About two weeks ago, djlotu5 excitedly approached me about organizing a radical technology conference to counter the Emerging Technology Conference (ETech), which takes place in San Diego every year. He explained how ETech talks a good game about free software and hacking and creativity, but that the conference itself costs $1500 to get in, and is sponsored by behemoths like Disney, Microsoft, and Amazon; hardly the meeting of underdogs and innovators it pretends to be. “That sounds like a great idea,” I said, “but that only gives you two weeks to put it together. Maybe you should wait until next year’s ETech.” Given my experience with activist events in San Diego, I thought that anything put together in less than two weeks was doomed to failure.
Undeterred by my words of pessimism/prudence, lotu5 went ahead and organized a very loose, day-long event featuring presentations, workshops, and skillshares aimed at techies, hackers, activists, and indymedia types. FreEtech 2007 was small, but very friendly, fluid, educational, hands-on, and thought-provoking. We had members of RadioActive, Borderlands Hacklab, San Diego Indymedia, Activist San Diego, Free Radio San Diego, the City Heights Free Skool, Bay Area Hackbloc, Indybay, vAPPOr Oaxaca, and probably some other groups I wasn’t aware of, with maybe a dozen people driving down from SF to join us. Fun to be surrounded with fellow geeky, sarcastic anarchists.
The core idea behind it all was spreading technical knowledge and skills, with emphasis on free software, and using that free software for social and political change. This lead to a long discussion about power, privilege, race and gender, and how they interact with tech, education, organizing, and community.
Also, there was pizza.
The event was a great success, and we had a great time. We talked about organizing a similar event for the Bay Area some months from now. You’re all invited.
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