The GOTO 10 techno art collective, who have produced the PureDyne GNU/Linux distro and the FLOSS+Art book among other creatively capitalised wonderfulness, asked me to go to Poitiers in France for the weekend of the 11th-13th of December to talk about FooCorp and our projects at their "Make Art" conference which this year was about project forking and distributed systems.
Eight hours of train travel from the winter fog of Peterborough, and one Android phone crash and wipe on the Paris Metro, took me to a gallery in Poitier filled with artists, civil society activists, hackers and philosophers. I caught the last of Friday's talks, about a music system using Lua as a scripting language, then had some excellent food at GOTO 10's offices before two livecoding performance in Poitier's planetarium.
On Saturday morning GOTO 10 talked about why they'd switched from Debian to Ubuntu as the basis for PureDyne and using Launchpad to organize it. They were aware of the differences between Debian's constitutional volunteer organization and Ubuntu's corporately managed faux community, but ease of organization and contribution had won out for what they needed to do. In the afternoon I talked about FooCorp, libre.fm and daisycha.in in between great talks from Simon Yuill about Free Software and its critics, Wayne Clements about his re-implementation of the first generative text program from 1952, and Adnan Hazi and Lisa Haskell about the metadata-driven community pirate TV station deptford.tv.
There were about 50 people in the gallery, another 50 watching the Ogg Vorbis stream of the talk online, and more people on IRC. The audience still had France's recent HADOPI "three strikes" law on their minds (there was a talk about it later in the day), and Facebook's privacy violations of earlier in the week were another concern. They were receptive to the idea of why libre.fm is needed, and they were very keen to see daisycha.in, as it answered their concerns about the control, censorship and monitoring of Facebook and other proprietary social networking site. People had good questions during and after the talk, offline and on, and asked for my slides and a recording of the talk. Adnan referenced my talk, as did Simon the next day.
After some performances on Saturday night involving samplers driven by Pez dispensers, a building being played with a bow, and an extreme noise terror allegory of death and the maiden with tape-measures, another breakfast club on Sunday morning disussed Simon Yuill's talk in greater detail, which I became involved in where I could add a more conventional free software/free culture viewpoint. After lunch I caught the train back to England.
GOTO 10's organization was flawless and it was great to talk to and be constructively challenged by people with such a wide range of interests and ideas. It was amazing to see how what FooCorp is doing fits with what such a range of creative, committed, critically thinking people want to see. FooCorp's projects struck a chord with the audience, and even the people who questioned what we'd done did so constructively and in a way that convinced me even more that what we are doing is culturally worthwhile, politically important, and needs to be taken further.