Tag Archives: politics

Does the FSF need better top-down social skills?

Larry Cafiero and Joe Brockmeier are two big voices for technological freedom. They’re both pretty fired up about RMS’s f-you epitaph of Jobs.

Generally you want the figurehead of a public foundation to be, uh, attractive. Intellectually, maybe even physically. Right? Not only does the cause itself have to make sense, these people need to attract other people to their cause. And they usually “say the right things”, smile, wear a suit, whatever. But I always thought these requirements only applied to other causes (besides Free Software).

Certainly RMS lacking those traits didn’t keep me from FLOSS. I heard about RMS and the proprietary printer a while back, and that’s all it took to get me hooked on FLOSS. I could identify immediately because I write software, and proprietary code is a pain. His cause just makes sense, even if he doesn’t. But I’ve been justifying his abnormal behavior because, well, he started something new! Something important. He knew it was important, and dedicated his life to this thing that many, many folks never even know exists. Something that affects all our lives, every day, more and more. Software must support our Freedom, or we are not free.

So he won me over, but I’m a nerd. I’m used to eccentrics in my field. Truth wins, period. And I still don’t know if it matters if RMS is a polished, smiley, public-friendly dude or not. Would Free Software be farther along today if RMS were kinder, more respectful, or somehow a better “public figure”? Would DRM have never been allowed to exist? Would the government pass laws that software for implanted medical devices be Free?

Eben Moglen on Technology and Freedom

I’ve been enjoying strolling through the FLOSS Weekly archives; a collection of one-on-one interviews with key players in FLOSS. Here’s a quote that really speaks to why FLOSS is something to pay attention to:

“Free as in Freedom” is a really important concept. That is, technology really as to be free in some important ways if people are to have political freedom.

– Eben Moglen, speaking on the GPL version 3 during FLOSS Weekly interview.