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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] ethical edtech edit-a-thon

From: bill-auger
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] ethical edtech edit-a-thon
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2019 00:22:17 -0400

On Fri, 15 Mar 2019 20:12:24 -0700 Aaron wrote:
> I'm with you here. I still today see lots of people using "Open
> Source" with NO care for the free/libre values. I often have
> conversations where

i think the real essence of these confusions is that people use the
terms "open-source" and "free-software" to refer to something that
neither of those terms convey very well; but most of the time they are
referring to exactly the same thing and indicating mostly the same
values of it, but from a different perspective

the biggest problem is that the terms "open-source" and "free-software"
are both woefully inadequate for actually conveying their respective
concepts, as they are generally intended - unlike "free" as in
"freedom", the literal words "open" and "source" do not even attempt to
describe the concept that is actually intended by most people who use it

strictly speaking, all that the words "open" and "source" imply, is
that you can read the code, because it is "not hidden" - much like any
repo on github that does not have a license - you can read the files,
but you can not copy them, or modify them, or redistribute them, or make
use them in any way - by that definition, no one would be cheer-leading
the merits of open-source, unless that definition were somehow
profitable to them as a marketing buzz-word - so, "open-source" is a
fairly vacuous term in of itself, and it's only true merits are
precisely the same as what the FSF calls more clearly: "software
freedom"; and only in the specific cases where it actually does provide
that (when the "open" source code is accompanied by a free license)

from my experience, the properties of "open-source" that most people
who actually use the term actually like about it, are actually the four
freedoms - noted above, software can be open-source without providing
any such freedoms; so it is an unfortunately misleading label to give
software that does provide user freedom - it is extremely unlikely
however, that any software that does not provide the four freedoms will
be referred to in a normal conversation by term "open-source" - most
people who use that term are almost always referring to software that
provides all four freedoms, sans the ethical overtones - thats not
because they do not appreciate "software freedom" - they just dont
emphasize ethics as the primary concern

i think the main reason why some prefer to use "open-source", is
because they take "open" in the sense of "open-minded"; so it makes
them appear more hip and modern, rather than merely altruistic or
generous, as "freedom" more aptly implies - the problem with that
interpretation, of course, is that it could only be meaningfully applied
to the people on the dev team, not to the source code; which is only
inert information after-all - the source code is "open" merely in the
sense of "disclosed", like the ingredients list on a can of soup; which
are not adequate for making your own soup - that is the point missing
in the term "open-source"; but again i see most people using it, not in
that sense at all, but as a synonym for everything "software freedom"
implies, sans the ethical imperative

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