Picking up from the last conference I was part of, Software Freedom Kosovo 2019 in Pristina, just a month later, the 6th edition of OSCAL (Open Source Conference Albania) took part, on May 18-19 at OFIÇINA, the same venue as the edition of 2017.

Having been an organizer for most of the previous editions, this year I wasn’t officially part of the organizing team but I nonetheless decided to help the team by taking responsibility for the volunteers. The volunteers are those that actually make the event happen and without them we wouldn’t be able to run the conference, so a big shoutout to all of them 🤗.

So, what is this local event that everyone from the Albanian community was making so much noise about?

OSCAL (Open Source Conference Albania) is the first annual conference in Albania organized to promote software freedom, open source software, free culture and open knowledge, a global movement that originally started more than 30 years ago. The 6th edition took place at 18 & 19 May 2019 in Tirana to gather free libre open source technology users, developers, academics, governmental agencies and people who share the idea that software should be free and open for everyone. OSCAL is organized by Open Labs Hackerspace, the local community which for 7 years has been putting so much efforts to bring free open source software and culture in a local and regional level..

This year, the conference had a new brand done by Kleidi Eski, the designer that has worked with us for the past 4 or 5 editions now. You can see the new logo displayed below.

OSCAL 2019 logo

This year there were more than 40 speakers with interesting talks and workshops from various topics about security, privacy, Linux, free software, free knowledge and software freedom etc.

Ethical Tech was the main theme of OSCAL 2019!

Self driving cars, artificial intelligence, personal assistants, algorithms, the gig economy empowered by apps and wars fought with drones and robots were and are presented as tools to make our lives better. The opposite happens! Social networks are now influencing elections and democracies, gadgets automate our homes by spying on us and our taxi-drive gives away every ride of ours! As if this as not enough, ‘cool’ platforms and apps have already created a generation of youngsters fighting for their financial survival as part of their participation in the gig economy. This year we reflect on what we really need our tech to be. We decide and take a stand between ‘the coolest tech’ and the ‘ethical tech’ that works for us, not against us! And we can only have this new reality only by using free and open source tools!

This year I was present with a workshop titled “How to setup a private and secure system in 2019”. The workshop was 2 hours long and covered everything from zero for beginners on tools and workflows to make their systems more secure and private. I honestly expected more people and interest but I was left a bit disappointed because there were almost no questions from the audience and 99% of them had never heard of any of the tools I mentioned. This means that the big corps are now way past the threshold of being able to get rid of easily and painlessly, which is something I’m fighting for daily. Anyway, below you’ll see some photos from my workshop.

OSCAL 2019 presentation OSCAL 2019 presentation OSCAL 2019 presentation

The second day we also celebrated the release of Fedora 30, unfortunately breaking our tradition of having a cake, this time replaced this cupcakes for all the participants. Two goofy group photos are below.

OSCAL 2019 Fedora 30 Release Party OSCAL 2019 Fedora 30 Release Party

One sunny day someone from the local hackerspace asked me to make a funny writing that would be printed on some t-shirts. They sent a writing that said (in Albanian) - “Vdiqëëëëm”. Translated in English that would mean “We’re dying”, which you might think it’s weird, while yes, it is. The story behind it is a long one but to cut it short, it was a popular saying a while back for when we were tired during events. I didn’t think much about it and just went ahead and made a nice handwritten design with the word and sent it to them. To my suprise, they actually went ahead and printed the t-shirts and we wore them in front of the backdrop there. We got some looks from people and they asked about the meaning and then wanted one too, unfortunately those were limited edition ones 😜

OSCAL 2019 Vdiqem t-shirts

As always, at the end of the first day, we take a group photo, and here it is.

OSCAL 2019 Group photo

All in all, I think this was another successful edition of OSCAL and I can’t wait for the next one. There’s much more I didn’t cover here but I hope it’s a good overview of the event.

Photos are by Andis Rado, under CC-BY-SA 4.0

All other content, unless stated otherwise, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International).