Software, free to be political



It keeps coming up lately, but not quite like this. Free Software is an Abject Failure sounds inflammatory, but please go read, and consider the arguments. Warning: it's long.

Did you? Good. Now you know how people fight and win Communist revolutions only to become dictators and install a totalitarian regime with centralized economy instead of the Communism they promised.

Tip: even a commons has owners. It doesn't "belong to everybody". At the very least, resources need caretakers. And one thing any caretaker must do is fend off vandals. That's exclusionary by definition. It has to be, in order to keep those resources in good condition for everyone else's benefit.

The fires of idealism are necessary to set things in motion. But they must be tempered by the cold shower of pragmatic concerns, lest you burn down the very thing you were trying to build.

Funny how software proves yet again to be a social, which is to say political, issue. You know, as opposed to an exercise in abstraction, somehow divorced from its real-world uses.

I don't have any solutions. The Commons Clause, an add-on for liberal licenses, looks like it could help. And the Artistic License 2.0 is a statement I like. But ultimately we need to figure out better ways of working together, because neither law nor tech are enough by themselves.

There are still good ways and bad ways to do it. Don't turn into a dinosaur.


Tags: software, politics