Sharing Session 22:  Open Source, Knowledge & Civil Society

with Hemant Babu, Venkatesh Hariharan & Rajni Bakshi

March 15, 2011, CED, Mumbai

The transition from Analog to Digital based knowledge is bound to be painful, said Hemant Babu,  activists working for community media. He called for creating an Open Source Community Media Movement.

Venky Hariharan, who worked for developing open source hindi software said that open source is a threat to the entrenched interests of those seek to continue extracting rent from every user of their inventions.

Thr four hours we slotted for sharing their experience, truned out to be insufficient, and the discussion started going deep into various issues beyond time.

Two of the participants involved in teaching, spoke of the difficulties with the googled out cut and paste presentations. In fact some institutions are paying for software which helps seek out such infringements. So watch out students!

Hemant made a compelling case for treating spectrum as a "commons" and not being sold to the highest bidder, who then has to extract his costs from the 'common' user, whose property that spectrum is in the first place. He therefore called for more information on use and purposes of 'spectrum' and a more transparent disclosure of the allocation as well as usage of that spectrum. Since State may not be willing to do this, perhaps each one of us can monitor spectrum in their locality and feed this to a central pool.

He also called for civil society to use the open spectrum ( 2.4 Ghz for Wifi, and 5.2 Ghzfor Wi Max) in a more creative way.

An interesting example is in music.. check out

The issue was also to protect content and software which is in the commons. He gave the example of licensing under creative commons: for dertails

link to unedited transcription of the session

Venkatesh Hariharan, an open source professional, having worked with Red Hat, Google and an active blogger @

Hemant Babu, A Community Radio activist, also developing systems for Community TV, Open source electronic archiving of oral history of the marginalized. He set up the hardware for multi-channel translation at the World Social Forum, and we plan to work together on “ To Durban Without Flying”. net  etc.

Rajni Bakshi, author/activist whose recent book Bazaars, Conversations, Freedom ( sees in the open source story a pathway towards a new economics – an alternative economic system, based on conversation, engaged exchange, as opposed to a purely monetarist view of sustainability.