In 1989 The GNU project introduced the GPL - not the first occurrence of a free software licence but arguably the most important. Yet today in 2012 we still have large sections of the computing industry which just doesn't get free software. I came across a glaring example of this today.
There has always been a section of the free software community which has an anti-Microsoft agenda. It's almost like their mission statement is "It's not over until Microsoft is dead". Certainly there is a lot of feeling that if Microsoft went away, a lot of our problem would be over. But do Microsoft even need to "lose"; is there even a battle to be fought and if so what would constitute winning it?
When we enter the world of “free and open source software”, most of us will choose one or the other philosophy. This choice is usually made easy by the people that guide us when we enter this world. We are at a point where the philosophies behind free software, which have been heralded by Richard M. Stallman and others, are threatened; as more people make the jump away from proprietary operating systems, less of them know about these philosophies. Fewer people will weigh the decision for themselves.
What is the difference?
My last two blogs dealt with issues that illustrate to me that some people have a functional disconnect with the philosophy, and spirit, of what I feel is really what the Free Software movement should be about. For many "freedom" seems merely to be mostly a slogan, not a guiding principle to consistently adhere to, and a reality to produce. Here's what I think many people are missing.
Lately, I've been thinking about what the free software movement is really about. Is it really just a bunch of guys who work with code, releasing it under a particular type of license? We seem to talk a great deal about "freedom" and insist that what separates free software from open source or proprietary is this philosophical, ethical, and legal insistence on total freedom for the user. All right; but is this all there is to it?
As a former founder/CEO of a paranoid technology company developingproprietary enterprise software, one would think "free" software and Iwouldn't mix any better than wax and water. After fighting lawsuits torecover my "stolen" software, the idea of ownership is etched into mypsyche. Hence the paranoia in my company... NDAs, trade secrets andpatent interests. The business models around giving software away havemade me confused. Funny though what time spent curled up withfreesoftware magazine will do. I have recently become a strong convertand advocate for the free software movement.
There’s no point in having a world full of “ethical” but unemployed artists. I think there is an ethical compulsion for people with talent to use their talent (artistic talent is power which carries responsibility). And, since making money at doing it is frequently a requirement for that to happen sustainably, then making money at doing your art is also an imperative.
Singularity of the soul and the myth of consciousness
Okay, I've laid a bit of groundwork for this with my last few blogs, and now I'm going to talk about something they do say you never should: my religion. It's not something I talk about much, and indeed, I'm probably known for avoiding the subject. That's because it tends to be a sticky and involved conversation if I address it fairly. Curiously, this does actually have consequences for free software. Richard Stallman likes to talk about the ethical reasons for writing it; Eric Raymond likes to talk about the pragmatic reasons; but here I intend to address a spiritual reason for doing so.
The other day I saw a filler article in an Aussie newspaper that was all about blogging (I would give you guys a link but firstly, I can’t remember which paper, and secondly, it really was a fluff piece). The theme was something along the lines of “Hey, there are billions of blogs out there now. Who reads them? What’re they all about?