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free software pessimism 

at this point it seems like free and open source software's role in choosing the direction of software is effectively over; we already live effectively in a dictatorship of google and apple and facebook. open source only has the power to donate labor to industry.

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free software pessimism 

I'm trying to come up with counter-examples to talk myself out of the pessimism. The cluster of cryptocurrency-related techs might be something like this, but it's not exactly a shining example. Changes the direction yes maybe, but just as a scam slash bubble.

free software pessimism 

@scanlime Still see a lot of Linux/Unix on the server side

free software pessimism 

@ghost_bird of course, people use open source stuff, but it's not in any position of power, there's no way to leverage that into anything except a donation of labor to industry

free software pessimism 

@scanlime What do you mean by power, here?

free software pessimism 

@ghost_bird power. ability to do things. political power. folks use free software as a way to achieve political goals, which is a thing that requires power. most types of software are no longer in a position to have any power.

free software pessimism 

@scanlime Handing computing power to the masses, kind of thing? Or are you thinking more of free software communities as places to start organising? (Granted these go together and it’s a matter of emphasis)

free software pessimism 

@ghost_bird i was speaking generally because i think it's a general concept, but to make things more specific.. we used to tout free software as a path to self-determinism and escape from megacorps, but those things are increasingly woven into parts of society that your individual computer has no bearing on. that type of power in that software is no longer relevant.

free software pessimism 

@scanlime Ah, okay, that makes sense. I think the diy ethos gets in the way there. Free software’s always been a hobbyist(*) thing, really, so it’s never had much popularity with people who don’t want to get their hands dirty

(*) Not quite the right term, but “specialist” and “self-selected elite” aren’t quite right either

free software pessimism 

@ghost_bird enthusiast maybe? it seems to me like a mix of reasons folks do this for, ranging from hobby to activism to industry, but maybe a common thread is that people have the time and energy to fuck with computers a lot.

free software pessimism 

@scanlime Yes, that’s a better term. I think perhaps it points to the root problem, which is that “I like fucking with computers” doesn’t have much scope for politics

free software pessimism 

@ghost_bird it almost always becomes political though, just in a way that people are bad at recognizing or talking about

free software pessimism 

@scanlime Yes, that’s why I said “not much scope”. You get Right to Repair and you get Pirate Parties and so on, but it doesn’t easily expand beyond issues that affect fucking around with computers. Unless you had something more in mind?

free software pessimism 

@ghost_bird there are loads of labor and supply chain issues too. it's hard to fuck-around-with-computers for long without having to decide how you feel about buying parts or using libraries from some entity

re: free software pessimism 

@scanlime @ghost_bird

This is why I've been saying a lot lately (albeit somewhat muffled, from underneath the pile of things I have to work on, touch the puppet head) that we need to explicitly build a community-driven software ecosystem.

This is going to require finding, in quantity, people who have capitalist value-tokens they're not using, and convincing those folk that contributing some of those tokens can help to make a better world via community-driven software.

Unfortunately, I suck at getting these ideas across to any useful degree.

wooz.dev/Software_Uprising

(...so my default has been to work on building a more traditional revenue-generation engine, aka "business", so I can collect those value-tokens more directly -- but that is taking a long time.)

free software pessimism 

@ghost_bird @scanlime the main reason FLOSS was used in infrastructure and for configuration infrastructure was because (in the enterprises i worked) ops is just a money sink to keep the lights on, not anything bringing in any new value, so infrastructure isn't allowed to cost anything.

free software pessimism 

@meena @scanlime Well, and it was an easy decision to replace commercial unix with free alternatives, too

free software pessimism 

@scanlime i mean microsoft had to implement WSL so they could have docker and shit

free software pessimism 

@jookia hm yeah, linux container infrastruture might be an example of something that is open source but still does manage to have some power over industry rather than just being subservient to it. i don't know how the orgs that run these projects are structured though.

free software pessimism 

@scanlime Maybe if we can collectively get out of the "working for free on something is in itself virtuous" rut

free software pessimism 

@scanlime things i've felt like software has been off-base for a long time, that applicationization divides computing rather than pulling-things-together & empowering us.

i think open source still has plenty of chances left. right now there are few promising avenues.

what seems clear is that software needs to be more connected. being able to work with our own data & systems from wherever is key. being able to work with others is great. open source has an additional challenge if it wants to play here, which it hasn't really mustered greatly to, which is seeding a good technical ecosystem for connective systems. there's plenty of distributed/p2p ideas floating around, plenty of NixOSes and yunohosts and proxmox's for standing up this or that kind of system, but i feel like none of it is quite directly taking aim enough at making & running good connected software. there's many challenges here, but still i think: yes we can.

free software pessimism 

@jauntywunderkind420 it really seems like software is never driving anything here, it's following the structures of the counter-cultural communities and companies that build it. if we are going to have interoperable open source we need a community structure that has more interconnection and diversity and resources

free software pessimism 

@scanlime powerful words. pretty strongly agreeing. it's extremely difficult for technical efforts to gain critical inertia, it feels like. techies have very particular & refined technical tastes & want not just the end-goal to be their way, but the implementations to also meet their expectations. it makes it hard for open source projects to ever truly get into the driver seat.

i expect to be laughed out the room but i not so secretly still think semantic web technologies stand a great chance of reconstituting themselves, coming together, to form an accessible, interconnected, diverse software platform. that open source especially can go wild with it. that and some more pluggable service-oriented webtech. efforts like Web Share help, but there's some other missing general interconnect layers for the web that we need.

it still, though, leaves the question of web hosting/operations semi-un-resolved. there's still a lot of missing layers all over the place.

but

free software pessimism 

@jauntywunderkind420 @scanlime At present we are doing too much gratis labor for BigTech, which they are then exploiting and using to take away people's freedom. There needs to be a culture change in which this type of activity becomes socially unacceptable.

People in the free software world need to become more politically savvy, and the cosy relationship with BigTech needs to end. Nobody should be being platinum sponsored by Google.

free software pessimism 

@scanlime Yea, we pretty much lost. Not that I thought we ever _really_ had a shot at making a change, but it's hard to even cling to the illusion anymore.

I guess our focus has to be on general community building, in physical spaces. Providing for people's needs in terms of food, meds, electricity, communication infrastructure, etc.

Libre tech must be a part of that but we're not going to reach people who don't want to be reached

re: free software pessimism 

Just to list a few @scanlime, Blender, Matrix (and the revival of XMPP), ActivityPub stuff and probably SourceHut are some relatively new traditional projects significant cultural impact. Some of the keys here are copyleft, no CLA to corporations and political advocacy.

re: free software pessimism 

@cnx I don't see any of those projects as setting a direction, though? They're all alternatives/responses to things that are already widely available in industry.

re: free software pessimism 

You are right @scanlime those are innovative (Blender recently became feature-creep in a useful way leading to mass adoption, Matrix introduces cross signing E2EE, SourceHut made email-triggered CI, etc.) but nobody really copied them, at least not yet.

The last time I saw design from FLOSS copied to nonfree space was the UI of GNOME 3, which was nearly a decade ago.

There are also huge innovation in language, compilers and concurrency but most of us aren’t really affected so we can mostly ignore that.

free software pessimism 

@scanlime I have had similar concerns.

Open Source has become a way to extract labour from the commons, but it can also lead people to earn money from building FLOSS and deploying Linux. So it's a good news/bad news situation.

Free Software has become a walled garden. You get to be in the walled garden if you are willing to make the necessary compromises and buy into the ideology.

It's a shame, because I originally bought into FLOSS as a means of widening tech literacy.

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