[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [emacs-humanities] Has Emacs made you appreciate software freedom?

From: M . ‘quintus’ Gülker
Subject: Re: [emacs-humanities] Has Emacs made you appreciate software freedom?
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2021 08:30:09 +0200

Am 02. Juni 2021 um 19:04 Uhr -0700 schrieb Alan Davis:
> Emacs made me aware that Free Software even exists, and it revolutionized
> how I approach the use of a computer, a PC.

In my case, I was into the Free Software idea before I adopted Emacs,
so until now I did not really feel qualified to participate in this
thread. Still, Emacs does make me value Free Software every day again,
probably more than any other piece of software (except for Linux
itself, maybe, which is my primary OS), because I literally use it
every day.

Yesterday I was around in the #emacs IRC channel and was gently
remembered that to get rid of the <> brackets around nicks in ERC,
there are ways even though these angle brackets are hardcoded into
ERC's source code. Witness the power of the right to modify the
software (even though I admit this is a minor case).

> The only thing I must regret is that I have played so minor a role in
> creation of this system, and that I have failed so miserably in expressing
> the joy that Free Software brings to me, as I have watched, as proprietary
> commercial for-profit computing systems have metastasized across the
> globe.  Friend by friend, and colleague by colleague, I have seen this
> vision abandoned in favor of the easy way.

This is a mailing list for human sciences, so maybe it is worth to
view the topic from the social angle rather than the technical one.
Why is this? I am no socioligst, but I do not believe that “ease of
use” covers the entire story. For example, Signal is not more
difficult to use than WhatsApp, but until recently it was not very
popular. The “ease of use” position seems to stem from the assumption
that people confronted with a situation make a conscious choice as to
what software they use and then opt into what is seemingly more
“simple”. When I got into programming more seriously, I conciously
chose my editor among all the different available choices (I chose
Emacs and never looked back), but people who use e.g. MS Word in my
observation rarely have exercised a conscious choice to use it. They
simply use it because they do not know about alternatives. That, in
turn, sounds to me mostly like the result of marketing rather than
“ease of use”. In fact, several non-technical people complain that
certain things can be difficult to do with Word (bibliographies, for
example). There is a third group, though, whose size I fail to
estimate properly: people who do know about alternatives but use Word
because their environment requires it, i.e. because they do not have a
choice. Quite a number of members on this list probably fall into this
category, because publishers in human sciences usually do not accept
any other format than DOC(X). For me, this latter aspect invokes the
question if this is a topic to achieve from the field of Law,
specifically given that Microsoft has started to use its dominant
position to built anti-features into Word and Office in general which
are doubtful under (European) data protection law.

So, I think we are essentially looking at a social problem rather than
a technical one. Maybe things would improve if the FSF started a more
conventional marketing campaign for Emacs? I was certainly surprised
when I saw billboard advertisements for DuckDuckGo and for Mozilla
Firefox a while ago. Why should it not be possible to have some for

I am interested in what others here think about the issue of people
not choosing Free Software, specifically why they choose proprietary
tools over Emacs. Why is it? How can we improve on it, other than
making the software itself better, of course?


Dipl.-Jur. M. Gülker | https://mg.guelker.eu |    For security:
Passau, Germany      | kontakt@guelker.eu    | () Avoid HTML e-mail
European Union       | PGP: see homepage     | /\ http://asciiribbon.org

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]