> I gathered that RMS feels that proprietary software (specifically, the idea
> that the software is not readily available to him to modify and distribute)
> is materially harmful. That means his philosophy is that one side definitely
> DOES suck
It depends on what you mean by "materially harmful". If you look at it
from the GNU philosophy, this doesn't mean money - it means trust and
community resources. If everyone shares, then everyone wins. But if
everybody hoards what they have and what they've made, or even takes
what other people have made available, makes some changes and then
says "It's mine, nobody else can have it" (viz. the X thing) then that
is generally bad for freedom of information, freedom of thought and
for the sharing community model that makes free software, along with
much of the world, work.
It's a much more academic point of view. This is science, says GNU, and
science is something that isn't worth anything unless the way you did
it is published for other people to hammer on, replicate, and use as
the basis for further work. That way you don't have everybody doing the
same job and getting it not quite right thirty times because nobody
shares their experience with everybody else. In the research world,
secrecy is a bad thing - you publish and share so other people can
benefit from your work, and ultimately the whole community benefits as
a result. Closed, proprietary technologies suck because they don't get
this wide range of peer review, and peer review, on the whole, is
what makes things suck less.
However, this is just one of any number of viewpoints. Different people
have different views and motivations - for some people it's money,
for some it's job satisfaction, for others it's popularity, for others
it's god knows what. As far as RMS (and by extension the FSF) are concerned,
it's purity of code, both from a technical and an ideological viewpoint.
RMS' opinions are generally more radical than those of most people, but
it certainly seems that his talk last night has had the effect of
making people think. For some people, the outcome was "yes! so this is
what we're working towards!". For other people, the outcome was "Pah.
Pinko leftie claptrap." For others still, it was "It's a nice ideal, but
unlikely to happen in reality". And all three points of view have their
place in a thinking world. Wouldn't the world be boring if everybody
started agreeing with everybody else about everything?
yrs in woolly liberalism
Computer Science System Administrator, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
mike.knell at cs.tcd.ie -=- http://www.cs.tcd.ie/Mike.Knell/
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