Tag: digital era

What is Freedom?

When I first saw the letter asking for Richard Stallman and the FSF Board of Directors resignations with merely five signatures, I knew I had to sign. Not because I knew it would be the popular thing to do. But because it was what was true in my heart. Only in a sense of deep empathy could I understand the reasons why it had finally come to this. I signed the letter because as much as I have personally benefited indirectly by the legacy of Mr. Stallman in my life, I feel his continued presence is harmful and more damaging at the forefront of the movement.

I don’t say that casually either. I have involuntarily found Open Source as my calling. Or my people. I contribute to Open Source because I love to collaborate and work together with other people. This challenges me. It humbles me in a way that I know I can always learn something new from someone else. For this, Open Source and Free Software have enriched my life. They have also given me, again involuntarily, an odd but productive way of coping with my own mental health issues, anxiety, and depression.

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Three predictions for Free Software in the 2020s

From January to May 2020, I completed an independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology on Business and Legal Aspects of Free/Open Source Software. This was the final credit for my completion of the Free and Open Source Software and Free Culture minor.

That semester, I traveled to different international FOSS conferences (before COVID-19), analyzed contemporary changes and trends in Free Software, and reflected on where I think we are going. I am sharing an edited version of my final report here, as a look into my “crystal ball” for what is coming to Free Software in the 2020s.

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Your Software Freedom is not my Software Freedom: A reflection on Chadwick Boseman

Trigger warning: Grief, police violence, death.

This blog post was first written on August 28th, 2020.

Today is a sad day. Chadwick Boseman is dead. At 43 years old, he lost a terminal battle with stage IV colon cancer. As his great light dims, I am left to wonder what loss will happen next in 2020.

But like the ashes of a phoenix, we will rise. His death reminds me of the fierce urgency of now, as said by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That in the moment of darkness that follows death, a new bright light will emerge. It is just so human for us to cling to the embers of hope, in the fear that we will one day be delivered from suffering.

Boseman was a social leader and source of inspiration for many. His life and many roles championed racial equity on the Hollywood screens. Boseman was passionate about what he did. He led a committed life.

Boseman’s death caused me to reflect on the definition of Freedom in the movement I am embedded within: the Free Software movement. Yet in this community I value, there are seeds of discontent. The fierce urgency of now has revealed that systemic social injustices continue to exist in our society, as they have for centuries. The generational question we must answer as witnesses to this moment is: will we continue to tolerate the systemic faults within our society? Or must we imagine a more fair society? A more just society? I know we can because we have to.

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How did Free Software build a social movement?

The Free Software movement is rooted to origins in the 1980s. As part of a talk I gave with my colleague and friend Mike Nolan at FOSDEM 2020, we analyzed how the Free Software movement emerged as a response to a changing digital world in three different phases. This blog post is an exploration and framing of that history to understand how the social movement we call “Free Software” was constructed.

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CopyleftConf 2020: quick rewind

CopyleftConf 2020 took place on Monday, 3 February, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium:

This will be the second annual International Copyleft Conference. Participants from throughout the copyleft world — developers, strategists, enforcement organizations, scholars and critics — will be welcomed for an in-depth, high bandwidth, and expert-level discussion about the day-to-day details of using copyleft licensing, obstacles facing copyleft and the future of copyleft as a strategy to advance and defend software freedom for users and developers around the world.

This event will provide a friendly and safe place for discussion of all aspects of copyleft, including as a key strategy for defending software freedom!

Official conference website

This was my first time attending CopyleftConf. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent the sustainability efforts at the RIT FOSS@MAGIC initiative. However, I also represented myself as an individual in the Free Software movement. For CopyleftConf 2020, I arrived hoping to learn more about where we, as the Free Software community, are going. I also hoped to gain a deeper ethical perspective about our digital society.

Me excitingly holding my CopyleftConf 2020 schedule after having bought my ticket earlier that same morning.

Event reports take many forms. Since CopyleftConf 2020 is structured in a unique format, my event report is structured as follows:

  • At a glance: structure and key takeaways: High-level overview of what CopyleftConf 2020 was like. What the biggest ideas on my mind were at the end of the day.
  • Copyleft adopt curves: what drove copyright adoption then (or now?): Musings on the history of copyleft and movement building.
  • Free Software, but for kids: Children and teenagers are already building open source communities. How do we include the next generation?
  • Where are we going?: Software ethics and copyleft licensing.
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Why FOSS is still not on activist agendas

On December 13th, 2006, author Bruce Byfield reflected on why he thought Free and Open Source Software (F.O.S.S.) was not on activist agendas. My interpretation of his views are that a knowledge barrier about technology makes FOSS less accessible, the insular nature of activism makes collaboration difficult, and FOSS activists reaching out to other activists with shared values should be encouraged. On December 13th, 2019, is FOSS on activist agendas? The answer is not black or white, but a gray somewhere in the middle. This is my response to Byfield’s article, thirteen years later, on what he got right but also what he left out.

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Six months later: 3 things I learned from deleting Facebook

Six months ago, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Beyond data privacy concerns, social media became a virtual band-aid applied to moments of weakness and sadness for me. I became more aware of the effects of social media on my mood and general outlook on the world, as I explained in my decision to delete my accounts. Six months now passed since I deleted my accounts. Along the way, I learned a few lessons on creating a healthy diet of media and pop culture consumption in a world of constant connectivity and endless memes.

This article explains changes I made to how I use social media and my smart phone since deleting my accounts. Hopefully you find these tips useful too.

The picture is dramatic, but when you spend more time thinking about how you use your phone, you realize how the world uses our phones and the Internet. Image credit: SparkXL.
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How a smart phone makes time irrelevant

It’s 2pm in the afternoon and the weather is becoming cold after so long. On this brisk November day, an old professor steps out in the corner lobby of the college. The golden rays of the sun cast a warm, radiant glow, leaving a bright, inviting air. This small moment of time is meaningless in an infinite universe of possible moments.

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