SELF Platform Beta launched!

The Beta version of the SELF Platform is already available for testers and early adopters. You can check it right now at

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SELF at OpenFest

On the 27th and 28th of October, the SELF speakers Georg Greve and Jonas Öberg from the Free Software Foundation Europe participated in the 5th annual OpenFest in Sofia, Bulgaria. This year, Internet Society and the SELF Project are sponsoring the realisation of the 5-th anniversary of the biggest FOSS event in Bulgaria. The OpenFest conference builds on the expanding interest in Free Software in Bulgaria and has been supported by the Bulgarian President since its first event in 2001.

The SELF project and OpenFest has worked together to spread awareness of SELF in Bulgaria, icluding two keynote presentations, featuring SELF. SELF has been presented in general as a streamed effort of the Free Software Foundation Europe, part of the activities, focused on Free Software learning mechanisms. SELF Platform has been presented also as a business initiative, a sustainable development platform, allowing long term benefits for different target groups.

SELF in the spotlight on iCommons!

The iCommons team made an article about SELF and we are now at their spotlight, see

Thanks to David Jacovkis (Free Knowledge Institute) for the inputs and Thomas Vilhelm ( for some of the artistic pictures and Daniela Faris (iCommons) for writing the article!


Reflections on the SELF Platform Launch

Amsterdam, early Wednesday morning, September 5 2007. The Doelenzaal of the University of Amsterdam is slowly being filled with various people from education, government and business, while the organisation of the SELF project desperately tries to get rid of Mr. Murphy. The internet is still down, the projector is broken, and a somewhat confused professor bluntly runs into the room stating that he'll give a class on the history of science. Wouter Tebbens, the coordinator of SELF, replies: “Nono, we are going to talk about the future of science!”

A little later than planned the conference 'Free Software in Education' finally takes off. Arjen Kamphuis introduces the day by showing a map of Europe which demonstrates that the Netherlands are really way behind with the use of Free Software.

Educational Partnership with SELF

Why this document of partnership?


As the SELF platform rises from the conceptual phase, the implementation phase becomes actual. The aim of this phase is an organization where the SELF platform is driven by an autonomous self-feeding mechanism. Self-feeding is the abstract force behind the quality circle: planning of learning objects-production-consumption/validating of the learning objects-review Some appealing and challenging problems in this circle are:

- How should production be organized for the long term to become self-feeding?

- What is a valuable contribution and how should validating be organized?

SELF talk at the Free Software and Open Source Workshop in Varna, Bulgaria

FLOSS Workshop to be held in Varna, Bulgaria on April 27th 2007. Technical University of Varna together with ARC Fund is organizing a one day workshop focused on Free/Libre/Open Source Software.

Julia Velkova from ISOC - Bulgaria will talk about the SELF Project, in the context of International projects for Free Software and Open Source. The audience of the conference include Free Software community members, Technical university representatives and representatives from the business sector.

Creative Commons and Copyleft

During the search of free educational materials for the SELF Platform , it is quite usual to find content without a license attached. To the question "Under which license is this document published?", several have answered "It has a CC license". And that is usually bad news.

Creative Commons is not a single license but a family of licenses. The different CC licenses differ in the rights they reserve to the owner of the content:
  • Attribution (by): reserved in all CC licenses, guarantees that the original author is given credit when the content is redistributed.
  • No derivatives (nd): the content cannot be changed in any way.
  • Non-commercial (nc): commercial use of the content is prohibited.
  • Share-alike (sa): the redistributed content and derived works must be licensed in the same terms as the original.

This reserved rights are combined in the form of six CC licenses. These range from the CC-by-nc-nd, which allows only non-commercial distribution of the unmodified work (i.e., what you do when you lend or copy a CD to a friend), to the CC-by-sa, the good ol' copyleft. The later is equivalent to the GPL-like licenses used in Free Software. In short, a copyleft license says: you can use this in any way you like, share it, sell it, print it upside down and sell it again or mix it with your cereal for breakfast, as long as you (i) give credit to the ones who worked on it before and (ii) share it in the same terms you received it.

Then, why is it a bad thing when someone says that a work "has a CC license"? First of all, confusion. We have seen that the Creative Commons covers at least six very different licenses, ranging from the very restrictive to the genuinely free as in freedom . So, "I use a CC license" sounds to me like "I have no idea about licenses, and I don't care too much. But the CC logo looks cool at the bottom of the page, doesn't it?".

Second, and most important for the SELF Project: when the license of a work is just "a CC license", it will probably be non-commercial. I can understand that when it comes from an individual or a company who expect to comercialise that content. But when it comes from a public organisation, I really don't get it. If we all put money in our governments, why shouldn't we be able to enjoy the results? What's wrong with people making money with those works? And even more when we would all benefit from the improvements, if the work had a copyleft license. I like to think that many of those CC-by-nc-nd licenses have not been chosen after a serious evaluation of the available options and their consequences, so I hope in many cases we will be able to successfully advocate for a change from "a CC license" to real copyleft, be it GFDL, CC-by-sa or any other free documentation license.

SELF Founding Principles

As we have recently published a set of founding principles to define the shared thoughts and ideas of the participants in the SELF Platform, I thought it a good idea to comment on it. These principles form the basis of the Platform, should guide us when there is doubt and they will mark the direction of the future of SELF.

1. Sharing Knowledge

We share, create, stimulate and promote knowledge in the area of Free Software and Open Standards. Knowledge shared freely becomes much more valuable. For this reason, the materials on the SELF platform are available to everyone free of charge and can be used, adapted, modified, updated, translated, as defined in the Licensing Policy.

Dutch OSS Year book 2006 - 2007

Free Software is a global fenomenon. A huge flow af new developments, trends and other news make it difficult for many decisionmakers, politicians and managers to keep track of them. Dutch publisher Media Update has brought together 8 authors to present an overview of Free Software, Open Standards, Free Content and other Free & Open trends we can see today. The book is in Dutch and presents as well the Dutch political history and reality of the adoption in Dutch government.

The SELF Project is presented in the book in a chapter called "sharing knowledge in the 21st century" (written by myself). This article argues the importance of Free Software in science, culture, economy and society. In more concrete terms, it shows how the use of Free Software and its principles are fundamental in all these domains. In science Free Software enables the verification and falsification of scientific theories. In culture the use of copyleft facilitates the sharing and collaborative creation of cultural works. In economy Free Software represents a real alternative to the current software monopolies and hence its adoption would stimulate innovation and create equal opportunities in the software market. Finally, Free Software is essential for transparency, social inclusion and democratisation of information. For all these reasons it is fundamental to introduce Free Software in education. That is what the SELF project does by providing a worldwide platform for the collaborative production and sharing of freely available education and training materials about Free Software and Open Standards. This can only be achieved by the active participation of all parties involved, from educational and governmental institutes to ICT and training companies, publishers, NGOs and Free Software communities.

Interoperability in Bratislava

This week I had the pleasure to take part in the panel discussion about interoperability in the ITAPA Congress in Bratislava, Slovakia. Jan Husar ( had invited me together with Serge Novaretti from the EC's IDABC Programme, Erwin Tenhumberg from SUN Microsystems and Jan Hochman from the Ministry of IT & Telecommunications.

My role was to make clear the relation between Open Standards and Free Software. Very different concepts, but they make a winning team, was my argument. Where the embracing of Open Standards in proprietary software is in itself a fantastic improvement in comparison to where we are now in many organisations, it has lead to serious problems in several cases. I refer to the embrace & extend strategy as applied by Microsoft in the case of C and HTML. If a Standard fulfils the European Interoperability Framework definition of an Open Standard, there is a very good testcase to be really sure it is open: the implementation in a Free Software application.

Free and Open Source Software Society Malaysia

Today (17th of August 2006) I have the honour to be invited to speak for the Malaysian Free Software community, As I commented in my last post about the Malaysian Government preliminary decision to accept ODF they are working on many good things. Check their website:

See below my presentation about the SELF project at their monthly Meetup. It was received with many interested questions.

You know what they say about Free Software in Malaysia? "Free as in Freedom, think free speech, not free Teh Tarik." (tea is more common in Malaysia than beer :-) ).

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