I recently had my fourtieth birthday. When I announced it to a group, a woman came up to me to tell me how brave I was to admit to my age. I found it strange. I'm not ashamed to be this old. In fact, I'm glad about it. When I was a teenager, everyone said that the World War III would have happened by now, and I would be living in a post-apocalyptic anarchic civilization like in the movie Road Warrior. I really prefer how things turned out.
The past-future that I was supposed to have been in today had lots of loss and danger. I would have to fight tooth and nail for necessities like food and gas, and if I did suceed at running a farm to feed myself and my family, I would be under constant threat from raiders. I would use my cyberpunk hacking skills, that I had learned to fight evil corporations, to cobble together machines from the ancient technology that would make it possible to survive.
I expected that at fourty I would be like Aunty Entity in Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome
We would sit in the sand with scarves wrapped around our heads looking over the dusty horizon and thinking back to the days when people wore Izods and aspired to drive the next model Lexus. "Oh, what fools they were," we cried. Then we climbed back underground to fix the water condensors.
Our goal in this post-apocalyptic society was to slowly rebuild. To pass through anarchy and make a better society that would not think of destroying the world again. We would do this by cooperating. By sharing. After fighting off the violent selfish throwbacks, we would form communities where, with hope, we would share and use our talents to make the world better.
Techies like myself were essential in that regard. Making sure that software stayed free and open by hacking into the computer systems of any evil corporatation that survived; by broadcasting code, and making sure technology was free for the masses. OK so I'm mixing stories here. That last bit was more Johnny Mnemonic, but open-coded software and freedom of information were big ideals for us then, and many people didn't think that free software would ever really happen.
So you can see how happy I am to live in the world we have today, where we haven't fallen completely into anarchy, and yet have free software. That even without the destruction of civilization to drive us, we are working together to make necessary software with open sourced code. That in today's world people contribute their work freely. Sharing software to make the world a better place, and I don't have to fight in the Thunderdome to make it happen.
So I rejoice that civilization did not fall as expected, and I can enjoy my birtday by posting on a world-wide internet using free software whose code is known and not owned by the evil corporations. What a happy birthday! I'm looking forward to next year.