Video: Why Free Software Matters

This is my response to some very good comments on my last video entry which I felt should be addressed with another vlog entry.

I’ve attempted to explain why Free Software is politically important, as much as open source is important to creators; we must be supportive of Free Software for user reasons and not just consider our own hacker culture issues.

Video Problems: Go directly to the video on here and download the source mp4 here.

Personal: The reason for begging your indulgence with the video blogs is that I’m inspired to practice my speaking skills in order to further eliminate my stammer. From a young age I was bullied and called names and I have gotten much better since, but seeing The Kings Speech really brought it all back for me.

Money or Belief

Which is more powerful?

Say we have a software project in the FOSS community and say it needs to have 5 developers work on it, spending a total of 90 developer days between them in order to get it to a usable state. That’s a fairly large amount of work and most people will dismiss the project, as it’s not in a usable state.

This is the FOSS bootstrapping problem. If you can’t find a way to boot your project, then you’ll be toiling on it for years. Slowly becoming more behind with the technology. Most programmers don’t want to do that.

To solve this you can inject money into the problem. Get a decent amount of investment at the start a simply pay programmers to make the thing work. This is a good way to do it as I like it when programmers get paid.

Otherwise your going to have to drum up some community support and it’s going to need an awful lot of faith in the leader, the project idea and the prospects of it succeeding. Telling a bunch of people that it will succeed with their help is rather hard if you need a bunch of people to all believe it in order for it not to be a lie.

But, isn’t money just faith too? sure your not investing your time any more, but your investing your money and in some quarts that may be worse. Does this mean that we should be able to start interesting projects or does this mean that we have to gradually, very slowly work our way up to the goal with small pieces, evolve them forward with what we have to prove their worth first?

Your thoughts?

Pirates and Control

There have been a number of articles recently about pirates and using Free and Open Source software and it’s certainly an interesting consideration. In my opinion the problem is that people shouldn’t be fleeing a life with pirated software that’s being removed from their use (I’d say control, but users of software that is possible to pirate never really had control) by fleeing towards FOSS substitutes and I’m reminded of a quote today:

“It’s easier to understand what your running from than what your running into”

But that’s the other problem isn’t it, lots of people _still_ think Free Software is freeware. That price and immediate satisfaction are the only worthy considerations in software. Will attracting people who don’t have FOSS education into the community with the promise of free (as in water) software really help understanding why it was dumb to invest in proprietary software in the first place? Won’t they just go back to their chains with the first new gizmo *iphone* that comes along to dazzle them?

“That’s the problem with freeing people. Once you’ve freed the people they tend to do things you think are a bad idea, including making themselves slaves again.”

Shouldn’t we be trying to teach users _why_ they should support FOSS principles that:

  • Scientifically peer reviewed engineering is better.
  • Group collaboration is more efficient.
  • User participation is more effective.
  • Transparency is more trustworthy.
  • Openness is more educationally valuable.
  • Freedom means greater self control.
  • Multiple rights holders reduces artificial restrictions.
  • Enlightened self interest funds development and progress.
  • And that this ownership means a choice between self reliance and support.

I’d be happier about us going out there into the world helping people with piracy problems to use Ubuntu, “Linux” or other Free and Open Source Software is along with these technical marvels we could explain why and how they exist in the first place instead of just pretending that the magic community did it.

Your Thoughts?