Open day - an annual event that takes place in Indian Institute of Science (hereafter known as IISc), Bengaluru. Whilst Open Day is an event started by IISc, it has opportunely become a platform that Free Software Movement Karnataka (FSMK) utilises for spreading awareness to the attendees of Open Day.
When FSMK started attending the event, as an experiment, the agenda was to simply engage with people and talk about Free Software and the role of FSMK. Our experiments has seen the light of day.
As mentioned prior, the goal was to simply engage with people and spread awareness of Free Software. If goals were easy to achieve then everybody would be onboard. As real life kicks in, we realise goals need to be nurtured on a continuous basis.
Most people who interact with us on Open Day quite often forget the work that is put behind by the volunteers of this organisation to “simply” interact with them. On the other hand, many volunteers of this organisation often forget the amount of work that is necessary to “simply” interact with the general public. There is always two sides to a story.
When we get out there in the open and talk to strangers, we are prepared. This preparation is done months or even years prior. The preparation is simple - read, discuss and reflect. The stress is on reflect.
Most often than necessary, we see people miss this bit. A lot many people read and discuss, but without reflection the mind is an empty container consuming whatever that is poured. When one doesn’t reflect, the individual tries to replicate the words from essays, books and wherever else information is obtained. Recollection is a methodology, reflection on the other hand is refining. Why is this important on, specially, Open Day?
We just don’t meet one subset of people, we meet people of all kinds. That’s a problem. We meet individuals of all ages. If we stick to a single “explanation” of Free Software, our goals are shattered even before we begin. This is where reflection comes into picture. If an individual has understood the core principles of Free Software, it can be explained using a brick as an example. As activists, we adapt to the environment we are present in. Following the philosophy of Richard Feynman really help FSMK get traction with the audience - “If you can’t explain something in simple terms, you don’t understand it”.
As far as the audience is concerned, the only way to make sure that they’ve understood something is to iteratively ask questions. The only way, we as an organisation, are able to reflect is when we are posed with questions. When we catch something out of the blue, we are able to generate new reflections that we missed before.
Are we meeting the goals?
Yes, we are. One person at a time. When we are present in Open Day talking to people, we are spreading awareness. The reason is simple - they took some information with them that they were unaware of prior. What is impact of this awareness? The people who listened to us need to tell. Otherwise, we will simply be in an echo chamber.
How long will this go on for?
As long as it lasts. Activism isn’t a day’s work. It is years of work done by a lot of people. Sometimes people who have even moved away from the organisation. Activism is a slow change in a democratic world. It isn’t revolutionary but it is simply necessary. As long as critical thinking is around, we will create change - one step at a time.
Do you have to wait till next year to meet us?
Absolutely not. Our office address is available on our website fsmk.org. You can sign up for our discussions on discuss.fsmk.org and you can even visit us in our office (although, we aren’t available all the time. The plight of volunteers!). But we will be be present in Open Day, year after year until somebody shows us a stop sign.