politics

Book Review: No Safe Harbor by the US Pirate Party

When I first heard the expression "Pirate Party", I was sure it was some kind of a joke. When I found out they were actually getting elected to representative seats in Europe, though, I certainly started taking the idea seriously. But could a political party in the USA actually get somewhere with a name like the "United States Pirate Party". Certainly not without a good platform introduction -- and that's what this book of essays is all about.

OpenOffice.org is Dead, Long Live LibreOffice -- or, The Freedom to Fork

One of the most controversial freedoms of free software is the right to simply take the code and go make your own competing project -- what is popularly called a "fork". It's controversial because it seems like a betrayal of the original developer; because it distributes resources into competing groups, which may waste effort; and because it may create confusion in the marketplace of ideas that is free software distribution. But it is a critical freedom to have, and the recent fork of LibreOffice from OpenOffice.org, like the fork of X.org from Xfree86 years ago, shows why it's so important.

An open letter to Victoria A. Espinel, US "IP Czar"

Earlier today (March 24th, 2010), I submitted this response to the IPEC call for public comment on future Intellectual Property enforcement policy. Given the short notice (only six days!), I was not able to come up with a more detailed response, but I did want to express my dismay at the way these policies are being framed.

The Bittersweet Facts about OLPC and Sugar

Recently, I had to fact-check some older articles I wrote about One Laptop Per Child in order to bring them up to date. This meant digging through the controversy in 2008, and what I found was some pretty appalling human behavior. That's the "bitter". The "sweet" is that both OLPC and Sugar (now separate projects) are both doing a lot of good in the world. Sugar, in particular, is doing a better job of connecting with the community. That's a challenge for us in the community to step up and do a much better job connecting with Sugar. We need to make it the best thing ever, and that's going to mean more than lip service. So we all need to get it installed and start contributing.

A glimmer of hope from whitehouse.gov

Politicians in general are not terribly tech-savvy, let alone conscious of the most important intellectual freedom issues, but President Barack Obama does have a reputation of being more aware than most of the new media and new possibilities of the internet. The new US presidential website shows some promise that indeed, we now have a US president who isn't afraid of the future.

Free Software and the State of the World

Today I want to talk about free and open source software in connection with the them and us feeling that I believe is widely felt all over the world.

Initially you might think that these two topics have nothing to do with each other but hopefully by the end of this post you will understand that these two topics are actually connected in many complex ways.

An open letter to Barack Obama and the DNC (or, change video formats)

Senator Barack Obama and the Democractic National Convention Committee,

In his campaign speeches, Senator Obama often evokes images of citizen participation in the governmental process. He proclaims that his message of hope is built on the foundation of mutual respect, and the prospect of working together to return the government to the hands of the people.

Is Senator Obama earnest in these rhetorical statements? Or is this simply campaign slogans flung about with feigned sincerity, to be discarded once the US Presidential election is over?

Free Software - is it a political question?

Think, for a moment, about what the free software community looks like from the external gaze. "Bloody Communists" - I've never actually had a businessman say this to me when I've been explaining free software, but I'm sure they've thought it. I suppose the smarter ones might have thought "anarcho-syndicalists". Choosing to use free software may be simply economic, but contributing to any such project is surely a political statement.

So what is this statement? I'm not the person to write your statement, but I can offer mine.

Fight Microsoft's lobbying of the world's governments: call to free and open source millionaires

The free and open source software community has witnessed, over and over again, how far a visit to the right government officials can go. Bill Gates seems to know the game, and what cards he should play in every occasion to "make things happen".

Over the last few years, it was apparent to us that making good software and creating good standards was just not enough to fight such a strong political presence. How could the free and open source world fight this?

Here is the proposal, in a nutshell (for the lazy readers): creating a fund aimed at informing government officials and prime ministers in the world about free software, and making sure that they receive similar benefits as they would if they chose to push for a Microsoft contract.

Open source, terrorism, politics and Zen

This is a slightly different post this week. I haven’t found anything of technical note to talk about and only discovered some of the power of Ruby on Rails this week, but have not had the chance to explore it much, but on the surface it looks awesome.

What I did discover while checking things out in cyberspace is three interesting open source models for different areas. War, politics and religion. Just the stuff we like to discuss at the dinner table. No doubt there are many blogs on open source sex, but that’s a dinner table conversation I’m not going to cover today.

Free software and politics in Yankeetown

The picturesque village of Yankeetown on Florida’s Nature Coast has been the recent target of a large time-sharing resort condominium development proposal. Several townsfolk looked into the development and discovered what appeared to be corrupt practices in the town government. A loosely organized group of citizens decided to coordinate and share information via a web presence. Beyond any expectations, the picture albums, message boards, and mailing lists they used have been the catalyst for gaining state-wide attention and have led to direct intervention from the Governor’s office.

Preaching to the non-converted: FOSS and political activism

Bruce Byfield of Linux.com has a great editorial up about Why FOSS isn’t on activist agendas. Bruce points out that although FOSS enthusiasts are great at discussing their “shared values” within their own niche, they’re not very good at reaching out to the broader community—particularly folks over 40 who tend to be more active and influential in politics than the under 30 “techie” crowd:

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