[RRI Good Practice] PSSOH Conference on Application of Free Software, Open Hardware, and Representation of Women in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

What is the good practice about?

The PSSOH conference (srl. Primena Slobodnog Softvera i Otvorenog Hardvera) was established in 2018 at the University of Belgrade – School of Electrical Engineering with the aim to nurture national gatherings and to promote free software, open hardware, and women in electrical engineering and computer science. PSSOH hosts invited speakers, researchers and entrepreneurs from Serbia and worldwide as it is a dual language conference with both Serbian and English being official languages. With the desire to empower free exchange of experiences and opinions without limitations, PSSOH is exclusively organized by volunteers and it is free of charge for speakers and attendees.

Why is this initiative needed?

The relevance of the PSSOH conference is in the up-to-date topics related to the application of free software and open hardware in both academy and industry, as well as in the promotion of gender equality. PSSOH conference was initially modelled after the LibrePlanet conference and after traditional values of free software initiative, but in the last five years PSSOH acquired its own distinctive ingredients leading to establishment of a unique national trademark. Besides a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere that sparked dialogue among representatives from industry and academia, it gathered at first glance diverse vocations with the common goal – to discuss diverse aspects of software and hardware. Social, cultural, and technological aspects of free software, open hardware, women in tech, and other topics were presented by engineers, physicists, librarians, mathematicians, philosophers, psychologists, journalists, linguists, etc. In addition to the one day track of invited lectures and Q&A slots, PSSOH conference hosted numerous practical and hands-on workshops on Wikipedia editing, R and Python programming, home servers, SymPyCAP, Linux installation, Klimerko open hardware, symbolic circuit analysis on Android, open research data, and copyright for researchers.

The workshop on open research data practices in 2019 was one of the most successful, as its fruitful discussion led to the establishment of open research data group at the University of Belgrade that resulted, among others, in the establishment of the first Serbian dummy Dataverse open data repository coined SERDAR. A great deal of collaborations have been established and the Editorial board keeps only partly records of all results from inaugurated alliances that were initiated at this gathering. Overall, quite amazing numbers were presented for the fifth jubilee PSSOH conference in 2022 by Assoc. Prof. Nadica Miljković on behalf of the PSSOH Editorial board.

  • The full report is freely available on Zenodo repository (doi: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7228080) and here some selected quantitative results: From 2020 onwards, the conference organizers established plenary session with distinguished guests that presented their talks in 2020, 2021, and 2022: Italo Vignoli (one of the founders and team members of The Document Foundation and main spokesperson), Calista Redmond (CEO at RISC-V International), and Prof. Aleksandar Kavčić (Founder of the “Alek Kavčić” Foundation);
  • Overall, 51 males and 40 females held invited talks and/or organized workshops (excluding Editorial board members) from 2018 to 2022;
  • The number of views of full papers on September 18, 2022 was 14,745 and the number of views of other publicly available PSSOH documents was 11,305 and these numbers are still growing.

It is worth mentioning the influence of one of the PSSOH conference papers (Miljković, Nadica, Trisovic, Ana, & Peer, Limor. (2022). Towards FAIR Principles for Open Hardware. PSSOH Conference, pp. 90–101. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6506428) that was the core for the established RDA (Research Data Alliance) Interest Group FAIR4RH (Fair Principles for Research Hardware, https://www.rd-alliance.org/groups/fair-principles-research-hardware).

What are the main objectives?

The founders of the conferences aimed to contribute to the broader selection of national events. The decision to create a vivid and welcoming atmosphere, as well as to gather diverse stakeholders and representatives was reasoned decision. Technological advancements may bring both benefits and restrictions not just to professionals in academia and industry, but to the general public as well. Open discussions on adoption of free software and open hardware and their implications to the society in general, brought broader selection of topics that shaped the PSSOH conference today. Gender equality, free textbooks, and open science topics were expected extension of PSSOH themes, and are followed by less obvious topics such as sustainability of free software solutions, open architecture, policies, availability and critical decisions related to the fake news, as well as future librarian roles.

What are the main activities?

PSSOH conference is one day yearly event that comprises plenary session and invited talks, as well as optional workshop day with either theoretical aspects of up-to-date topics or with hands-on approach. The main objective is to introduce the audience to the ever expanding applications of free software and open hardware that are now in the general focus in academia thanks to the global open science momentum and in focus in industry thanks to the alluring open source related business models. Additionally, the conference provides a unique opportunity for practitioners to present their findings, research results, discuss experiences, and share knowledge and practices.

Who is involved?

From the very beginnings of the PSSOH establishment in 2018, the Editorial Board has been striving to create and to cherish a welcoming atmosphere for all interested parties. The PSSOH Scientific Board continuously grows and now includes representatives from University of Belgrade, University of Ljubljana, University of Kragujevac, University of Banja Luka, Technical Institute of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, University of Montenegro, and representative from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development in the Republic of Serbia. Moreover, PSSOH conference is partnering with other institutions and organizations, to mention some: Free Software Foundation Europe, Descon, BeFEM, LiBRE! magazine, R-Ladies, LibrePlanet, Wikimedia Serbia, BalCCon, Fedora Serbia, AMRES, etc.

PSSOH is socially responsible conference. The founders agreed that the conference fee will be never charged and that personal profit cannot be made out of it. As PSSOH was established at the University of Belgrade – School of Electrical Engineering, the Editorial and Organizational boards rely on the institutional assistance and logistics. Additionally, continuous and indulgent help from Academic Mind acting as co-publisher and sponsor of the conference proceedings is very appreciated by the organizers. Other interested institutions also supported PSSOH conference throughout its existence either logistically or monetary mostly by providing resources for preparation of promotional materials.

Can this good practice be replicated?

All conference materials are available online in Serbian and/or English, and licensed under CC (Creative Commons) licenses. The reuse by any interested party is strongly encouraged and will be generously supported by the conference boards.

Further links:

Relevant RRI keys: Gender Equality in Research and Innovation (R&I), Science Education, Open Access, Open Science, Open Data

Type of practice: Publications/promotional material, Participation in public policy/researches/studies, Organisation of conferences, panels, round-tables

Target groups: researchers (starting from PhD-candidates, on the individual level), universities, research performing organisations, research and innovation funding organisations, students (up to Master level), research administratio

Geographical focus
  • General/no specific focus
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by POLICY ANSWERS Project support on January 11, 2023
Modified on January 11, 2023