Here's an interesting conversation going on between the borderlands
Hacklab ( http://sdhacklab.org ) in San Diego and the editors of
BoingBoing.net . Basically, the borderlands hacklab proposed a freEtech
conference the day before Etech, with some critiques of the Etech
conference. You can read that announcement here:


Then they proposed it to BoingBoing.net as a story, since they've had a
ton of stries about Etech and one of the main editors of BoingBoing is
also one of the main organizers of Etech. So that editor replied to say
that he's not posting it on BoingBoing.net because it is so critical of
O'Reilly publishing. His reply is below and then a member of the
borderlands Hacklab replied to answer some of that editor's questions,
which is what follows.

Also interesting, the BoingBoing editor chose to reply with a private
email instead of posting his concerns on the wiki.



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [sdhacklab] Re: [BB] (0) freEtech 2007, an (un)conference, san
diego, March 25th
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2007 01:49:34 -0800
From: Micha Cárdenas <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: Cory Doctorow <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>,  sdhacklab
<[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, matthew riederer <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
References: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

Hi Cory,

Thanks for replying. Its great to hear from someone involved with the
process of planning Etech in response to our little effort.

First off I would say, what about the democratic value of dissent? You
seem to value democracy, being one of the main people behind the
Democracy net tv project. Don't you think that dissenting opinions are
an important part of the process of creating feedback loops that result
in change, and that allowing space for dissent is a critical part of
democracy? If you do think so, I'd think that you should post our
conference on BoingBoing.net to help us create a broader dialog about
the cost of tech conferences and the issues of inclusion and
representation in tech culture.

Also, I would say that you have a good question. Are we trying to say
that what you are doing is inherently immoral? I'm not. I'm trying to
say that a $1500 conference is contrary to the values of openness,
community, free software and respecting your users that O'Reilly uses to
promote the conference. So, that seems hypocritical, and hyopcracy can
be interpreted as immoral. Do you see a contradiction there?

As for your last question, "are you running a pro-Free-Software
conference, or an anti-capitalism conference?", I would say that we're
running a pro-free-software conference. One of the main values of the
Free Software movement is the freedom to reuse and tinker. Well, I feel
that freedom is inhibited by the lack of technological education of
women, queers and people of color which is created by sometimes subtle
processes of exclusion. When I was a debian developer, I remember the
strong resistance put up against the Debian Women group. From their
website "We seek to balance and diversify the Debian Project by actively
engaging with interested women and encouraging them to become more
involved with Debian." You can see our project in that vein. Since there
is no visible Debian Queers project or Debian People of Color of
project, I can't refer to them. For more info on that topic, see "Is
DEBIAN a MALE Chauvinist Pig? ;)" http://www.mepis.org/node/1932 , but
there are lots of other women, queers and people of color writing about
the pracitces of exclusion in techno culture. The book Domain Errors has
a great essay by Michelle M. Wright entitled "Racism, Technology, and
The Limits of Western Knowledge"
(http://www.autonomedia.org/domainerrors/). That book was edited by the
subRosa collective which has done amazing work in the field of
cyberfeminism (http://www.cyberfeminism.net/).

It is a frequently made conjecture that open source values are
anti-capitalist. While I think that is often true, in my interview with
Richard Stallman, he points out that he is not anti-capitalist, but
anti-fascist. He points out Moussolini's statement that fascism is the
unity of corporations and government. Still, he said that the practice
of free software development is not tied to any ideology, other than the
values of Free Software, as is evidenced by the many military developers
of Free Software and the common corporate and military usage of Free

You can find that interview linked from here:

But since is it hard to find financial support for independent media
projects that are perceived as "anti-capitalist", the host that the ogg
files is on, radio.indymedia.org is currently down.

You obviously have the privilege of writing off our critiques of techno
culture, ignoring them, not reading this email and not posting about it
on your blog. You can perceive me as a disgruntled programmer or the
techno-tranny-slut that I am and use that as a justification to put our
critiques aside in your brain as outside of your concerns or outside the
concerns of "most people", whoever that may be. But the reality is that
I worked in the software industry for years, have been using and
developing (less developing than using) free software for years and I
went to Etech last year.

The most disturbing thing to me at the conference was the repeated use
of the term "everybody", conflating everyone on the net with everyone in
the world. Dyson talked about google as the Mind of God. The speaker
from Technorati said that their dynamic viewer for tags "lets you see
what everyone is talking about today". It is clear to me that the
ethnocentricity of techno culture of alive and well and deeply embedded
in practices and language. I personally believe that it is important to
examine how we reproduce racism, sexism, homophobia and a long list of
other oppressions in our daily lives, and having a $1500 conference is
one way of doing that, in the United States, where economic status is
closely tied to social acceptance along lines of race and gender.

Thinking about the ideas behind Free Software and Creative Commons, how
much would oreilly lose if the conference was cheaper, or free? How many
more people would go if it was free? What if, in a bureaucratic gesture
to deflect criticism, it was free to university students, or to people
who live in San Diego? What would O'Reilly lose in that case? As someone
who cares about democracy and technology and who lives in San Diego, I'm
getting together with some of my friends to try to make our own free
tech conference in the hopes that some of the Etech attendees will want
to share their knowledge in a free space, free as in beer and free as in
freedom. Maybe no one will come. Maybe no one will hear about it. Maybe
no one from San Diego will come. But in the spirit of "release early,
release often", we're putting this idea out to the world in the hope of
creating a different kind of culture around technology, one not
dominated by profit, but dominated by the real desire to create and
foster community.

Sorry for the long winded email. This is obviously something I care
about. Hope you had the time to read at least part of it, in this
information economy where particular people's attention is so highly

thanks again,


Cory Doctorow wrote:
> I was interested in posting this until I saw that it was a total slam
> against O'Reilly, and not an effort to provide an adjunct activity. Your
> critique seems to consist of, "O'Reilly is a business making money." I
> just don't think that's a valid critique -- will all profit-motivated
> activities be excluded from your un-conference?
> O'Reilly does lots of things at lots of price-points, including free.
> For example, they funded the creation of both Movable Type and Blogger,
> released tons of material under CC licenses and PD licenses and FLOSS
> licenses, podcast the lectures and seminars at their conferences,
> offered scholarships to students and hackers, mounted free invitational
> "foo camps" and promoted the alternative bar camps that they inspired.
> In past years, un-conferences have been thrown before/after O'Reilly
> cons with the happy support of O'Reilly -- events where speakers and
> attendees who'd come to ETECH based on its drawing power could
> recapitulate their own presentations -- for example, ConCon in San
> Francisco and Emerging Man in San Jose.
> The price-point of Etech reflects what it costs to run that kind of
> conference in that kind of space. Unconferences are great too, and they
> reflect the cost of mounting their kind of conference. ISTM that you're
> saying that no one should be allowed to mount the kind of conference
> that O'Reilly puts on, just the kind of conference you're putting on --
> that the former is immoral ("All of the values of the Free Software
> movement are totally violated by O’Reilly publishing’s conferences.")
> Are you running a pro-Free-Software conference, or an anti-capitalism
> conference?
> Cory
> micha wrote:
>> --------------------------begin submit---
>> email_name:
>> micha
>> email_from:
>> from_url:
>> http://sdhacklab.org
>> subject:
>> freEtech 2007, an (un)conference, san diego, March 25th
>> suggested_url:
>> http://publish.sandiego.indymedia.org/wiki/sdshacklab/show/FreeTechUnconference
>> description:
>> Hola, I'm working with some folks in San Diego who are proposing to set up a 
>> free (un)conference space the day before etech begins in san diego. If 
>> there's interest and people sign-up, we'll get the space the net connection 
>> and the power. It wouldn't be much fun by ourselves, so please help us get 
>> the word out! Here's the announcement about the event:
>> http://publish.sandiego.indymedia.org/wiki/sdshacklab/show/FreeTechUnconference
>> also posted here:
>> http://deletetheborder.org/lotu5
>> ----------------------------end submit---
>> time: 2 m   chars: 664   wpm: 52 (527,19)
>> -----------------------------------------
>> Sent by mailtobbs - problems? [EMAIL PROTECTED]
>> Results are kept for problem resolution purposes.
>> http://boingboing.net/suggest.html
>> ------------------end mail-------061117--

Micha Cárdenas

DIY tech / DIY crafts / performance / video / net.art



blog: http://deletetheborder.org/lotu5

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