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Go camping, with open source software

By   |  August 21, 2006

Take a hundred or so non-profit workers and hi-quality techies, add a dash of a holiday and tons of hard work and keep them on an island or isolated from the city for a week and you have a “Source camp”.

Source camps are an intiative spearheaded by NGO Tactical Technology Collective who use the camps to bring together free and open source software developers and non-profit organisations. The intention is to build relationships between these two, often very disparate, groups in the hope that together they can grow the understanding and use of free software in the non-profit sector.

To date there have been five source camps (Croatia, Namibia, India, Tajikistan and Uganda).

Now the originators of the source camp idea have gathered the notes and experiences garnered over the past five camps into a website that they hope will become a resource for other organisations to run their own camps.

Tactical Tech announced the Source Camp Replication Materials website last week.

“We are very proud of the Source events and we have been learning for the last three years how to make them better,” said Tactical Tech’s Marek Tuszynski, announcing the website.

“We have been asked many times either to organise Source events in different places or help in organising them. Unfortunately we have never had enough capacity to do that. However we thought that in the spirit of free and open source software and the general philosophy of the Source Camps we would like to show how they were organised and share our experiences in such a way that anyone who would like to organise their own Source Camp or other event inspired by Source Camps could do so using a set of materials.”

And the recipe does work, said Tuszynski. “The unique approach to learning bakes up new ideas and seeds new projects. In keeping with the spirit of the technology, this wiki serves to “open source” our work processes for these camps, and highlight their key ingredients.”

The website is set up as a wiki and contains everything from a detailed background on the origins and successes of the Source Camp concept to a “How To” through to an extremely comprehensive work plan.

The original Camp team are also encouraging “ex-campers” to contribute the website with their own ideas and experiences.

One of the particular features of Source camps is that they are always run in relatively (or sometimes extremely) remote locations. The first Africa Source camp was held outside of a small town in Namibia that was a good hour’s travel from Windhoek. The second Africa source was held on an island in Lake Victoria.

The remoteness of the locations mean everthing has to be well planned and catered for. Anything left behind may never be replaced. The guide goes into detail on how to ensure everyhing happens as planned.

The guide also details other important elements such as NGO-in-a-box, a community-created software box handed out to all attendees, facilitators, blogging and recording the event.

The beta version of the site can be found at


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