Freedom Summer of Code Model

Given our limited time and our already existent general knowledge of the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) project, we believe that a modified GSoC model makes the most sense for the first run at this project. By using this model (described below), technologically active people will understand what we are trying to accomplish by mapping their understanding of the GSoC model onto ours, without needing too much description. Additionally, GSoC has a track record of working to some degree, and we certainly want this to work. Our hope is that as FSoC gains traction and support, we will develop the most effective and politically useful model, which may be radically different than this one. However, until then, this is what we are going with.

The Model

The basic structure of the model we propose is as follows:

  • A call for politically focused computer technology projects goes out.
  • Anyone (individual, group, or organization) can submit ideas for what they would like to see done during FSoC.
  • FSoC labor posts a list of the proposals on-line for potential programmers to view and consider.
  • Programmers (a.k.a. participants) sign up as interested in working on FSoC and pick the project or projects that seem most interesting to them.
  • FSoC labor makes decisions about who gets matched with which projects, and turn the coders loose.
  • Periodically, FSoC labor checks in on projects and people to make sure all goes well.
  • After three months, projects come to a close and FSoC labor evaluates the results.
  • After three months and one day, FSoC officially announces, “We have changed the world!”

This model has three broad types of participation in FSoC: Organizations, Programmers, and Individual Facilitators. These three participant types lay the foundation for the proposed model.

What we hope to see with these participants is two fold. First, we hope to promote quality, meaningful labor that gets respected for both the effort involved and the intentions with and for which it was undertaken. Second, we want these participants to find a larger community and network in which their political and personal visions develop and expand.

Individual Facilitators
This group of participants comprises the people who may not be able to work on actual technical development (because they do not have the time to invest, do not feel technically savy enough to contribute on that level, or for whatever reason), but they still want to support the project. We believe that such participants could be very helpful with simply offering face time, talk time or encouragement for the programmers to help them get through the program. These participants might be particularly useful for those projects proposed and executed by individuals with no organizational contacts.

Organizations, we hope, will serve a number of functions. First, we expect them to propose projects that they could use and would like to see happen. Second, and in conjunction with the first, we expect organizations to work with programmers, helping to facilitate the work. Third, we hope that some organizations choose to become co-sponsors of FSoC with Riseup Labs, i.e. they offer donations (of time, labor, money, etc.) to help us with the work.

Making it Happen
This brings up the final and most important point for this model. We do not want to make any specific claims about financial compensation at this point. Because there remain many uncertainties regarding how many people and how much money (assuming we get some co-sponsors), we believe at this point no such financially focused statements should be made. More importantly, such statements do not matter right now.

Moving straight away to the proposal phase makes the most sense. While we should be open about having money to make this happen, who will get what is not going to be addressed at this point. We suggest that we begin developing the technical framework and web content needed for proposal submissions ASAP. Such a framework should also be structured to accept people interested in participating at all levels and reflect organization’s ability to become co-sponsors. In short, we use the proposal time as a way to develop interest, and as we get a better sense of the level of interest, we can begin making financial decisions.