Recenlty we read Eben Moglens speech “Free Software and the Death of Proprietary Culture” and now lets check out his keynote address, titled “Software and Community in the Early 21st Century” presented at Plone Conference 2006 on October 25, 2006 in Seattle, WA. You can read the transcript by Geof Glass on his blog “Eben Moglen on Free Software and Social Justice“.
Heres a look at some of what he said.
We have brought forward now the possibility of distributing everything that every public education system uses freely everywhere to everyone: true universal public education for the first time.
You and I, and the people who came before us, have been rolling a very large rock uphill a very long time. We wanted freedom of knowledge in a world that didn’t give it, which burned people for their scientific or religious beliefs. We wanted democracy, by which we meant originally the rule of the many by the many, and the subjection of today’s rulers to the force of law. And we wanted a world in which distinctions among persons were based not on the color of skin, or even the content of character, but just the choices that people make in their own lives. We wanted the poor to have enough, and the rich to cease to suffer from the diseases of too much. We wanted a world in which everybody had a roof, and everybody had enough to eat, and all the children went to school. And we were told, always, that it was impossible.
In other words, the free world now produces technology whose ability to reorient power in the larger traditional economy is very great. We have magnets; we can move the iron filings around. We can also change the infrastructure of social life. That OLPC has every textbook on earth. That OLPC is a free MIT education. That OLPC is a hand-powered thick-net router. When you close the lid as a kid and put it in the shelf at night, the main CPU shuts down – but the 802.11 gear stays running all night long on the last few pulls of the string. And it routes packets all night long and it keeps the mesh. The village is a mesh when the kids have green or purple or orange boxes. And all you need’s a downspout somewhere, and the village is on the Net. And when the village is on the Net, everybody in the village is a producer of something: services, knowledge, culture, art, YouTube TV.
But a little more political consciousness about it and a more attempt to get other people to understand not just “what” but “why” would help a lot. Because people are getting used to the “what”.
“Oh yeah, Firefox, I use it all the time.”
“Why, cuz Internet…”
“No no no no no. Not why do you use it, why does it exist?”
“Oh I dunno, some people did it.”
That’s the moment, all right, that’s the moment, that’s the one where that annoying Stallman voice should enter the mind, okay. Free As In Freedom, Free As In Freedom, tell people it’s free as in freedom. Tell them that if you don’t tell them anything else. Because they need to know.
We’ve spent a long time hunting for freedom. Many of us lost our lives trying to get it more than once. We have sacrificed a great deal for generations, and the people who have sacrificed most we honor most when we can remember them. And some of them have been entirely forgotten. Some of us are likely to be forgotten too. And the sacrifices we make aren’t all going to go with monuments and honors. But they’re all going to contribute to the end. The end is a good end if we do it right. We have been looking for freedom for a very long time. The difference is, this time, we win.
Visit the Internet Archive to download the video/audio. You have to check this one out.