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[libreplanet-discuss] "Internet of Broken Things" on is a dis

From: J.B. Nicholson-Owens
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] "Internet of Broken Things" on is a distraction
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2015 21:00:07 -0500
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rysiek wrote:
Rather, "Internet of Broken Things":

But yes, the question of retaining software freedom in a world of computing
things is a valid one, and a hard one. There is no silver bullet, and the
market will not solve this one (not that it solved any other important
problems). I think our best bet is (*shudders*) regulation.

It seems to me that that discussion all too quickly gets distracted in a side issue of complexity. People have long lived with complexity greater than most people understand (depending on what you look at, humans have never really understood everything we work with). But this complexity discussion quickly distracts attention away from treating each other ethically. Perhaps that's the real value of the complexity argument if you look at this from an "open source" perspective (the open source movement was founded to distract attention away from software freedom in order to speak to businesses[1]). We don't need to understand everything so deeply to understand how to treat each other ethically. In software, software freedom is a prerequisite for ethical treatment (I imagine I hardly need to explain that here on libreplanet-discuss).

The problem of the NSA scandals and Snowden's revelations isn't that things are more broken than we realize. It's that people are being spied on constantly in ways they don't realize and spying has long been known to have powerfully ugly consequences. The spying itself is a direct contradiction of the brokenness argument -- spying works quite well and that's why so many spies are interested in it. This spying can sometimes require nonfree software (such as with DRM); when people have software freedom they can and do improve software so programs obey the users and no longer obey the spies.

I think the best approach is an old one -- educate everyone, including the young, to appreciate software freedom for its own sake and keep on doing this for generations. I can't think of anything significant that was obtained with a quick ("silver bullet") approach or by placating a set of rules engineered to reinforce the rule of the currently powerful (aka "the market").

[1] See and for more on this and on how the older free software movement differs from the younger open source movement.

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