On April 27, 1994, Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa in the country’s first democratic, post-Apartheid election. Known now as “Freedom Day,” that date has become a symbol of hope in South Africa and around the world. To commemorate this historic day, we’ve partnered with the Robben Island Museum and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory to bring the story of this UNESCO World Heritage Site online for the world to explore. The Maps gallery and Cultural Institute online tour allow people everywhere to see the island where Nelson Mandela and many of South Africa’s freedom fighters were imprisoned during their quest for equality.

As a symbol of South Africa’s struggle for freedom, Robben Island has become a destination for people to connect with Mandela and other freedom fighters. Standing in Mandela’s 8 x 7 foot prison cell, it's hard to believe someone could spend 18 years here. Exploring the historical artifacts on the tour, you can also see photographs of his cell during the time of his imprisonment. You can imagine Mandela sitting at the cramped desk, surrounded by books and papers, working towards a future of freedom for all.

Robben Island was also where activist Robert Sobukwe was imprisoned, kept in solitary confinement for more than three years after taking a stand against the Pass Law, which required black citizens to carry an internal passport and severely limited their mobility. Exploring Sobukwe’s home on Robben Island, you can learn more about the man who didn’t let prison halt his attempts to make equality a reality. You can even view the pages of his notebook, which is still kept on his desk today.

In the new online exhibitions on the Cultural Institute platform, you can also listen to prisoners’ personal anecdotes about life at this infamous prison, including memories of where they were forced to work as well as how they studied and came together to create a unified vision for freedom in South Africa. You can see some personal items donated by former political prisoners, including a football trophy from the their FIFA-recognized league, hand-drawn table tennis awards, a treasured trumpet, and a duplicate master key fashioned by a prisoner from lead.

Once a symbol of the oppressive Apartheid regime, Robben Island is now a memorial and a reminder of the human spirit’s irrepressible search for freedom. We hope you’ll take a moment to step back in time to explore and be inspired by the island’s story of hope and humanity.

The Official Google Blog

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On July Fourth, America celebrates its independence.

In the summer of 1776, 13 disenfranchised colonies spoke. It took days for their declaration to be printed and distributed throughout the colonies, and it took weeks for it to be seen across the Atlantic.

Today, such a document could be published and shared with the world in seconds. More than any time in history, more people in more places have the ability to have their voices heard.

Powering these voices are billions of Internet connections around the world—people on their mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. The Internet is a powerful platform that makes it easier for people to speak, to assemble, and to be heard. This is true no matter where freedom is taking root.

Yet we’ve only just begun to see what a free and open Internet can do for people and for the freedom we cherish.

Today we’re sharing a video we made to celebrate our freedom and the tools that support it. Please take a moment to watch it, share it with your friends, and add your voice.

Join us in supporting a free and open Internet.

The Official Google Blog

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Software Freedom Day + Hackathon

Saturday, September 17 is Software Freedom Day. To that end, a few announcements about this weekend’s hackathon and WordCamp Portland.

3.3 Hackathon

WordPress 3.3 is about to hit feature freeze. This means it’s the last chance to squeeze in features that haven’t quite been finished, and enhancements and fixes that no one has had time to address yet. Around this time, there are often dozens of tickets that have patches, but the patches have not been tested enough to be committed to core. Then the contributors who worked hard on the patches are disappointed that their code doesn’t make it into the current release. You can help us prevent this!

This weekend, we’ll be running a has-patch needs-testing marathon for the 3.3 milestone. Basically, we’re looking for people who can help test patches and/or refresh patches that need updating. Lead developers and core contributors will be hanging around in the #wordpress-dev channel on irc.freenode.net to answer questions as needed, and will be committing patches as they get enough verification. As you test the patches, report your findings on the trac tickets in question. If all developers who make a living working with WordPress helped out for even an hour or two this weekend, we could clear the 200 tickets or so that are in this situation. To make it fun, why not get together with other WordPress devs and have an in-person hackathon meetup?

WordCamp Portland

At WordCamp Portland this weekend, some of the WordPress core team will be in attendance, including me, Nacin, and Koop. In addition to giving presentations and participating in the unconference sessions, we’ll be involved with a couple of other cool things at WCPDX:

  • Hacker Room. There will be room set aside for people to work on core bugs and features slated for the 3.3 release. Hopefully PDX developers will hang out in here some of the time helping with the marathon.
  • Welcome Free Software Projects! Normally WordCamps are 100% focused on WordPress, but in light of Software Freedom Day, the WC PDX organizers, in conjunction with the WordPress Foundation, would like to extend an invitation to all free software projects to participate in WordCamp Portland. There are a couple of rooms set aside that can be used for unconference sessions and/or hacker rooms for other projects. It would be great to have local representatives from a bunch of projects there — almost a micro version of OS Bridge or OSCON — to maximize the free software love and cross-pollinate ideas. Developers from other projects are also welcome in the WP hackathon room if they’d like to pitch in. Saturday will also feature the Software Freedom Day Happy Hour at the end of sessions. For more information or to get your project involved, contact the event organizers via the WordCamp Portland website or email support at wordcamp dot org.
  • Usability Testing of 3.3 Alpha. As mentioned, we’re about to hit freeze, so we’ll be giving WordCamp Portland attendees a sneak peek at 3.3, seeing how they adjust to the new features, and getting feedback to help us with our last round of fixes before we get to Beta. There will be a signup sheet to participate.

So, if you live it the Portland/Seattle area and haven’t already bought a ticket to attend WordCamp Portland, hurry up, as it’s going to be a great celebration of Software Freedom Day and WordPress.

WordPress News

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