Sunday, July 30, 2006

i must have missed the question

While traveling around a small city in north america this past month, one passed by a church surrounded by fast-food restaurants and shopping centers. It was not unlike most gathering places christians tend to flock to on this continent, though it bore something striking. In the parking lot was a large, curvaceous, beaming electric sign that demanded attention from passers-by - a sign similar in structure to other business billboards in the area advertising a variety of services and wares. In glowing red and white, many feet above one's head, it was not possible to avoid being told that - "JESUS IS THE ANSWER".

Monday, July 17, 2006

Skype News

Some fine news from China. A FOSS communications system based on the Skype protocol may soon become a reality. The protocol has been reverse-engineered by a group in China. Communications by chinese using Skype are being censored by the Chinese government. Because Skype and its protocol are proprietary, the Chinese government has been able to censor chosen information by striking a deal with the copyright holder. If a FOSS project attempted to do this, the users would always be free to escape.

Free software, "think free speech, not free beer."

Link via Siva.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Miguel's Patrick Henry

Miguel does an impressive rip, mix, and burn of Patrick Henry's liberty or death speech. Thanks Miguel for an entertaining and important reminder that freedom is what's at stake. The term "open source" has its roots of intention in the hush-hushing of freedom-talk in corporate/business circles. Perhaps such a specialized movement has value within such a context. As "open source" definition author Bruce Perens believes, it is important to "mainstream" free software using rhetoric built around "open source." If seen as a clever hack of the corporate software industry, the open source movement has been particularly useful and must be applauded. However, the "shhh! don't say 'free' or talk about freedom!" argument outside of its originally-intended business audience is, I believe, a faux pas. For the majority of us not trying to convince a corporate CEO that "open source" can make a buck, I may suggest using either the term "free software" or "FOSS".

It is good to see technology educators discuss and write about freedom. It is important for teachers to question everything and attempt - with their students and colleagues - to find out what is right for society. Whether or not one agrees with software freedom, it is imperative that such discussion in education occurs. Authentic, meaningful education is about examining and exploring such issues. Shun talk about freedom in schools, and you're sure to create people willing to hand it over without a second thought.