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Keynote from Robert Lefkowitz. Liberal Software

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Robert Lefkowitz

The Free and Open Source Software movements are reinventing "software engineering" as a liberal art.  This paradigm shift portends social and cultural changes that we are only beginning to imagine.  There are many parallels to Europe at the end of the ninth century, and the emergence over the centuries of the idea of the liberal arts.  There are also some differences.  Perhaps by looking back far enough, we can learn from the past and imagine the impact that open source will have a thousand years from now -- a world in which reading and writing software is as commonplace as reading and writing books -- and the changes we need to make now to make that future a reality.

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Robert Lefkowitz (known as "r0ml") has spent a lifetime inside large corporate IT departments, teaching co-workers how to use computer technology more effectively. As he occasionally teaches by example, he sometimes produces working systems which have commercial applicability. He has an abiding interest in computer languages, having been paid to teach and write in a number of interesting and obscure languages; and a parallel interest in human languages (which remains a hobby). It is this passion for the languages of software that motivated him to become a speaker at Free and Open Source Software conferences. He is a Distinguished Engineer of the ACM, and holds a degree in Computer Science from M.I.T. He has recently taken up juggling.