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CC Qatar and ictQATAR Qatar Hold Open Source Workshop
Entrepreneurs, students, educators, public and private sector employees were among the participants that embraced openness and sharing as part of the Open Source Developers Workshop hosted by ictQATAR and Creative Commons Qatar on September 24-25, 2011.
The workshop was facilitated by Aiki Lab and members of its network of “fabricatorz,” who helped participants explore open source in a broader way, discuss ways to promote an open source movement in Qatar, and developed concrete open source projects.
“Open source development is about more than just sharing programming code. It’s about building a culture of collaboration and sharing, which often leads to tremendous innovation. There is a very talented and creative community of developers and open source enthusiast in Qatar that can certainly contribute to the global open source community. ictQATAR is committed to promoting openness in the digital realm and has taken steps internally to use more open source technologies, including moving to open source systems for our website and blog. We encourage organizations and individuals throughout Qatar to consider open source solutions as well,” said Brian Wesolowski, ictQATAR’s Director of Communications and the Public Lead for Creative Commons Qatar.
Open source development does literally mean sharing the source and programming code openly, but it is the culture and community that develop around open source projects that are truly powerful. Open source allows developers across the globe to collaborate, each adding insights and improvements to build innovative solutions. “Technology is really just an extension of ourselves and open source is the way of viewing the DNA,” said Jon Phillips of Aiki Lab, who was a facilitator for the workshop. Examples of open source development projects include Mozilla’s Firefox browser and the Drupal website content management system.
As part of the workshop, participants worked on three tangible open source projects. The first, was working to develop an open Arabic font for the web. Working through a project on the Open Font Library, participants developed and uploaded a new font and provided feedback on existing Arabic web fonts. A second project was developing a Wiki for children’s stories in Arabic. Using MediaWiki, a free open source software originally used for Wikipedia, participants developed a platform where anyone can contribute their own children’s story and share it with others, with users being able to edit or remix existing stories under a Creative Commons license. The third project was the translation of academic paper abstracts into Arabic on Acawiki, an open platform for academic publications.
In addition to the projects, the facilitators from Aiki Lab also stressed the value of open source software in terms of business strategy. Mahmoud Abd-Wardeh, the founder of Zeedna in Dubai, shared his experience in developing a business based on open source. “Open source software generally lacks licensing fees and you can take ownership to make the software better. My company can now grow as fast as we want to grow without being limited by other companies and their development timelines,” he said.
Chris Adams of Fabricatorz also stressed that open source is not just for programmers. “There is a lot of development work that isn’t programming. Community members can help review translations or provider user feedback,” he said.
This is the second open source workshop hosted by ictQATAR, with the first being held as part of the Digitally Open Forum in October 2010. ictQATAR and Creative Commons Qatar plan to continue to conduct engagement and awareness activities on openness in the digital realm.
More photos from the workshop can be found on ictQATAR’s Flickr page.