I attended the National Conference on Free Software at Hyderabad on 3rd and 4th March 2007. Almost a thousand students attended the event thanks to some fantastic work done by Kiran Chandra and his group of tireless volunteers from FSF Andhra Pradesh. Kiran commandeered me into writing the press release for the FSF and into speaking at three back to back sessions on IT and Social Impact, Software Patents and Free Software Business Models. I enjoyed myself hugely because the audience was so serious and interested in the subject. I had assumed that not too many students would be interested in the panel on software patents but the hall was packed with more than 120 students and the questions kept flowing at the end of the panel discussion.
I stirred up some controversy and heated rejoinders from my other panel members Prabir Purkayastha and G Nagarjuna, Chairman of the Free Software Foundation when I said that I see a dichotomy between the way the west treats knowledge and the way the east treats it. My point was that our traditions of knowledge come from a spiritual tradition where there is a moral imperative to share knowledge while western tratment of knowledge springs from commercial traditions which seek to commoditize knowledge. I will elaborate on this theme one of these days.
Many faculty members from the University of Hyderabad acted as volunteers for the event and it was great team work. I enjoyed myself a lot at this event.