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Hippies reclaim summer of code

Overthrow the soft-o-crats!

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Google, the internet's number-one search and advertising engine, is a 19,000-person multinational that coins in $18bn in annual revenue. The giant is this summer hosting its codefest Google Summer of Code.

At the other end of the scale is the little-known Riseup Labs. It, too, is offering a summer of code - Freedom Summer of Code - that it says is inspired by GSOC.

The difference? FSOC adds a, er "radical social justice twist."

"By pooling our efforts during the Freedom Summer of Code, we can take back technology from the monolithic proprietary soft-o-crats and create real, lasting change," the group's site said.

No names mentioned, but Riseup is based in Seattle, Washington - not a million miles away from the king of proprietary software, Microsoft. Also, it should be remembered, the inspiration for FSOC - Google - has a few proprietary algorithms of its own.

According to the FSOC web site, it's goals include inspiring developers to become more interested in "social-justice tech" organizations and increasing the "social ownership and democratic control" over information, ideas, technology.

Proposals for projects must be submitted by May 24, with the goal for coding by June and completion by September.

An undisclosed amount of funding is said to be available to support projects - although the organizers are keen to hear from other sponsors. As a non-profit organization, Riseup Labs said it can accept US tax-deductible donations and, echoing the anti-Vietnam war sentiments of an earlier generation of radicals, it notes: "The more you give to Riseup Labs, the less you will be giving to military conquest".

Riseup Labs describes itself as "the research arm" of the Riseup Collective. The group supplies "alternative" communication services such as Crabgrass, a free social networking application, and email. The group claimed 15,000 email users, 10,000 mail lists, one million list subscribers, and 50 hosted servers.®

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