Commit 0cf2e018 authored by Turner Hall's avatar Turner Hall
Browse files

New article about meaning of the site and css for blockquotes

parent 3938f8de
# The New 3
Being an advocate for Free, Libre, and Open Source software (FLOSS) over the years I never really reflected on the social implication of software freedom outside of issues like privacy and digital rights management which get the spotlight among free software "activists". With recent events and discussions in certain corners of the programming community however, I've been forced to do some reflecting. Software plays a **very real** role in the lives of everyday people and can in many instances mean life or death. Software, like any other tool, can be portrayed as a completely neutral tool [until it is used to harm others with its computations]( Today, so-called "Free Software" is being put to use for organized repression, institutionalized murder, and other uncountable social injustices. Maybe not as much as nonfree software but enough to deserve serious reflection. When today's concentration camps use GPL'd kernels and webservers on the machines which index their victims for abuse, is that really "Free Software"? Isn't Free Software supposed to [Free Society](
I want to reflect on the [Free Software Definition]( and the "four freedoms" which compose it for a moment.
> - 0 - The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose
> - 1 - The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.
> - 2 - The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others
> - 3 - The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others
> - (access to the source code is a precondition for 1 and 3)
Where is the loophole here? Is one of these four points flawed or is there an issue by ommision?
## I think the issue lies with freedom zero.
> The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose
Anyone, good or bad, must be able run the program to do either harm or good at their own discretion for software to meet the Free Software Definition. Good and bad are fairly subjective outside the most rigid social norms (unless you want to lose an argument with any decent philospher). Harm, however, has a long history of definitions in law, ethics, sociology, and philosophy to draw upon so I think the best solution may lie there.
[Andrew Feenberg]( in his philosophy of technology describes technologies such as gears, wheels, and screws as being politically neutral, whereas machines, with more complex inherently political designs, are comprised of many of these "politically neutral" parts put together. In other words, the smallest parts may be neutral, but when incorporated into a larger overall creation then the design can begin to be politicized. Gears, wheels, and screws do not have direct and political applications, they can only lead to something greater that necessarily does have politics if it is going to function with any kind of __goal__ in mind.
Small software libraries and programs which when put together form larger systems are analgous to the gears, wheels, and screws in the above model. On it's own a compression or networking library or program is not going to have politicized design. Larger projects, do, for better or worse have political designs with well-defined goals in mind. With freedom zero, any goal is allowed ("for any purpose") and this leaves room for designs which are created for the purpose of harm.
Freedom zero was initially added to the free software definition in response to proprietary software and "shareware" or "freeware" in particular which allowed free access to run their closed-source programs with legal restrictions on usage which trapped innocent, individual users at the time. However, now that FLOSS is more prevalent then shouldn't we take appropriate responsibility for our creations that that developers of proprietary software have often proven they are unable to use for the purpose of social freedoms? We are in a position to deny oppressors *our* tools which they use to strip the freedoms, livelihoods, and existences away from other human beings. We need to take responsibility. Free Software licenses need to be able to contain language restricting the use of such software for bodily harm at the very least (_I_ would definitely want more expansive protections). Any code which has politicized design due to it's sophistication with real world consequences should have protections from abuse in it's applications (whether lower-level code needs the same protections is debatable).
I want to include at least one example of a software license which does not meet the Free Software Foundation's Free Software Definition which takes social responsibility for its applications. Hopefully in the future, this list will grow. I would also appreciate emails with suggestions for more.
- [Beloved Community License (BCLv1)](
To conclude, if you *really* want to Free Society, then use the _new_ 3 when defining what makes a free license (if you would excuse the very old, but GNU pun).
- 1 - The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- 2 - The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others
- 3 - The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others
Freedom zero has to go.
......@@ -11,5 +11,6 @@ I would really appreciate it if **images of my face remain on this website**, me
- [New Website!](/articles/new_website.html)
- [Iceland Pictures](/articles/iceland_pictures.html)
- [Catan Grids](/articles/catan.html)
- [The meaning of GNU 3](/articles/3.html)
(You can browse and search all the posts via the site map)
......@@ -17,6 +17,7 @@ I'm a Computer Science major at Trinity University with a passion for Free Softw
### Other things on my site:
- [The meaning of GNU 3 - Free Software Which Can Actually Free Society](/articles/3.html)
- [Blog](/articles/)
- [Pages](/docs/)
......@@ -28,6 +28,14 @@ a:hover {
cursor: pointer;
blockquote {
border-left: 4px solid #f0a000;
padding: 0 1em;
margin: .5em;
color: white;
display: inline-block;
details {
color: orange;
......@@ -74,7 +82,7 @@ footer {
margin: auto;
padding: .2em;
width: 50%;
border-top: 1px solid #f0a000 ;
border-top: 1px solid #f0a000;
footer img {
Markdown is supported
0% or .
You are about to add 0 people to the discussion. Proceed with caution.
Finish editing this message first!
Please register or to comment