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SELF News February/March 2008

Monthly newsletter
Sharing knowledge about Free Software
Issue 17, February/March 2008

  1. Free Knowledge, Free Technology Conference Update
  2. SELF Platform Development
  3. SELF Documentary Contest Update
  4. Euroscience Open Forum Conference
  5. SELF Conference in Sofia
  6. ISO Ballot Resolution Meeting on MS-OOXML in Geneva
  7. Agenda
  8. About
1. Free Knowledge, Free Technology Conference Update

The organisation of the Free Knowledge, Free Technology Conference, to be held in Barcelona from July 15 to 17, 2008, is progressing fast. While the submission deadline for papers has been extended to April 30, 2008, the programme is already developing. Confirmed keynote speakers are Richard M. Stallman (GNU and Free Software Foundation), Karel de Vriendt (EU/IDABC) and Carlos Castro (Extremadura, Spain).

The programme itself consists of an elegant mix between keynote speakers, panel discussions and parallel tracks. Participants choose between several parallel discussions, divided in streams on:

  1. Free Knowledge and Free Technologies in society - legal issues of Free Knowledge; who creates Free Knowledge; quality assessment in collaborative authoring systems; the economy and social implications of Free Knowledge and Free Technologies
  2. Free Knowledge and Free Technologies in public bodies, co-organised with IDABC and Cenatic
  3. Educating in Freedom - technological aspects of e-learning; the SELF Platform; training Free Technologies advocates; showcase of educational materials and many more specific topics.

As part of the Conference, we are inviting you to witness the awarding ceremony of the "Free Knowledge, Free Technology" Open Documentary Contest.

As July is high-season, many flights and hotel rooms will be full - attendees are advised to register and book their travel and accommodations as early as possible. The deadline for early bird registration is April 30, 2008.

More information


2. SELF Platform Development

Many of you are waiting for the next release of the SELF Platform, and it is time to give you an update! We have had some delays in the development, mainly due to the ambitious goals to make SELF the first platform for the collaborative authoring, organising and remixing of SCORM-compliant educational materials. So far we haven't found a platform with the same characteristics and the development of it is certainly not the lightest challenge!

That said, we are getting nearer to a working version, as in the last months we have been able to integrate version management, with free branching, to the authoring environment. We consider such a versioning system a crucial feature if one wants to edit collaboratively. Now we are working on the improvement of the user interface and debugging. This month we plan to upgrade the current beta with the new developments. Then up until the FKFT conference in July we will be working on improving these developments: User Interface improvements, Document Exchange, Improving Translation Options, Language Preferences, Improvement of the Reputation and Pupularity Indicators, Semantic Neighbourhood Based Search, Reference Material Storage Server (a SELF instance with verbatim reference materials) and set up workgroups so that multiple authors can work together on specific topics.

So, hold on a bit before we can provide the next release, and for the more adventurous: come and join in for testing!

More information



Contribution by Wouter Tebbens,

3. SELF Open Documentary Contest

The SELF Open Documentary Contest is still open for submissions! The awarding ceremony for the winning videos will take place at The Free Knowledge, Free Technology (FKFT) Conference in Barcelona, which will take place from 15 to 17 July 2008. The documentaries will be screened during the two days of the conference, and also made available on the SELF Platform as part of the SELF collection of educational materials on Free Software and Open Standards.

The three top most documentaries selected by the jury will be awarded, and the prizes they will receive will be revealed during the award ceremony. Members of the jury are, amongst others, Claudio Andaur (Argentina), Jayalakshmi Chittoor (India) and Heather Ford (South Africa). In addition to the prizes, we hope that broadcasters in all forms will take on the documentaries and release them in their mediums (of course, the authors of the documentaries will always be properly attributed).

If you want to help encourage your local TV station, favorite web site, or anyone else to feature the SELF documentaries after the award ceremony, we look forward to hearing from you!

More information

4. Euroscience Open Forum Conference

Euroscience Open Forum 2008 in Barcelona is organised by Euroscience and hosted by the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation/ Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la Innovació (FCRI). ESOF2008 will be the third Open Forum.

ESOFs are held every second year, hosted by major science cities in Europe - Stockholm in 2004 and Munich in 2006. The Forums are interdisciplinary meetings of scientists, young researchers, politicians, policy-makers, innovators, business people, media and communicators. ESOF typically features over 70 scientific sessions in topics ranging from nanosciences to ethics, natural disasters to tissue engineering, and international security to the human mind. On July 20, a panel will be organised around the Free Knowledge Free Technology Conference: "One step further: from Free Software to Free Knowledge".

ESOF is a sponsor of the Free Knowledge Free Technology Conference and attendees of ESOF2008 will receive a discount on the registration fee for FKFT2008.

More information

5. SELF Conference in Sofia

The SELF Conference in Sofia went in the friendly atmosphere and environment of the French cultural Institute (, hosted by Internet Society Bulgaria and Linux for Bulgarians. The conference, organised by the SELF Project clearly passed the message of how important the technological freedom is in science and education, going hand in hand with the idea of sharing knowledge and learn from others' experiences.

The main auditory -- not only teachers from the high schools in Sofia, but also university students and professors, governmental representatives and training providing SMEs, became part of a vivid and fruitful discussion on how the SELF Project can be practical and beneficial to them, their students and their organisations. Another part of the discussion focussed on how resources can be used in the best manner. Speakers on the conference were, amongst others, Wouter Tebbens (, Jonas Oberg (FSFE / UGOT), Federico Heinz (FVL) and Jordi Serra (UOC).

The presentations provoked Bulgarian Free Software community members also to present their projects. One of the most interesting examples was came from a teacher, who selected and prepared a CD with educational free software tools for his students, but also available online for anyone interested: "Learn in Freedom CD" -

Contribution by Dessi Pevefa,

6. ISO Ballot Resolution Meeting on MS-OOXML in Geneva

The majority of impressions from the witnesses of Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM), tell us about another Microsoft's relatively well directed farce to be reckoned with. Nationaldelegations from 33 countries participated in the ballot resolution meeting (BRM) in Geneva, Switzerland, on 25-29 February 2008, to resolve comments submitted by the national member bodies of IEC and ISO on the draft and to reach agreement on proposed modifications arising from these comments with a view to making the document acceptable for publication as an international standard according to IEC/ISO criteria.

The problem was that only a very small percentage of the proposed dispositions were discussed in detail, amended and approved by the delegations in attendance at the BRM, indicating the inability of OOXML to be adequately addressed within the "Fast Track" process. But the more important problem still is the proposed MS-OOXML/DIS29500 specification, which raises serious technical and legal concerns. Binary content, lack of effective conformance clause and legal uncertainty are only a sample of the concerns associated with it.

Given that the ISO process has around 900 unresolved technical comments and will not discuss legal considerations, the suitability of the proposed specification is more than questionable. The only outcome of the proposed specification and its practical implementation in MS Office 2007 is hindered interoperability, vendor dependence and continued market distortion.

As just noted by FSFE in their context briefing, there is only one reasonable response by national bodies: move DIS29500 out of the Fast Track process by voting "DISAPPROVE, with comments" and suggest methods of handling the proposed specification through the normal ISO process, ideally by convergence into ISO/IEC26300, the Open Document Format (ODF).

Interoperability woes with MS-OOXML; Context briefing

More information and irregularities of the process

A well written overview of the meeting

Robert Weir of IBM, part of the US delegation, and here

Tim Bray's blog

Brazilian's viewpoint

Contribution by Dessi Pefeva,

NOTE: India's Final Vote On MS Office File Standard Is 'NO'

"News has just come in that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), has made a final decision on the document file format OXML (Open eXtended Markup Language). [...]

Thus ODF (Open Document Format) backed by IBM, Sun, Red Hat and Google among others will continue to be the only "standard" file format as far as India is concerned."

More information

7. Agenda
Free Knowledge Free Technology Conference Paper Submission Deadline
April 30, 2008, 23:59 UTC
Free Knowledge Free Technology Early Bird Registration Deadline
April 30, 2008, 23:59 UTC
International Association for Scientific Knowledge (IASK)
Teaching and Learning conference
May 26-28 2008, Aveiro, Portugal
  • Jonas Oberg, FSFE/UGOT: Presentation about SELF
SELF Open Documentary Contest Submission Deadline
May 31, 2008, 23:59 UTC
Free Knowledge Free Technology Conference
July 15-17, Barcelona, Spain
ESOF 2008
July 18-22, Barcelona, Spain
  • July 20, 14:30 - 18:00 SELF panel: "One Step Further: from Free Software to Free Knowledge"
8. About

SELF News is a monthly newsletter about the SELF Project and related issues. SELF aims to be the central platform with high quality educational and training materials about Free Software and Open Standards. It is based on world-class Free Software technologies that permit both reading and publishing free materials, and is driven by a worldwide community.

Information about SELF:

Consortium Partners:

  • Internet Society Netherlands
  • Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
  • Free Software Foundation Europe
  • Goteburg University
  • Internet Society Bulgaria
  • Fundación Vía Libre
  • Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education

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SELF - Science Education and Learning in Freedom