The idea is to *compute* our computing liberties as they were the past month time and as they are now. This means that we will review and comment major free software related events happening last month and their impact on our computing freedoms, that is, mainly our software freedoms.
Since this is the first edition of new "Computing Our Liberty" monthly "look-back commentary and announcements article" i would first like to introduce you to it. The idea is to *compute* our computing liberties as they were the past month time and as they are now. This means that we will review and comment major free software related events happening last month and their impact on our computing freedoms, that is, mainly our software freedoms. We will talk about power, justice, moral, irony, comedy, facts, FUD and other more or less disturbing things about events from within the turbulent world of computing.
So where do we start? Maybe by making out a picture of the IT world as it looks like today. And indeed it looks very colorful. I don't know an area of human activities that is as interesting and exciting as the IT world is today. And probably one of the greatest reasons for it is the continuing surge of Free Software both in business and a way of thinking. Those two things actually go pretty much together.
Free Software has probably caused the *most wars* or the *biggest war* that ever got ignited in the "IT industry". MS "empire" actually got a *real* competitor and to make it more interesting it is not even some kind of a new bombastic corporation with the new killer product. It's a new business model, disruptive, efficient, hardly beatable, operating on a different scale and up on another dimension.. virtually untouchable to anyone that tries to compete it with anything from "downthere". And it is spurred by a very different way of thinking which, obviously being shared by the free software "warrior" (advocates) camps, starts to light some bulbs above the heads of others whose battle field are the green landscapes of "profitland" (present capitalist market). And there they are, IBM and HP "love" linux, Novell fell in love so much that it even bought one of its breeds and RedHat and Mandrakesoft are the old folks who discovered that love way before. Everyone seems to be giving in to the Free Software currents more or less, everyone except MS (unless of course you *really* dare to think of "shared source" as Free Software) and Sun.
Wait a minute, Sun you say? Isn't it that Sun just decided to "open source" it's own operating system? Isn't it giving in to the currents of Free Software? Heck, they even wrote their own "open source" license!
Yeah, all that is pretty true indeed, except one thing. Is Sun really "giving in" to the Free Software currents or is it rather trying to play it's own game? I think it is more likely the latter. Their license is the key issue here. Being incompatible with GPL and having that "patent license" feature it is also a license that is designed to put Sun at the center of the community being the main end profiteer instead of allowing for a truly free and cooperative community where everyone can fairly gain according to it's contributions. Now, in my humble opinion Sun is trying to be a "smartass". It wont just let go, it wants to ripe the benefits of cooperative Free Software community without really be an equal part of it. It wants to sit in a two chairs and in my opinion, it will slip.
This is where i'll shut up about it and let you hear the voices of a community. Yes you can hear what community shouts about OpenSolaris... You can hear things like "who's gonna use it", "it's not free as in freedom", "OpenWhat?", "just another vaporware"... Alright, you get the point. In the end, you never know.. maybe, just maybe Sun will actually be somewhat successful in creating an "open source" alternative to "real open source" (or better yet Free Software) and "GNU/Linux" as it's king. We are not against competition. Being cooperative, Free Software community provides the best environment for the healthiest competition. But for the sake of my own computed liberty, i wont support it, you decide for yourself.
Another thing you should decide about very often these days is *who to trust*, *what to trust* or *do i need to listen to it afterall*. Let me ask you. Are you afraid? Are you uncertain? Are you doubtful? Do you know when have you been deliberately scared and disinformed? There are some entities in the IT world who are very *uneasy* about that Free Software surge, entities whose battlefield, "profitland" (present capitalist market), poses no rules to the way battle is fought and thus it falls to all kinds of "dirty tricks" to achieve its victory. Free Software being the strongest opponent to such entities is the target and a victim of such dirty tricks. And the most prominent "trick" these days is so called "FUD", Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt spread about the choice and use of Free Software instead of the opposing unfree software. You know who's that entity, who's the "beast" (if you will), Microsoft Corp. Face it, most of the disinformation being spread today is about direct competitors to Microsofts products (Firefox vs. MS IE, GNU/Linux vs. Windows, OpenOffice.org vs. MS Office etc.). Either we're gonna watch them brainwash people to serve their interests or we're gonna respond, counteract and crush all chances of every FUD being a successful one.
That said, heads up for FUDZilla, a beast that eats FUD and spews fire to light up the real facts. In reality FUDZilla is a project that actually does exactly that. It enables anyone to submit an article for which he/she thinks is spreading FUD and disinformation along with an explanation, a response, that "lights up the real facts" about the matter. Still, of course, it is good to post a response in form of a comment to that article or at least hyperlink to the response in FUDZilla (fudzilla.libervis.com).
And as we are, computing our liberty, talking about community projects, let's compute this. What do we get when bunch of us decides to discuss an issue or issues on forums creating dozens of long forum threads, copy's the most argumentative posts to one long wiki page and starts buzzing around it editing and polishing the resulting material? We get a cooperatively written article on libervis.com. An article being discussed and worked on for months now, forged under the presumption that "we are not the owners of truth; what is to be glimpsed, created, written and further developed is a collective endevour, such as Linux, Apache, and other Free Software projects. At most our role here is that of promoting new ways of viewing reality and acting on it." written by the actual initiator of the libervis cooperative article, our respected fellow, Jose Monserrat Neto.
The issue being glimpsed, discussed and written about is expanding the Free Software development model as well as an ideology to all other areas of human production and economy by freeing all human knowledge the same way as Free Software is free as in freedom under the Free Software licenses. I do not need to "disclose" anything further here. The article is still in development (finishing phases) and will be released as finished soon. You can always check on the progress anyway and even join as an author yourself.
And if you are a free creative soul there is another community project you might want to get involved it. Libervis Art Contest is showing the power of Free Software graphic design tools used by liberated people to create cool, amazing and beautiful images and possibly get rewarded and well reputed for doing so. Besides, our gallery is always open for new art made out of liberated computing as well as shots of your liberated computer desktop.
I hear someone shout in the public.. Is that all? You're supposed to "compute" our liberty, what about patents? Aren't those the biggest threat to our computing liberty? Oh yes (*shaking his head*) i just left the "sugar" at the end. I know that Billy Gates the third is walking around Europe evangelising "intellectual property principles" seeking (and blackmailing?) for support. I know that democracy seems to be dead in European Union (which my country (Croatia) so headstrongly wishes to enter) and that decisions are obviously being brought in a whim of an individual instead of parliament. European Union rejecting to restart software patents directive certainly is a shocking news as well as a low attack on our computing liberty which requires no further comments.
My expectations and hopes are that the liberated computing community will not stand still and will organise a great pressure on EU for a restart, hopefully greater then ever before. I urge everyone to follow ffii.org for announcements and calls for action and i also urge webmasters to take one of the banners and put it somewhere on their sites to show support for campaign against software patents and for true liberated computing.
And finally, this is it for this first edition of "Computing Our Liberty". Next month we will be keeping up to date to the recent events and follow them in our commentary as well as announce the newest and best of going ons in our liberated computing community here at libervis.com.
Thank you for reading.
Danijel Orsolic, Libervis founder
This article is available under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License