Don't just Make, Do!

Location: Portland Ballroom
Average rating: ****.
(4.14, 21 ratings)

If you’re running Linux or a similar FL/OSS OS then you’re already following Mahatma Ghandi’s maxim: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. But often it’s not enough to simply take part, you have to take action for real change to occur. In 2009, I led a campaign to make the British Government apologize for the mistreatment of computer scientist, code breaker and mathematician Alan Turing. The campaign succeeded through a mixture of old media and new, Perl scripts and Wikipedia, and by not following Emperor Palpatine’s plea to “give in to your anger”, but to channel it.

This talk tells the behind-the-scenes story of the apology campaign complete with source code, tips on dealing with the old-school media, how Twitter helped and didn’t, and a call for people who want to change the world to be “reasonably unreasonable” because nothing ever gets done by the reasonable.

Photo of John Graham-Cumming

John Graham-Cumming


John Graham-Cumming is a computer programmer and author. He studied mathematics and computation at Oxford and stayed for a doctorate in computer security. As a programmer he has worked in Silicon Valley and New York, the UK, Germany, and France. His open source POPFile program won a Jolt Productivity Award in 2004. John is the author of a travel book for scientists published in 2009 called The Geek Atlas, and has written articles for The Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, New Scientist, and other publications.

He can be found on the web at and on Twitter as @jgrahamc.

If you’ve heard of him at all, it’s likely because in 2009 he successfully petitioned the British Government to apologize for the mistreatment of British mathematician Alan Turing.

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Harish Pillay
07/28/2011 12:12pm PDT

The replacement talk was appropriate. Thanks.

Ed Sweeney
07/28/2011 6:37am PDT

was already aware of the tragic story and apology but glad to hear it again. can’t imagine a more relevant story to accompany the issuing of the ‘code of conduct’