[Vision2020] Open source and related concepts

Dave tiedye at turbonet.com
Tue Apr 8 10:04:11 PDT 2008

Great post Paul!   I like how you explain true anarchy, even among 
self-proclaimed anarchists this concept is sometimes lost. 

Regarding your related topic, applying open source to politics, my 
optimist says "COOL!" My pessimist says that the powers that be will 
never let this have any real power.

Regarding open source software I am really frustrated.  I hang out with 
a bunch of activists, most of whom would claim to be anarchists.  We 
went to Seattle to shutdown the WTO.  We automatically boycott any 
corporation or organization with a bad human rights record.  We 
boycotted the Kirk long before there was any formal list because we 
don't believe that people should own people and that anyone who supports 
someone who's weird interpretation of a bad history book says that 
slavery is part of "God's Law" and intends to take over this town and 
set up "Gods Law", should not be supported.

Yet they all use Windows.  I have not been able to get one activist in 
this town to try out the open source, and much better, alternatives.   
They prefer to use a computer full of corporate and other spys, that 
can't do much unless you buy more software for it.  I volunteer at a 
free speech radio station, yet I can't convince anyone else that open 
source is consistent with our mission statement and that Microsuck is not.

I have installed Ubuntu on several very poor peoples' chunky and bug 
ridden old Windows machines and they are very happy to have working 
computers.  One of them, a HS dropout with almost no computer 
experience, installed it all herself with just a couple of phone calls 
for help.

I'm what you would call a power user on computers, without open source 
software it would cost me about $5000 to make a Windows machine 
functional to my needs (not counting games).  I used to have my machine 
full of illegal cracked software and it made me vary paranoid.  I now 
have a completely legal almost fully open source machine that can do 
anything I want.  

You only scratched the surface with your software list, but I expect 
that was intentional as you mentioned most packages that a general user 
would use.  But I feel I should also mention Gnucash which is better 
then Quickbooks and The Gimp which is is better then Photoshop.  Oh 
yeah, I also just tried out the scanning tool XSane, it's much better 
than any TWAIN tool I've ever used (except that support for many old 
scanners isn't (yet) written).


P.S. Does my sig file make sense now?

Paul Rumelhart wrote:
> One of the great things that has come about because of the internet is
> the concept of "open source".   This is great for programming, because
> you can collaborate with others to produce applications that are free in
> every sense of the word.  Firefox, linux, the apache web server that
> powers many websites, free replacements for standard software like gaim
> for internet messaging (now "pidgin"), open office for spreadsheets and
> word processing, and many, many other programs in various stages of
> development are testaments to the power of the "open source" movement.
> This concept is amazingly refreshing to me, because it brings people
> together to create things for others just because they can.
> This concept isn't just for geeks anymore.  We now have projects like
> wikipedia and various other wiki-like concepts (such as wikibooks,
> wiktionary, and others).  People can take what knowledge they have
> accumulated and use it to help everybody.  You have wikileaks, which
> aims to be a place where whistle blowers can expose wrongdoing
> anonymously, and you have the creative commons, where people place their
> works of art where they can be used to create other pieces of art.
> The reason I love these concepts is because they are good examples of
> what I consider "true" anarchy.  The term "anarchy" has a bad rep,
> because it usually denotes chaos and the destruction of the
> establishment.  However, what it is supposed to mean is rule by the 
> people without authoritarian oversight and without disorder.  These 
> kinds of applications are a great example of how anarchy can actually 
> work.  There isn't one guy at the top of most open source projects that 
> can act like a dictator.  Even Linus Torvalds, the person who started 
> the linux operating system, isn't in that position.  He can accept 
> patches into his source tree, but anyone can fork the code at any time 
> if they don't like what he does with his kernel, thanks to the GPL license.
> In some cases, there are literally thousands of people working on these
> projects, to one degree or another.  Yet there is no authoritarian power
> structure that controls things.  People have to learn to do their part
> as a member of the project, wherever they best think they can help.  The
> projects sort of organically grow, and shape themselves into what people
> want.
> So why do I bring this up here?
> Because I have just learned of another similar initiative to take this
> idea of "open source" and extend it into an area where it doesn't at
> first seem as if it would fit.  That area is government.  There is a
> site called metagovernment (http://www.metagovernment.org) which is
> starting to ramp up that aims to garner community involvement in every
> aspect of governing ourselves.  I don't know a lot about it yet, but I'm
> excited about the idea.  From what I gather, you basically band together
> into small communities based on geographical area (presumably Moscow
> would be one such area), and you work as a group to write the laws as
> you want them to be.  There is a mechanism where the best ideas float to
> the top, and there are forums where every aspect of the law is hammered
> out.  The idea is that these laws, and the discussions that are involved
> in them, can be held up as a template for our legislatures to use to
> create local laws.  There is no real power there, all there is is an
> example that in all likelihood will be a much "better" law than that
> which our politicians would come up with, since it was developed by
> those who would be most affected by and who are most knowledgeable of
> the topics.
> It's also a way for those of us who wish to be more involved to actually
> help to make a difference.
> When this project gets off the ground, I'm going to follow it and see if
> it works.  My gut instinct tells me that it will.  It's the same reason
> that Firefox the browser is better than Internet Explorer (at least in
> my opinion) - the community knows what they want and that drives the
> design.  A monolithic company, just like a monolithic government, is
> limited - whereas a group of intelligent individuals with like interests
> and whole ranges of expertise to draw on can be nigh unstoppable.  It's
> the difference between having to accept what is shoved down your throat,
> and choosing to use what others have built together for you to use as
> you see fit.
> If this takes off, I'll be hoping to get some of the people on this list
> involved in the project.  It is basically what Vision2020 purports to
> want to be - a place where our vision of the future of our town can be
> expressed in a positive way.
> Any thoughts?
> Paul
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Windows, OSX, or Linux is the same choice as:
McDonalds, Burger King, or a (real) Co-Op.

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