Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tale of a button

Ok, so this is a frivolous post (you weren't expecting a very serious one after this prolonged hiatus from blogging, were you?) I wear a "Free Software - It's all about freedom" button on my winter jacket (I picked it up at a swag dispensing sessions after a RMS talk a year or so ago). Here is a quick laundry list of the reactions I've gotten to this button (very few, and hence I can list them all):

#1. Student of mine sees me in the cafeteria, walks up, and says, "Free software? Where? I want some!". Interesting reaction; clearly, a free lunch is still attractive, but she seemed to be remarkably undiscriminating in her desire for software. Any software, so long as it was free, would do. I tried explaining the button, but I'm not sure I got anywhere.

#2. I visit a bar in Brooklyn for a friend's birthday party. A young man also invited to the party sees the button, and putting on a "save-the-whales" voice, speaks: "Set the software free, set the software free". I grin back, and he continues, "Information just wants to be free, doesn't it"? I'm getting tagged as a crunchy hippie here, but its allright, as more people crowd into the bar and disrupt our 'conversation'.

#3. Its my friend's daughter's 10th birthday party. His brother-in-law spots my button (I think he works downtown in Manhattan) and guffaws loudly. "You're such a dork, dude. Why don't you wear a peace button or something?". My intended response is cut off as my SO asks me if I want a drink. I shuffle off in pursuit of greater pleasures.

#4 And to bring things full circle. I run into the student mentioned in item #1 above. It's been a few months, memories have faded. For she says again, "Free software! Where? I want some!". And I try to return to my as-usual-futile explanation.


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