’m hoping it may be easy to setup an Edubuntu LTS. I’m not going to write much about the school for now, though there are a few interesting stories I would like to share.

There was an interesting situation where a class was using the computers in the library and I was doing some work near the group and the usual thing happened where one student does the work and the rest say email it to me and I’ll change it a bit. It got to the point where one of them was worried and asked me if I was a teacher, I told him I wasn’t and we had a little chat about cheating and why the days of cheating at school are over, in the end I showed him Wikimedia and tried to make some inspirational comments about knowledge amplification.

The other interesting thing was the library has laptops they can loan out, it took some convincing but in the end I was allowed to boot the Ubuntu live CD. Apparently they had heaps of problems with the wireless connection for the laptop and it took months to get it to work but as I showed him we dont have that problem with Ubuntu. Everything just works. He was impressed by that which was good considerring how much effort it took to be allowed to show him.

Tinkering with Blogger blogs and Mediawiki

I modified the tango theme for media wiki and tidied up the Superuser Wiki. Check it out, I really like how it looks but it still needs a bit of work. Here’s the banner.

Superuser Wiki logo

I was tinkering with my Blogger blog for some ACE 2.0 teachers and check out what I came up with. I also setup but I havent posted on it yet.

Gotta watch this video called The Future is Open.


FSF T-ShirtInbetween looking for work, my volunteer work and moving house I’m not sure how often I’ll be online over the coming weeks. I might use the chance to unplug for a while, I’m not sure about my plans yet so if you want to volunteer to keep the blog moving along then please do but be quick 🙂

That shirt looks so old and faded. Here’s a pic of my mate Mike, you probably have to visit the blog and check out the shoutbox to see why its funny. HAHA cop that Mike. The best things in life are GNU.

Take care everyone. Happy Learning. Mike loves GNU