Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd Jan 2012 19:12 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia - but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality.
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It takes a big man to admit that he has been wrong in the past about someone or something.

To reflect critically on oneĀ“s closely held beliefs and past actions is what truly separate average from great men.

This reflection should guide the choices we all make going forward (the products we recommend and support).

People who trust our judgment see what we use as a guide for what to use and, therefore, we should be mindful of the important consequences that our choice of technology has on the world around us.

For the same reasons that you mention in the article, I have long championed free and open source software.

I too believe that there would come a time when so much of our social, economic and cultural interactions would be tied to a computer, be it in the form of a phone, laptop, tablet or any other device.

Being the sovereign owner of that computer by knowing what it does or relying in a community of peers for that service is the only way to guarantee your freedom and by extension, and because of the network effect of the choices we make, that of your friends and family.

Celebrate and participate in free software. Choose it where you can. Free software has never been more powerful or easier to use and it keeps getting better year after year.

Happy New Year everyone.

Ps: Of course, there will be many who dismiss the principled position taken by this article for a number of reasons: it might conflict with their previous choices, they may have a vested political or economic interest in promoting other types of software or simply because they have created a personal identity around a product or brand, something fairly common in our consumer societies.

We should be both respectful but firm in our disagreement, because I believe in this case, we do hold the higher moral ground.

Feel free to reuse, forward and share my comments if you find the arguments useful.

Edited 2012-01-02 19:45 UTC

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