Attitude and Philosophy   view as chat

This page is a good place to start. Source Camps are more than just workshops, they are based on a philosophy of sharing, learning from each other, and building communities. Read on to find out what we mean by that.

Source Camps got attitude!

"Source Camps teach an attitude. A different way of looking at technology. Geek-culture!"

Source Camps aim to demistify technology by bringing members of civil society together for hands-on sharing and learning. Technology is a tool (not a master). Source Camps deal with FOSS not so much in the context of software, but in the context of a different mind-set that emphasises sharing, and collaboration.

"After seven days everyone emerged as one familiy. Even today people still keep in touch." Fred Noronha (speaking about AsiaSource)

Source Camps have a unique open source / peer-to-peer approach to learning and teaching. They are designed to maximise opportunities for peer learning, as opposed to teaching by experts. The success of Source Camps ultimately depends on the right mix of people. Participants are carefully selected to ensure high levels of motivation and a mix of backgrounds. The facilitators set the stage for each event without dominating.

How Source Camps came about

Source Camps were developed to connect the open source software community and non-profit organisations in developing countries. Tactical Technology Collective identified the lack of development and use of FOSS by NGOs and decided to bring people together to do something about it in their regions.

"[T]he main gap we see is that there is a lot of talk between technology and NGOs but very little work [is being done] at the practical level. Conferences take place, but nobody on the ground knows how to implement it." Stephanie Hankey

In order to change that, Source Camps are practical, hands-on workshops at the grassroots level. They address three key obstacles to FOSS adoption:

  1. The need for local support,
  2. The lack of awareness and marketing of FOSS, and
  3. the lack of a self-supported local community of practitioners.

Additional Information:

Previous Source Camps

The first Source Camp was held in Croatia, in September 2003. Since then, Camps have taken place in Namibia, India, Tajikistan and Uganda. Future Source Camps are planned to take place in Middle East/North Africa, South/East Asia.

The best way to learn about Source Camps is to read about previous ones, and browse through the wikis created by participants and facilitators during the camps (wikis are not available for the first two camps).

If you would like to read more about source camps please follow those links

The philosophy behind Source Camp teaching and learning

"The most powerful tool you brought to this event is your voice. Use it often. It is not ok to be a spectator!" Gunner

The workshops focus on learning by doing, rather than just listening. The aim is to create more of a "workshop vibe" as opposed to a "conference vibe". The location (in the countryside or on an Island), shared housing, and nature of the sessions ensure high energy levels and strong, active participation. Source Camps create an atmosphere conducive to learning and fostering longer-term relationships. They are specifically designed to foster community building.

The participatory approach to training is challenging for those used to more traditional workshops, in which experts present knowledge to an audience. At Source Camps there is no distinction of experts and audience: everyone is part of the community of peers who are sharing experience and expertise, and learning from each other. It is crucial to invite facilitators (our term for trainers) who understand and can support these kinds of self-organised learning networks.

"While it is difficult for some people to let go of the idea of 'experts', there will never be an 'expert panel' discussion at Source events." Marek

The workshops are lead by a core group of facilitators that has emerged over the course of the last few years, together with a range of facilitators from the respective region. All facilitators have strong experience of working in the non-profit sector and deploying free and open source solutions.

"These are not the hard-core geek types that scare users away when they earnestly and helpfully try to explain why Asynchronous JavaScript And XML is really going to rock their world; rather, these are the peacemakers who spend much of their professional (and often personal) lives brokering a gentle understanding between entirely non-technical end users and the technology tools that they either need to use to get their jobs done, or the technology tools they should use to do their jobs better." Janet Haven on her blog

Although facilitators are specifically invited, there is no clear division between participants and facilitators. This approach softly encourages a culture in which expertise is exchanged and people learn from each other. Through this, participants come to realise that there is enough experience in the field, and peer communities are strengthened and built.

"I learned a lot about the needs of NGO's from around the world, and even more about the key issues that make Free Software and Open standards so important everywhere in the world. In a sense, the inspiration to take one more step away from running a company and towards starting an NGO for real, came from the Summer Source camp." Tomas Krag, head of the Danish NGO and facilitator guru

More information:

Good facilitation is the key to Source Camp success. Please have a look at Facilitation Source Camp-Style for more information on our approach to teaching and learning and some practical guidelines on how to implement it at your event, including notes on finding the right facilitators.

Source Camp outcomes

"Africa Source 2 was a spectacular event that has ever happened in my life. It was amazing meeting so many people willing to share out knowledge with others at absolutely no cost. One of the biggest inspiration for me in Africa Source II was making friends and networking with lots of people, 'the geeks'. I was a techie volunteer and i was among the guys who set up and managed the network at the source camp." Evelyn Namara on her blog

The focus on community building is a conscious move to encourage the formation of new ideas and relationships during events. Source Camps are catalysts for future projects and partnerships between participants and event partners. This is demonstrated by the high level of self-organised post-event follow-up and collaboration between participants. The development of local networks supporting each other can be seen on the mailing lists, and concrete outcomes range from a suite of FOSS projects in Tajikistan (four training events, a roundtable, a Tajik version of linux, a FOSS resource centre and now a regional Central Asian FOSS training and networking event is in planning) through to new partnerships between software developers, technical support groups and school networking organisations (this was the case in Uganda when three organisations collaborated to successfully set up 250 refurbished computers in schools, implementing a Norwegian educational distribution called Skolelinux).

"First, I believe we succeeded in strengthening the social network of FOSS practitioners in Africa. This is essential for building FOSS capacity in Africa; participants now have relationships and contact
information for those who can help them to move forward in their migration to FOSS technologies. Second, more than 120 participants left AS II with practical, hands-on experience and know-how about migrating NGOs and schools to FOSS. These skills include assessment, planning, deployment, configuration, training, and support." Allen 'Gunner' Gunn


Source Camps are characterised by a willingness to share and participate - among organisers, facilitators and participants. Volunteering to work together to make the workshop a success helps foster group integration and creates a sense of responsbility. Some examples include:

  • As facilitators arrive at the Camp on the day before the workshop begins, they get a tour and introduction by the small group that set up the Camp. They are then expected to welcome the next group of arrivers, and so on.
  • If possible, participants help in the kitchen and make sure the Camp is clean from rubbish. This is not always feasible as it depends on the agreement with caterers and the venue.
  • Participants help prepare the venue for sessions, copy and compile the Welcome Pack, and are encouraged to involve themselves as much as possible.

Last edited by: phi