don't make me tap the sign
@JordiGH honestly there's only been one commenter that I would put under the "fossbro" category, at least from accounts that are visible on my instance. so either our blocklist is that good or i've just been very lucky lol
@balrogboogie foss as pharmakon of surveillance capitalism, it is also transforming from its earlier ideological content into one of the means to resist the monster it helped unleashed,,,
@balrogboogie I don't know... Wouldn't that be like saying language is bad because capitalists use it for marketing or medicine is bad because capitalists use it to exhort people and pressure governments, or access to water is bad because capitalists use it to power factories and return it polluted? I'd argue the problem is never free and open access- the problem is capitalists.
@pants language: no, because language isn't a product of labor
medicine: no, but the privatization of medicine is
water: no, again because it is not the product of labor
of course capitalists are bad, but these days FOSS is almost entirely controlled by capitalists. there is no FOSS community that isn't driven in part or in total by the wants and needs of corporations, and pretending otherwise does nothing but strengthen that control
@balrogboogie Perhaps we have different working definitions of FOSS. I mean simply access to source code/ shared knowledge. And that software should be free in the same way that the knowledge to make medicine _should_ be free. Are you using it in a more niche sense?
@pants @balrogboogie "free" is a trap word to obscure the flows of power. if you say "water should be free for Nestlé to come and fence it", you are empowering Nestlé to the detriment of people (BSD license). If you say "the rivers in our city should be freely accessible by fascist warships", you are giving resources to fascists (GPL Freedom 0).
The refusal of the free software movement to take a stance against capitalists has empowered capitalists, because Amazon can get a lot more power out of all the "freely" available code than individual workers can, in the same way that Nestlé can get a lot more power out of a spring than you can.
Moreover the very unspoken premise that this is a problem solvable by licenses in a legalist framework pressuposes that laws and courts are good and work for the people, preventing reforms of the real cause of software injustice: private ownership of the means of production. The freedom to see the source code means nothing if the server farms, networks, computer factories etc. are all controlled by a handful of capitalists.
@pants @balrogboogie The statement that "proprietary ownership of software gives the owner unjust power" is perfectly correct, of course. Because software is a means. But this is true of all means. Private ownership of Amazon warehouses gives the owner unjust power. Private ownership of land gives the owner unjust power. Of apartment buildings. Of natural resources by governments.
The problem with the free software movement wasn't that it defends free access to knowledge.
The problem with the free software movement is that it made sure to sabotage itself, by putting its head in the sand about systems of power and pretending this is a matter of elaborate law codes like a programming puzzle.
This is how there was so much incredible work poured into Linux and BSD etc. only for the Web to end up the way it is today, for e-commerce, mobile etc. to end up the way it is today.
@ramona thanks for jumping in, you said that much better than I could have. do you mind if I follow you?
@ramona @pants @balrogboogie Yes! I will defend Free Soft till I die but let's not pretend that by making free software we are solving the structural issues that made free soft necessary in the first place!
The capitalist will only be defeated when there is no more capitalism, to think that licenses will solve software is to be detached from reality.
@ramona @pants @balrogboogie Hmm it feels like something is missing from this critique. The 1-sentence version would be "whiteness is responsible" but there's something worth elaborating on about how whatever presumed ideological differences exist in terms of "free" vs proprietary software are covering for an ideological *unity* in terms of empire. Kind of leaving this as a note to come back later when we've figured out how to express this in more depth
@ramona @pants @balrogboogie Agreed. In hindsight I think it was really hard to not jump on the bandwagon. IIRC it was somewhere between 2010-2015 (I'm terrible with dates), but it was like win after win for FOSS. Some probably saw it for what it is at its start, some, I included, had to get bit by the snake many times to learn it was harmful, and some still live in that utopia. But overal we failed at every goal we set for us and there are many goals that we failed at even setting. And now even the delusionals like me also learn there was never such thing as "we" to begin with, and our community is rotten from the inside in many places. Do we have nothing to show for it? No. There are a lot of nice things out there. When I see creators (say they) use InkScape, MuseScore, Audacity, R, Python, OBS, etc., I'm happy. But in the grand scheme of things we've indeed failed big time as a human community, whatever "we" were/are.
@cadadr @pants @balrogboogie I mean I still use free software for everything I can, I'm glad all this stuff exist and it beats the alternative. it's just that I started putting out my own stuff in the Anti-Capitalist License (which means I'm now writing "non-free" software per FSF), promoting a friend's Non-Violent License, discussing the limitations of license-based approaches in the first place, discussing with friends what an ethics-based equivalent to Debian would be, something which would foreground the needs of marginalised and disabled folx... and perhaps most importantly, doing struggle that is not software x3
still when I sit on the PC I boot up Debian, have for 20 years now and I'm grateful for all the labour put into it.
@ramona @pants @balrogboogie I totally agree and would hate to be misunderstood as otherwise, as ungrateful and dismissive in particular. But the way I experience this whole thing, as a hacker in User Lands, is that we've created a great utopia for ourselves, but outside that, we've... I don't want to say hurt people (maybe I should), but haven't really made a significant positive difference in a lot of people's lives. They mostly interact with what we enabled, rather than what we created. To what extent that's our fault, IDK, but, I can't but feel we could redo the whole 2010s and end up in a way better world.
Those licences are interesting, and while I am not in political conflict with them, I fear they may fail at court. I happily trusted GPL and FSF until recently, but I don't want to use their licences either. I am very conficted and confused in the whole licencing topic, given also I'm planning for some larger projects in the future...
anyways, sorry for the long reply, I grew really disillusioned with FOSS lately and picked up a habit of rambling on unsolicitedly whenever the topic comes up...
I honestly don't think any truly non-capitalist effort will survive the courts under capitalism,ofc, it's built to prevent that. releasing software under ethical licenses is more of a manifesto or protest about the limitations of Freedom 0 and a provocation for community-building, also to spite the libs
Wrt the second bit, that makes sense actually. I should read these licences again, and not skim. A little q if you happen to know the answer: in terms of Debian, would software under these terms go into non-free, or get completely excluded? Or maybe is it still unclear what happens, as most these licences seem to be recent?
@ramona @pants @balrogboogie interestingly, here's some good reading from the "traditional" sphere on the topic. their framing is a warning to capitalists that open source digital infrastructure is supported by a relatively small population of volunteers. which is another way of saying capitalists are sucking a VAST amount of power out of a group that COULD be doing things differently. I remain deeply concerned about the lack of awareness of active political power structures in most of FOSS.
@ramona @pants @balrogboogie i bring this neolib group up because i want to make the point that the capitalist class is WELL aware of what it's doing here. and they're planning how to be more exploitative by insulating themselves from the "risk" that we actually demand a different way of doing things.
@mdhughes I think you missed the point, you shoud reread the post. she never said that BSD prevented anyone from using code, but that using a BSD-like license allows corporations to take a resource that is freely avaiable and package it into something proprietary.
and the "religious propaganda" line is just rude, if you have valid argument that actually addresses what she said then make it, but ad hominem attacks are unhelpful
@balrogboogie @ramona @pants Taking water and polluting it requires control of what goes downstream. BSD (or MIT, X11, Apache, or any other open source license) doesn't do that, so it's a biased, false analogy. Someone's use of BSD code for good or evil has ZERO affect on anyone else's use of the code.
And Stallmanism, so-called GPL or FSF, is a cult religion at this point, denial of reality and devotion to a creepy leader are the defining traits.
@mdhughes @balrogboogie @ramona @pants you are only thinking about code’s impact on code, not the impact of what is done with the code on the outside world, or which malicious people might be using it. “Who gains power from this code and what do we do about the answer to that?” is a worthy question to ask.
Stupid ideologies interfere in that. Stallmanites can only use software blessed by their prophet, now extreme anti-useful licenses restrict those users even more.
Or you can choose generosity, and make software you want to share available to everyone.
@bulkington @balrogboogie @ramona @pants Correct, Google is able to do evil despite a restrictive license. If it didn't exist, or the license said "no corps!", they'd just have their drones rewrite it. That's all Facebook does.
But those restrictive licenses do limit people who aren't giant ad companies. For no reason.
@mdhughes @bulkington @ramona @pants you keep on bringing this back to license choice, which is...one of the least useful debates one could have rn? there isn't a license that exists that will stop capitalists from exploiting the free labor of FOSS communities, which was the whole point of this thread that you seem to have derailed in favor of trying to have a license flamewar
@mdhughes @balrogboogie @bulkington @ramona @pants
she actually said that the bsd license allows nestlé to take the water and sell it for a profit, rather than pollute that water? "to fence" is to sell stolen goods, making it an apt word to describe what nestlé do
the analogous thing for software is 100% permitted by all four bsd licenses, as well as by gpl and most all copyleft licenses. you're 100% allowed to package up some free software into a proprietary form which you then sell. depending on the specific license, your derived work might need to follow certain rules to comply, but none of those rules are "this can't be sold for a profit"
@balrogboogie forgive my naivite – but why don't licenses like AGPL, or the Peer Production License, or CC-BY-NC/SA limit the power of giant corporation to exploit our gift labour? My experience of AGPL CiviCRM is that it's not been forked in any significant context because of its license. And while there are commercial users - relatively small agencies – its biggest drivers and users and community voices are non-profits.
@nicol because the idea that companies won't violate the terms of a license if it allows them to use or copy some software they want is naive at best
@balrogboogie @nicol what little i've seen from the corporate lawyer point of view is that most people (ok, most corporate lawyers who've put any thought into this) are honestly concerned when there's code with copyleft material in it
of course if the company is stuck w/other proprietary or otherwise incompatible stuff, or want to release their stuff nonfree, the advice might be to just clean-room the thing
sure there's "we'll hire litigation counsel when/if" but not all, & every impact counts
@balrogboogie so the problem isn't the licenses, it's that companies will behave illegally? so the only way to stop them is to hide our code from them (and each other in the process?)
@nicol i'm not here to say what you should do with your code.
i'm not going to be writing any more free code for companies i despise, but that's my own choice
@nicol and where did I say we shouldn't share code? I still share code with close friends and collaborators, I just don't publish it for every rando startup to use
@balrogboogie just if all licenses are equally bad because bad companies will ignore them; I assumed that your proposal is we should stop sharing code full-stop.
May I suggest a clarification around your initial point; which is that there's a big difference between creating, say, a FOS version of a commercial colossus, like Office; and inventing something new and world-changing, and releasing that under FOS for some commercial giant to use (with or without license compliance) and get rich off?
Longish post, thinking about the licenses and FOSS political failures.
@nicol @balrogboogie (cc @ramona as you made very cogent points to this earlier, forgive me if that's unwelcome)
I think the license thing deserves some nuance.. as I understand the thesis here, the point is that while many or most biggish companies are keen to remain license-compliant (Google won't use AGPL for example), but that under capitalism if FOSS licensing actually became a significant problem then the companies would have the law changed to suit themselves anyway (whether by lobbying or just buying court decisions to suit themselves).
That all being understood, licenses are our way of interacting with a system that some of us know is out of our total control. By themselves they set some boundaries within that system, so license choice is still important and good. And choosing licenses that facilitate the commons-building we love, while inhibiting capitalism as much as practicable within that framework, is good also.
But maybe the real place to focus is on the code itself. If your code is ideal for fascists or capitalists, licensing won't help much. At best it will make them encapsulate or rewrite or just quietly break the law. Or spin up nonprofits to launder services so it's "noncommercial" use, or something. So instead, we need to think more about how to design code that functions towards the commons, and functions poorly towards corporations.
I think an idea I've seen here is, for starters, getting the idea of "scale" out of the picture when designing things that don't need it. Unless you're designing a cybernetic system for managing a planned community economy, ditch scale and just build things that work well for community-scale or smaller.
What else? Maybe committing to leaving certain classes of unplanned behaviour ("bugs") alone if they don't reduce the security or efficacy of the software for your planned use-case. Some corp-dude wants better handling of case X to help integrate with their product? Just refuse. Even committing not to fix or maintain things means you're signalling that your software is _not production ready_.
Worried about Forks that take your upstream labour and corporatise it? Maybe there are lessons from the anti-commons work deployed by Oracle on Java wrt release cycles, or by the LLVM people changing their "plumbing" APIs regularly to break anyone trying to make proprietary forks (so I hear, can't cite).
TLDR: keep choosing licenses that work for the commons-building foss, I personally like AGPL or EUPL, but think about how to address the bigger issues that licensing can't ever address alone.
Longish post, thinking about the licenses and FOSS political failures.
I guess it’s also helpful to recognise that while the tragedy of the commons isn’t new the scarcity issue inherent in it wasn’t magically solved with digital, it just shifted that scarcity to labour. Hence DISCO focus on caretaking.
Longish post, thinking about the licenses and FOSS political failures.
@seachaint @nicol @balrogboogie excellent points, thank you! I still prefer going with ethical licenses rather than free software, but the idea of building the software itself to focus on the needs of people, and deliberately sabotage capitalist power-grabbing where you can, might be more important than any licensing nuances, I think 🤔
1. release my code under the Anti-Capitalist License, not because I think it will stop capitalists, but to get people thinking about the limitations of free software and what Freedom 0 implies and the definition of "non-free".
2. do what I can to make software better for marginalised, disabled etc. folx. (this often means design and writing and emotional intelligence not programming, but at the very least I can tell ppl hostilised by free software culture "yeah this thing sucks and your needs are valid, sorry the devs talked to you that way they're asses.")
3. unionise your IT colleagues.
4. along with your non-IT colleagues.
5. keep discussing, challenging the narrative, building community etc. trying to eventually congregate into something like what the early Linux scene was, except foregrounding political commitment, diversity and kindness.
6. join an org, do stuff that goes beyond software, the world is burning
...is a few random ideas I'm trying out, I'm not the model role here just some queer fumbling around
@seachaint @balrogboogie @ramona yes very much. And that inspires/attracts particular people and groups. I’m struck by how much the fediverse (and the coop-run instance I’m on) reminds me of the good, constructive & humane energy in earlier web movements, which is great but also triggers the natural question.. how would big business & the ruthless try to exploit/extract/ruin these spaces, and what could we do to limit that. Or perhaps that’s impossible by design.
@nicol @seachaint @balrogboogie my guess is that it's probably something halfway between – the design of the fedi is capitalism-hostile and (therefore) people-friendly, I often use it as a case study in that, but that doesn't mean it's *immune* to coöptation. (the capacity of capitalism to innovate is legendary, I'm speaking of course about innovating new ways of looting the commons and concentrating wealth.)
I'm not a fortune-teller, I mean ok I *am* a fortune-teller but just some queer, let's not rely on my cards to decide how to prevent fediverse cooptation. just keep eyes open and discussions going on how to keep it good. luckily I feel like most of the fedi feels the same way, not even the u.s. libertarians seem to want google to own this thing.
(personally, technology-wise what I miss the most in masto is end-to-end encryption)
Generalist Hometown instance with a strong focus on community standards. No TERF, no SWERF, no Nazi, no Centrist.