October 2, 2019

FOSDEM is approaching its 20 year anniversary.

It is customary to many large festivals to have an Off version at the margin of the main festival, to give space to proposals that are not represented in the official one.

The idea of OFFDEM is to address intersectional questions that are not present at FOSDEM, in a format that attracts people who usually do not go there: at OFFDEM, everyone is a user.

FOSDEM misses cosy and quiet spaces for collectives to meet, focus, hack and work together in good conditions, away from the noise and seasonal rain, shielded from the usual stress of too much sollicitation and perceptual saturation ; the main attraction of OFFDEM should be its absence of both concurrent tracks and a main track, so that ad-hoc organization, free conversation and unexpected activities can take place.

OFFDEM should also act as an overflow mechanism for a number of free software groups that could not obtain a devroom due to the saturation of physical space at FOSDEM.

The idea came from the conjunction of two processes:

  1. the feeling that another type of free software gathering is needed, more radical, and more focused on intersectional topics, gathering concerned citizens and everyone who falls under the unique vocable of user, unfolding the diversity and exploring the complementarity of the people usually left aside of the programming elites of “open-source”;
  2. a growing discontent with the evolution of FOSDEM: cultivating social grouping, accepting questionable sponsors that fail to address our concerns against surveillance capitalism.

This situation made us will to create an alternative event to FOSDEM that would break down the barriers between communities, provide an inclusive space for people from different disciplines to be considered not only as end-users but as accomplices in the production of new techniques that support social change and the Commons.