If you've ever used a piece of free and open source software--Firefox, Linux or LibreOffice, for example--you're already familiar with at least some of those advantages. You also know that “freedom” figures prominently among them, not just because of the software's generally free price but also thanks to its freedom from restrictive requirements and vendor lock-in.
Technological freedom, in fact, has become fundamentally intertwined with basic human rights, argues Pia Waugh, a former president of Software Freedom International, which organizes Software Freedom Day.
“Technologies that matter to our freedom are used in our voting systems, our leisure, our work, education, art and our communication,” Waugh wrote in an article on the Software Freedom Day site. “What does this mean to you? It means that the basic human freedoms you take for granted are only as free as the technologies you use.”
If you enjoy the freedom technologies like these provide, I encourage you to celebrate the day in some way, even if only a small one. Here are a few possible ideas.
1. Attend an Event
Hundreds of teams around the globe organize events celebrating Software Freedom Day each year, so there's a good chance there's one near you. An interactive Events Map on the site shows where such celebrations can be found this year. If one is nearby, check it out and proclaim your support for technological freedom.
2. Take a Test Drive
If you're in the market for a new piece of software for your business or home, today would be a great day to try out a free and open source contender. There are free alternatives to just about every proprietary package out there, and trying them out won't cost you anything. For inspiration, check out the article "101 Reasons to Use FOSS" on the Software Freedom Day site.
3. Lend a Hand
Even if you're not a programmer, there are still ways you can help make your favorite free and open source software even better. If you use Ubuntu Linux, for example, you can participate in an Ubuntu Bug Day. Every little bit of help makes a difference.
4. Pay for the Privilege
Most free software projects welcome financial support as well. Your assistance could be just what it takes to keep a great project going.
5. Display the Button
If you run a website or blog, why not post the official Software Freedom Day countdown button on your site? The countdown may have reached its end, but you can still let everyone who visits your site know that it's an important day.
6. Sing the Song
Yes, there's actually an official Software Freedom Day song, so even if you can't make it to an event, you can still engage in a little revelry on your own. Maybe in the shower?
7. Spread the Word
Last but not least, if you value freedom and openness in the software you use, don't keep it a secret. Whether on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter or in person, tell those around you why it matters.
Saturday's event is just a single day, of course. But given the ever-increasing reach of technology in our lives and our businesses, it's important to stop and think about the impact of the choices we make. Choose free technologies and you cast your vote for a more free and open world.