Weekly wrap-up: Stallman says surveillance is "social pollution," good week for civic geeks, and more | Opensource.com

Weekly wrap-up: Stallman says surveillance is "social pollution," good week for civic geeks, and more

Posted 18 Oct 2013 by 

Ginny Skalski (Red Hat)
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Open source news this week:

October 14 - October 18, 2013


What other open source-related news stories did you read about this week? Share them with us in the comments section. Follow us on Twitter where we share these stories in real time.


  • Surveillance as "social pollution." In an essay published this week on Wired.com, Richard Stallman eloquently advocates for reducing the level of general surveillance in our society, arguing that information, once collected, will be misused. Not surprisingly, the president of the Free Software Foundation argues that using free/libre software is the first step we can take to control our digital lives, and that non-free software cannot be trusted. Among the changes Stallman advocates for are explicit legal protection for whistleblowers and stopping the collection of dossiers on everyone. He says: "If we don’t want a total surveillance society, we must consider surveillance a kind of social pollution, and limit the surveillance impact of each new digital system just as we limit the environmental impact of physical construction." Whether you feel surveillance should be reduced or not, this essay is worth a read.
  • Good week for civic geeks. This was a hot week for open government efforts. GitHub announced the launch of a new website dedicated to showcasing the work of public servants and civic hackers around the world. Code for America hosted its annual gathering of civic technology leaders at its summit in San Francisco. And Accela announced beta availability of CivicData.com, a free cloud-based open data platform designed to make it easier for government agencies to publish and manage datasets. It’s refreshing to know that while the U.S. Federal government may have been at a stand still, other organizations were marching full-steam ahead with their efforts to make government-related information more accessible. By the way, now that the federal government has officially reopened, you can now access sites like Data.gov and Census.gov again.
  • Nothing spooky about it. The new open source blogging platform Ghost launched to the public this week, not long after launching to its 6,000 Kickstarter backers. I haven’t tried Ghost yet, but it bills itself as a “beautifully designed platform dedicated to one thing: Publishing.” As part of the public launch, Ghost partner Envato announced a $5,000 Most Wanted Competition to seed Ghost themes on ThemeForest. The submitters of the first 10 approved Ghost themes will receive $250. There are also rewards for other approved items too.
  • Patch this up. Google announced a new bug bounty program this week for open source projects. The new "Patch Rewards" program will reward developers who make security improvements to several open source projects, reports ZDNet. The first valid projects are OpenSSH, BIND, ISC DHCP, libjpeg, libpng, giflib, Chromium, Blink, OpenSSL, zlib, and "Security-critical, commonly used components" of the Linux kernel. More projects will be eligible in the coming weeks. ZDNet has more details on the new program and what other projects the program will extend to in the future.
  • All in a day's work. Imagine building a house in just five hours, and I'm not talking about a Lego mansion, I'm talking about a real structure that you can live in. Dutch designer Pieter Stoutjesdijk has created an emergency shelter that can be snapped together in just five hours, reports Fast Company. Stoutjesdijk's open source design is meant to bring shelter to people who lose their homes in a disaster. And while we're on the topic of open source construction, check out this interview with WikiHouse co-founder Alastair Parvin, who shares details on where the open source construction set is heading.
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Ginny Skalski is a blogger and social media strategist. A former municipal and state government reporter, Ginny is passionate about local politics, journalism, and learning more about ways the open source movement can change the world.

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