On the 28 March 2018, Fedora Ambassadors organized Document Freedom Day in Singapore. Document Freedom Day is a day which like-minded folks who care about libre document formats gather to discuss and raise awareness of libre document formats. Libre document formats help reduce restrictions and vendor lock-ins. They are also an important tool that enables our right to read freely.

As someone passionate about freedom and individual privacy, I was excited about this event. Along with my ambassador mentor, Herson, we helped to organize this event.

Logistics & Planning

Firstly, we plan ahead of time to buffer for hiccups or seek alternatives if the main plan requires pivoting. Our initial discussions began on 16 January and we discussed about the theme of the event and who we can invite as speakers. We posted up the event on Meetup where everyone could join in the fun. Herson assisted me with the location sponsor and movement of Fedora banners. Whilst I handled the pastry (Document Freedom Cake) and getting speakers.

Before the event took place, we tweeted out on our Fedora in Singapore Twitter account. These series of Tweets were aimed at promoting our event and showing how much fun we had.

Other than that, I’ve also emailed a few mailing list (HackerspaceSG, etc) and spread the word about our event. Our roles were clear and when required, we would help each other out in whichever area required. We learnt about each other’s working styles and time commitment better.

Document Freedom Celebration

We held our celebrations at Rakuten’s office located in the city area (courtesy of Herson, a Rakuten staff). The event included two talks – the state of libre document formats and making a case for HTML / Web technologies over Open Document Format (ODF). Before the talks started, we cut the delicious looking Document Freedom cake and had small discussions and talks amongst ourselves. We were also giving out Fedora stickers! Conversations included topics on video editing software for Linux and distributed file systems. It seems like folks who attended were already familiar with the Linux and free software world.

The State Of Libre Document Formats

The first talk, “the state of libre document formats”, was done by me. It compares and contrasts our past, present and future of libre document formats. In my talk, I emphasized on the importance of privacy and how libre document formats help ensure that. If a person was to use a proprietary e-reader, the e-reader is able to track their attention span, the topics they enjoy reading, and many more. Through such personal information, the company is able to perceive their personality. These profiles are lucrative to advertisers who are out to sell to the right audience. Other than that, if such data was to be leaked out, these readers’ privacy would be compromised. If we do not continue using libre document formats, our future generations might have to suffer a dystopian future.

Making a case for HTML / Web technologies over ODF

Kai Hendry speaking at the meetup

The second talk, “making a case for HTML / Web technologies over ODF”, was done by Kai Hendry. Kai Hendry is a British South African geek behind  and he’s super geeky about web technologies. In his talk, he talks about the beauty of HTML and JavaScript. He compared the differences between web tech zip and ODF. Some of his points included how he strongly believes that the web will help preserve our right to read and is the future of libre document formats. Also, he emphasized on how quickly the web has evolved and has been around since the beginning of time. Its reliability and accessibility, along with encryption, might be the key to our future reading rights.

Although these two talks were very different, I think that the audience have learnt a lot and would each take their own stance or sides. Through this talk, I’ve learnt about the web tech zip and its use.

Closing Note

Finally, we would like to thank everyone for taking their time to join this event. Not to forget, thank you Rakuten for sponsoring the event location! We hope that more people would join in for our future events in Singapore – be it Linux or free software lover. See you soon!