Freedom Fone: THE BOOK!!!

Over the last week a team of dedicated individuals from across the globe gathered to partake in our epic Freedom Fone BookSprint 2011. We are proud to announce the result of our efforts - our new book: Freedom Fone. If you'd like a hard copy, order online from

How was this done? Well, lets just say it was a miracle.

Had I been asked before if it were possible for 11 people from 6 different countries - most of whom had never met before and some with very vague notions of what they were even there to do - and spirit them away up to the remote Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe to write a 30,000 word, comprehensive manual on Freedom Fone - I would have said: impossible! it's sheer and utter madness.

The risks of this crazy and Quixotic endeavour was evident from the start. Piling 11 souls and enough equipment to run a space station into one car and a mini-van and charging up to Nyanga where there is no mobile reception, no direct internet and constant power cuts. Occupying a room at the foot of the Ruparara for 5 days and hoping for everyone to get along, let alone produce a book! No pre-planning or agenda either!! Lunacy!!! Even the nobleman from La Mancha would have been impressed by our impossible feat.

So you may well wonder, what is a BookSprint? It is the facilitated process of harnessing the skills of a group of people with diverse skills and experiences to conceive, produce and publish a book online in 5 days. BookSprints are an innovative format pioneered by FLOSS Manuals to produce documentation for free and open source software. The process is greatly facilitated by FLOSS Manuals' collaborative writing and publishing platform, Booki.

Our team was eclectic to say the least. Our Zimbabwean contingent comprised Brenda Burrell, Tina Rolfe, Tichafara Sigauke and myself from Freedom Fone. We were also joined by Trevor Davis, founder of African Fathers Initiative and a consultant for Great Minds.

International participants were lead by our facilitator, Adam Hyde, the founder of FLOSS Manuals, who came from Berlin with Laleh Tarabi, a fantastic freelance illustrator. Olaf Dunn, an advisor and part-time developer for Freedom Fone traveled from Toronto to share his technical skill and knowledge of the software. Bart Sullivan, our earliest and most experienced deployer, traveled from Farm Radio International's office in Tanzania to share his invaluable insights of using Freedom Fone with radio stations in Tanzania, Ghana and now Mali. Elsa Caternet, partner and project director for Internews Europe, traveled from Paris. On the design side we were blessed with the creative spirit and keen eye of Lynne Stuart, a freelance illustrator from South Africa.

Thanks to Tina's amazing logistical support we managed to relocated to our remote venue with absolutely everything needed for an office away from the office. The impeccable hospitality and fabulous cuisine of the Inn on Rupurara kept us well fed through our long hours of work. Views from our balcony of the magical scenery - baboons, giraffe and the occasional eland kept us entertained and not infrequently distracted. Early morning energy boosting Yoga sessions led by Bart kept us in a positive, creative and cooperative frame of mind.

I invite you all to check out our book on FLOSS Manuals. It is not a finished product by any means. It is very much a living project that our team hopes will continue to evolve as our free software matures with the assistance of a diverse community of active users and developers. This book marks an important stage for Freedom Fone as we embark on the ever more epic journey ahead. We invite you all (Fred shamwaris, open-source aficionados, readers, strangers, cyber itinerants or simply the curious minded) to feel free to contribute to this ongoing story that is part of our ever-evolving journey into the future and beyond.

We thank everyone involved in the Freedom Fone Book Sprint 2011and hope that we can keep this project moving. It's been emotional. Fred loves you and may the spirit of Ruparara always be with you! Photos of the event online here.