Sunday, July 29, 2007

FOSS at NA-CAP 2007

Last week, Scott and I traveled to Chicago for the North American Computers and Philosophy Conference to deliver a talk titled "The Freedom Zero Problem: Free Software and the Ethical Use of Software". You can check out the slides for the talk if you like (some of the discussion is drawn from Chapter 2 of Decoding Liberation, whose release date has now apparently been pushed to August 2nd). The conference went well, but I would be lying if I did not say that I was not stunned by the number of profound misunderstandings of the concept of free software that were on display. Those who wonder why Richard Stallman gets cranky about this stuff would do well to note the persistence of many of these: the economics (plus associated politics) of FOSS and 'coercion' in the GPL being just two of the most egregious ones (I plan to write a bit more about 'coercion' in the GPL a bit later). There was also some weird hostility, most of which I found unpleasant and unsettling. But to be fair, there was also a great deal of interesting analysis of FOSS and its implications (and a marvelous and hope-inspiring informational talk on Open Access by Peter Suber). All in all, a great weekend, and we can't wait to get Decoding Liberation out there to spark off more discussion. Kudos to the folks at Loyola (Tom Wren, Matt Butcher, George Thiruvathukal, Konstantin Laufer) for putting on a good show.


Anonymous Dougie said...

The hostility you experienced in Chicago was perhaps related to the fact that it's home to an economic school whose laissez-faire thought has clearly been utterly bankrupted by the fact of global warming... They see you, perhaps in rather inchoate terms, as the purveyor of another, more positive reality, which they have yet to contribute to.


2:40 PM  

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