free computing, free culture, free hardware
my experience with free software[lit]
years ago, linus torvalds claimed he didnt call what he did "free software" anymore, because he claimed, free software was "extremist" and "about hate".
that is ridiculous for two reasons-- what free software advocates "hated" was the evil things that companies like microsoft did to users. why shouldnt they "hate" the abuse that such companies subject users to?
the other reason it is ridiculous is that torvalds probably never did refer to what he did as "free software"-- he typically called it "open source", and while linux was announced in 1991 and "open source" was (allegedly) coined in 1998, this "announcement" from torvalds came years later.
ive given 10 years of solid effort to the free software movement-- money, time, advocacy, tutoring, free code and other free works.
nothing has come from that except a lot of backstabbing. the free software movement is dead, and it has been dead since 2015.
most people who tell you free software is dead are promoting open source as an "alternative". open source is a corporate scam, a fake version of the free software movement. im still not sure this applies to "open source" before 1998 (when the term was supposedly coined, but it existed prior to that) because that almost seems like (but isnt quite) a separate thing.
part of this is said out of fairness to bsd-- they make a mistake when they associate with "open source" but they also existed prior to the free software movement. with that said, free software should probably get the credit for bsd being free as in freedom.
open source is generally a bait-and-switch scam, which i do not support or advocate. i dont think i can be a lot clearer than warning you that it is a bait-and-switch effort. if you think thats advocating for open source, thats your own problem.
but for more than 5 years, free software has been taken over by similar (or the same) people, and it is something to avoid.
if you want people to pretend to agree with you and then turn around on you and sell you out, by all means, support free software.
if you want people to lie to you and exploit you for corporations and then kick you off projects you founded originally, based on lies, then by all means give your support to open source.
these are fake movements and dead movements. einstein used to say of his theories that 100 experiments couldnt prove him right, but just one experiment could prove him wrong. i am satisfied, based my decade-long search for software freedom, that i have exhausted every possible avenue towards getting the movement to do what it says on the tin-- free software is a broken promise.
it has failed, and i will not trust it again after so much abuse from people close to its founder (and also people who are clearly enemies of free software). asking people to support free software is asking them to stand up to endless abuse and gaslighting, both from people pretending to support it-- and people who attack it to sell you a corporate takeover.
but open source (as well as free software) still owes everything to the founder of free software, which is richard stallman-- who was also stabbed in the back. nothing i say about free software is really something against stallman. hes a good man who deserved a lot better. but he was always a pessimist, and rightly so.
i was stabbed in the back by my closest associates for being a pessimist, and they pretended to agree with me. when they were speaking with me, they exaggerated their agreement. when they turned on me, they exaggerated their disagreement. in the same breath they go on to repeat things ive been taken to task over, right after prentending our positions are so different. its a farce, and its betrayal. theres absolutely nothing ive said that wasnt based either on things theyve said, or things other people (who were farther on the inside) told me, then denied later.
the whole thing is a trap at this point.
do you what you want with that warning. i will not recommend a movement to you that does not do its job and that tries to destroy you for fighting for whats right. i will not recommend anything to you that i know is absolutely terrible. i wont give you an apple that i know first-hand is rotten in every bite, even if it used to be a perfectly good apple and even if we are both hungry for positive change.
people think im doing you a disservice by being negative-- they are doing you a disservice by lying to your face. but what you do with that information is up to you. the harder i worked to prove it, the more praise (and abuse) i got about it-- right up to the point when my closest associates stabbed me in the back.
the praise was from the very people who would turn on me on a dime, so praise is meaningless in this movement. at this point i worry more about compliments than the hypocritical criticism im already used to. thats what constant gaslighting and dealing with too many liars does to a person.
instead of inviting you to that mess, i will recommend you support free culture-- if you want to. i dont care for creative commons, but i do love lawrence lessig, who founded it. i do like some of the free licenses. for me it is about the free works, the licenses that makes them free-- and the advocacy (however little) that tries to keep creative and technical expression free.
as a movement, free culture really fell apart already. you will barely find free culture being defended by organisations, because organisations always get bought out by sponsors-- by the same people who created the terrible problems we are trying to solve.
but there are still people who support free culture. and though "cultural works" wasnt really a phrase coined with software as the point, software is also an important part of our culture. without control of our software, control of our computing (and as computers become a constant part of nearly everything we do) and ultimately how we live, is impossible-- with our lives so affected by computers, we do not have civil rights without the rights stallman advocated since the 1980s.
it seemed like an exaggeration at the time when he founded his organisation, to say that you needed control of your computing to be free-- but today it is clearly true for your books, your pictures, your privacy, your freedom of speech.
today, people are systematically replacing and co-opting real movements with corporate knockoffs-- also known as astroturfing. if you call them out, they turn on you and try to blame "little people" for things that only corporations who bribe the media can actually accomplish. it is deeply corporate-cult driven, hypocritical and narcissistic. above all, they are doing what propagandists do-- attributing every evil they commit onto the people they are doing evil to. this is what has destroyed the free software movement-- people let this happen, and got sucked into the propaganda and lies.
a free cultural work offers the same 4 freedoms as free software, but also concerns itself with the freedom to use, change and share other sorts of cultural works.
one of the biggest complaints about free culture is that it doesnt tend to advocate for software freedom. this is a legitimate gripe, really-- but one that can be (and sometimes is) addressed by people who still care about both causes. free culture does not demand that you ignore free computing-- rather, it sometimes does too little to defend or represent it. but today that is clearly true of both movements.
free speech (which free software compares itself to, and used to demonstrate care for) is the foundation of free software and free culture, and free speech and free culture reinforce each other. if our works are more free, our expression is more free. if we work for free speech, we are working for free culture.
so if you are looking for a cause to support, i recommend free culture-- or simply do your own advocacy your own way. dont assume that joining something bigger will help more. it has done absolutely nothing good for me.
but please do not do like open source and let people rewrite the history of free software. we will always owe a great deal to richard stallman, but to the people who betrayed him (and stabbed the rest of us in the back) we owe nothing at all.
figosdev, january 2021