UDS Lightning Talk – Local Schools

CACS Partimus LabHere is the text of my lightning talk.

Good afternoon! My name is Grant Bowman.

First, I want to thank Ubuntu for choosing this UDS location. It’s very exciting to have you all here. I’m a local. I would like to plug all the hard working San Francisco Bay Area groups I am privileged to be involved with but I need to highlight just one right now.

I would like to pause for a moment with you to zoom out quite a bit just for a second. Schools around the world are literally the place where the minds of our next generation are shaped. As social networking and new research confirms, the human condition is predicated on what Edward O Wilson calls eusociality or, more simply, “fitting in.” My colleagues and I have seen the need to “fit in” manifest itself time and again here in California and through travels to places like August Town, Jamaica and Nairobi, Kenya. Highly social school administrators are not immune. Luckily this eusociality is a double edged sword. It can work in both directions. Let me “take you to school.”

Even in these times of financial challenges, school district administrators, principals, teachers, parents and students still clamour to allocate a very significant amount of their overall resources to the purchase of poorly made computing products. This is directly due to public misconceptions. With a foundation of education these misconceptions can be changed.

As far as design & usability, Ubuntu is now leading the state of the art rather than following. We are experiencing a innovative, disruptive computing transition as described by Clayton Christianson in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Poorly made computing products guarantee vendors upgrade sales. This contrasts with how we do things. As Eric Raymond describes, we are able to scratch our own itches and share our improvements for mutual benefit. We operate in the open in a bazaar style.

Closed source vendor lock-in creates a cycle of dependency in hearts and minds of all ages just at a time when students are looking to authority figures to show them how best to move forward. *We* know that free and open source specifically and Creative Commons more generally are game changers. Tim O’Reilly calls us alpha geeks. The public is slowly becoming more aware.

The significant resources closed source vendors direct at our common future are shaping the computing platform choices we and our neighbors use both publicly and privately. The longer we wait the worse this problem becomes. As we know, now is always the best time for engaging.

We would like to contribute back our hard won lessons, build our capacity and replicate our best practices in similar environments. In the 1970s Dr. Douglas C Engelbart called this structure a set of improvement communities. His papers are well worth reading to this day.

Partimus means “we share” in Latin. For those that haven’t heard yet, we are a locally operating 501(c)(3). We bring repurposed hardware, our favorite GNU/Linux distribution, free and open source applications and free culture content to San Francisco and Oakland schools. We are deeply involved in community building efforts. We need your support to continue to provide and grow our program as we have done for the past eight years. If you are able to help us, please contact me, Elizabeth Krumbach or the email address contact@partimus.org. Lyz and I are happy to speak with you. Lyz also has Ubuntu earrings for sale, a fundraiser we are conducting on our website, partimus.org

Oh, wear sunscreen. Thank you very, very much.

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5 responses to “UDS Lightning Talk – Local Schools

  1. I’ll be adding links shortly but needed to get this up now.

  2. epikvision

    Public schools, especially in Los Angeles, should transition to Linux. It would be great to have Linux as the main OS, because Windows XP is so obsolete these days in financially troubled school districts.

    Very thought-provoking speech! As a high-schooler, I find it a huge incentive to spread the word.

  3. Pingback: Ubuntu developers: Grant Bowman: UDS Lightning Talk – Local Schools | Linux-Support.com

  4. You’re a passionate writer! Through your words you were able to get an emotional response from me to get involved…thanks for enlightening me about Partimus and more! Best of luck, Cosmosho

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