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Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 21:26:46 -0400
From: Ruben Safir
Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Its a war
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Editor's Note: It Is A War
Sep 12, 2008, 23 :02 UTC (0 Talkback[s]) (476 reads)
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)
by Carla Schroder
GNU is 25 years old this year, and every Linux user on the planet
should take a few minutes to eat a piece of birthday cake and give
thanks. Because it's more than just software. Glyn Moody addressed one
aspect of this in "The Real Reason to Celebrate GNU's Birthday":
"Scientists would typically write a paper for free, submit it to
a journal where other scientists would review it (for free) before the
paper was eventually published, but only to those who paid. Even the
copyright of the paper would belong to the publishing house. Most
ridiculously of all, perhaps, was the fact that the bulk of this
research was paid for the public, through tax-funded grants, and yet any
member of the public who wished to see that work had to pay again -- and
often extraordinarily high sums."
It's that exact mentality that FOSS makes war on. We're always
seeing headlines about war between Linux and Microsoft, between
Free/Open Source software and closed, proprietary code, war between open
exchanges of ideas and putting "intellectual property" under lock and
key. I used to think this was silly hyperbole, and I'll wager the
headline writers do too. But it isn't- it really is a war, and it goes
beyond merely having some meaningful choices in the computing
marketplace. It affects everything that touches us:
Like the right to do what we want with our own property.
Like our civil rights, because government, law enforcement, and
standards bodies would rather toady to proprietary moneyed interests
than put the public interest first.
Like public education- are schools going to teach our kids useful
skills and how to think, or crank out the next generation of
narrow-minded, narrowly-skilled, unquestioning cheap tech labor?
Like US democracy- Diebold changed the name of their voting machines
division, but they're still the same vote-thieving pieces of junk.
FOSS keeps people honest. That's the #1 reason there is such strong,
well-funded opposition to it. Honesty is Kryptonite to anyone who makes
their living peddling lies. The big lie that gets my goat every time is
these big tech companies that continually boast of their innovation. All
they innovate are stagnation and barriers to innovation. The poster
child for this is the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child). Whatever you may
think of OLPC itself, it spawned the netbook revolution. All those
titans of industry have had the resources since forever to invent the
netbook on their own. They all badmouthed and undermined OLPC. Now they
can't crank out their own OLPC ripoffs fast enough.
FOSS makes people brave, though some take longer than others.
Finally we're seeing the big-name PC vendors tiptoe into desktop Linux.
Though there is still considerable cowardice among hardware vendors, who
are openly supporting Mac OS X more, but are still chicken of Linux.
Yeah, I know all the objections, and they're all bogus- technical
difficulties have little to do with it.
Without FOSS we would not have Groklaw, nor any of the thousands
upon thousands of blogs and personal Web sites that write about all the
thousands of subjects that are not addressed anywhere else. This is a
real revolution, bigger than Gutenberg, because "freedom of the press
belongs to those who own one." And "information is power." Bad laws like
the DMCA, and the current ridiculous state of copyright law, and US
patent mess are more insidious than just protecting merchandise- they're
intentional restrictions on free speech. (See "Honesty is Kryptonite".)
We wouldn't even have Apple. Apple was withering until they built a
slick new interface on top of the Mach kernel and BSD.
This weekend I'm going to have a nice piece of birthday cake, and
hoist a glass of milk in a heartfelt toast to all the people in the FOSS
world- the famous ones, the un-famous ones, and everyone who contributes
in some way to the greater good. Call me a mossy old hippie, but I think
that's more worthy of celebration than going gaga over the latest shiny
widget from the reigning robber barons.
http://www.mrbrklyn.com - Interesting Stuff
http://www.nylxs.com - Leadership Development in Free Software
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998
http://fairuse.nylxs.com DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002
"Yeah - I write Free Software...so SUE ME"
"The tremendous problem we face is that we are becoming sharecroppers to our own cultural heritage -- we need the ability to participate in our own society."
"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt. I guess you missed that one."
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