[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Practicality of GNU project and libre movement (Basic Income & Star

From: Paul D. Fernhout
Subject: Re: Practicality of GNU project and libre movement (Basic Income & Star Trek; transcending email via Linked Data to displace proprietary social media)
Date: Sun, 26 Jul 2020 12:16:07 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/68.10.0

Hi Jason,

In looking through this list's previous posts, I'm surprised no one has
mentioned a Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a way to support the
development, improvement, and maintenance of more free software (as well
as many other unpaid contributions to society that don't fit neatly into
exchange transactions given positive externalities).

A healthy society has a good mix of subsistence activities, gift-giving
& volunteer activities, exchange activities, and government-level
planned activities. (An example of a planned activity can be reversing
wealth centralization by redistribution like via a basic income and
progressive taxes - given more egalitarian societies have been shown to
be happier and healthier ones even for the wealthiest). Free software
could and should be a part of all four of those types of activities
(subsistence, gift, exchange, and planned).

To amplify your point about creating a Star Trek society, here are
examples of some things I have written over the years on finding the
funding to pay for a Star Trek Society and/or Universal Basic Income:

Form the first link:
"This essay shows how a total of $14000 billion up front and at least
another $2085 billion per year can be made available for creative
investment in the USA by adopting a post-scarcity worldview. This money
can help further fund a virtuous cycle of more creative and more cost
saving efforts, as well as better education. It calls for the non-profit
sector to help shape a new mythology of wealth and to take the lead in
getting the average person as well as decision makers to make the shift
in worldview to their own long term benefit. "

As Richard Stallman warned about, free software on the desktop is being
displaced for most people by proprietary services on the web. How can we
address that huge concern?

If I had two million dollars to spend on free software I would spend it
on re-conceptualizing something like Thunderbird to handle billions of
messages locally. That would help bring bring most social media back to
its origins in email -- as well as  through plugins adding support for
sensemaking via IBIS and Dialogue Mapping for making better collective

My ideas for that from 2015 -- although my day job has gotten in the way.
"This system could as eventually do everything Slack could do, but would
be open so that more plugins (written in JavaScript-compatible
languages) could be added for real-time shared whiteboards, chatting,
note taking, crowdsourced structure arguments, multi-perspective
sensemaking tools, Compendium-like IBIS concept maps, and more.  ...
Vendors might even sell US$50 Freedom-box-like "wallwarts" providing
Thunderbird Server pre-configured for home use (in a FreedomBox-like
way) where you just plug it in to power and your network and surf with
Firefox to a local address like a home router and suddenly have all
these amazing local semantic desktop tools. ... "

My most recent progress on aspects of that (yes, 15 versions f
experiments so far, and more related stuff before...):

Still, there are so many related efforts out there (Matrix, Mattermost,
Mastodon, Smallest-Federated-Wiki, Diaspora, NextCloud, Compendium, GNU
social, Loomio, numerous free email programs, etc.) that maybe $2
million would be better off spent on convincing developers to abandon
their own individual efforts and rally behind fewer but more flexible
platforms of higher quality? :-)

Or at least an effort could be made to get people to rally around
supporting some common free standards perhaps building on Linked Data
like JSON-LD -- even if the free implementations are all different?
"Linked Data empowers people that publish and use information on the
Web. It is a way to create a network of standards-based,
machine-readable data across Web sites. It allows an application to
start at one piece of Linked Data, and follow embedded links to other
pieces of Linked Data that are hosted on different sites across the Web.
JSON-LD is a lightweight Linked Data format. It is easy for humans to
read and write. It is based on the already successful JSON format and
provides a way to help JSON data interoperate at Web-scale. JSON-LD is
an ideal data format for programming environments, REST Web services,
and unstructured databases such as Apache CouchDB and MongoDB."

But it is also possible our free standards are not quite simple enough
yet? :-)
"How Standards Proliferate"

In any case, as I suggested here over a decade ago:
"A flow into foundations of $55 trillion is expected over the next 25
years: [see] Is Open Source the Answer To Giving? And TV watching is
consuming 2,000 Wikipedias per year: [see] Mining the Cognitive Surplus
So no one should seriously suggest the absence of money or time for R&D
and deployment is the problem for making either Spaceship Earth or
Spaceship Mars (OpenVirgle) work for everyone, even at the same time. It
comes down to issues like ideology and imagination, not "resources"."

So, maybe you are on to something with suggesting ad campaigns? :-)

(Tangential on your point on learning computing from the ground up: )

--Paul Fernhout (
"The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies
of abundance in the hands of those still thinking in terms of scarcity."

On 7/24/20 11:54 AM, jinnjus via libreplanet-discuss wrote:
>> I'm not saying there's nothing we could do with money, but what 
>> should we do with money? Buy ad campaigns? Hire designers and 
>> product managers to help create forks of popular projects that need
>> polish? Fund existing full-timers who create things we already use
>> and need but who just scrape by (if that)? Find people who wish to
>> go full time and pay them to do that on their existing project? 
>> Which projects?
> Perhaps ad campaigns, yes.  We are controlled by advertising 
> companies right now and we need to Marshall McLuhan style get people
>  to wake up and realize maybe we *don't* want to hand our lives over
>  to Google and Facebook.  That's a social concern above and beyond 
> free software.  Do we even want social media?  There is a movement 
> that all government software spending should be on FLOSS; why 
> shouldn't government be developing and protecting our digital 
> infrastructure according to the needs of it's citizens instead of the
> needs of advertising companies and corporate profit legal 
> obligations?  Get that message out once and for all in a way that is
>  convincing and can't be argued with.  Our digital infrastructure 
> does not need to be product-ified and upgraded periodically
> according to Moore's just needs to function.
>> Ok, I'm rambling too much, let's focus on the question at hand: if
>>  you had $2M right now to use on furthering the cause of free 
>> software, what should be done with it?
> If I had two million dollars I would fund a dead simple Free 
> operating system for kids to play with in schools.  Not just "free" 
> because the code is available, but freely accessible because it is 
> dead freaking simple.  Drop the Linux kernel and replace it with 
> Minix.  Drop Gnome and replace it with Openbox or something even 
> simpler like JWM.  DON'T make everything GUI configurable. DO MAKE 
> kids alter text configuration files and instill in them the Unix 
> philosophy of do one thing and do it well.  Then...force the 
> government to use it.  In Canada I can do this with the legal 
> system...not sure about elsewhere.
> I think the funding debate is a moot point that should eventually 
> lose relevance.  We don't need products.  We need a society that 
> functions according to the interests of it's citizens and I don't see
> that the commercial interests that have taken over tech (and our 
> society at large as a result) as being able to deliver that.  They by
> definition can't because they are profit driven by law.
> We need a Star Trek social system where living needs are met and 
> personal development is the goal rather than greed and profit.  THAT
>  is where GNU and Free Software are sitting.  It is the doorway.
> Let's get to work and stop worrying about where the money is and who
> is going to profit.
> My two cents on two million dollars.

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]