Section author: Vedran Miletić

Activism

The world is open, keep it open; it’s up to us.

This webpage will detail topics which are relevant for our present activist work towards more freedom in technology (including free and open source software and hardware). Note that here we are unapologetically ideological, but we strictly limit our activist work to the issues directly related to science and technology and stay outside of the mainstream political discussions. This includes following the mainstream, alternative, and specialized news sources that cover technology, society, digital privacy, copyright and related topics.

Beliefs and values

Ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and values matter because they affect how we do science and how we evolve technology. Peter Thiel states in The Education of a Libertarian:

The future of technology is not pre-determined, and we must resist the temptation of technological utopianism — the notion that technology has a momentum or will of its own, that it will guarantee a more free future, and therefore that we can ignore the terrible arc of the political in our world.

A better metaphor is that we are in a deadly race between politics and technology. The future will be much better or much worse, but the question of the future remains very open indeed. We do not know exactly how close this race is, but I suspect that it may be very close, even down to the wire. Unlike the world of politics, in the world of technology the choices of individuals may still be paramount.

Creating better technology the open source way

Not unlike Red Hat, we believe our mission is to be a part of the community that creates better technology the open source way. Both knowledge and software source code (which itself is a form of knowledge) are inherently non-scarce resources: once created, they can be infinitely copied as desired at little to no cost. We believe this inherent property of knowledge should be used to maximize the benefits it brings to society.

We strongly support various initiatives in open licensing, open access to scientific results, open standards, and open patents. Our activities in this regard include:

We frequently talk about the issues surroudning copyright, including Digital Millenium Copyright Act and its European counterparts, and patents.

Principles of open source outside of software

Laboratories such as Bradner Lab, projects such as Open Source Malaria and Open Source Biotechnology are early birds in this movement towards openness outside software. But, we are far from done here.

Outside of software, patents are a lot more crucial than in software (where copyright is the primary means of intellectual property protection). Luckily, there is already a practice called Patentleft described as:

Patentleft (also patent left, copyleft-style patent license) is the practice of licensing patents (especially biological patents) for royalty-free use, on the condition that adopters license related improvements they develop under the same terms. Copyleft-style licensors seek “continuous growth of a universally accessible technology commons” from which they, and others, will benefit.

Patentleft is analogous to copyleft, a license which allows distribution of a copyrighted work and derived works, but only under the same terms.

These ideas are legally implemented in Defensive Patent License and used in practice by Tesla. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, said the following:

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Windows on no PC

(Idea copied and adapted from Stop Disabling SELinux, a public service from Major Hayden.)

Microsoft’s original vision of PC on every desk, Windows on every PC, has largerly come true. Without a doubt, the success of PC and Windows has enabled many great things to happen, but its time has passed. Now is the time to go beyond it.

Nowadays, Windows, including technologies like DirectX, is just another legacy proprietary software that lives on thanks to the vendor lock-in, including Microsoft’s control over the Secure Boot ecosystem. With modern DirectX games being Windows Store exclusive and Microsoft shaking down the Android and Linux communities for patent licenses, the situation will only get worse in the future.

Every time you use Windows to play games, you make Gabe Newell weep. He is our great lord and he certainly doesn’t deserve that.

Let’s end dominance of Windows together. Use Linux or SteamOS, report bugs, fix things, and help others to do the same. Refuse to buy games that do not run on SteamOS.

Let’s open the PC further. Let the vision for the future of computing be Windows on no PC.