When I was 12 years old, I discovered free software. That discovery changed my life and I’ve never recovered.
Over what is now more than half of my life, I have looked to the Free Software Foundation for vision, guidance, and an example of a free world and I have rarely been disappointed. The list of directors of the FSF — Richard Stallman, Eben Moglen, Lawrence Lessig, Henri Poole, Gerry Sussman, Hal Abelson, and Geoffrey Knauth — doubles as a list of some of my greatest heroes and role models.
As such, I lack the words to describe how it feels that, just yesterday, I was elected to the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation. With Moglen having stepped down I have staggeringly large shoes to fill. I’m more than a little intimidated.
At 26 years old, I suspect that I’ll be the youngest person on the board by quite a bit. This means I’ll have to try and make up with hard work and passion what I lack in experience and wisdom. It’s a challenge I look forward to.
With free software becoming increasingly successful and widespread, we’ve already begun to see push back. I suspect that in the next years, we’ll see much more. We reaching the dangerous part of the, "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" progression. I’ll do what I can to defend freedom until we’ve won.
In order to ensure that I have the time necessary, I’m going to be resigning from the board of Software Freedom International and will consider reducing and resigning some of my other commitments as well. If you want to support my work with the foundation, you can become an associate member.
At the Free Culture National Conference a few weeks ago, Kevin Driscoll initiated a project that I feel is hugely important: he’s prompted the free culture community to state and share their vision.
While I’ve talked a lot about definitions in the past, I probably should have been talking about goals or vision. Kevin has created an important opportunity for all free culture stakeholders to step back and imagine what the world will look like when we win. By doing so, we end up defining a set of implicit goals for our social movement and can then set to work on the hard part: figuring out how we get there.
With thanks to Eben Moglen for much of the inspiration, here’s mine:
People remembered that there is no scarcity in information goods except where they have created it. As evidence grew of the positive effects of free culture and the toll of information ownership, our communities decided that we were not well served by limits on the flow and development of knowledge.
Accordingly, the gatekeepers and tax collectors for culture have withered away and were dismantled. We — the consumers, creators, and re-creators — have offered new, more ethical business models, have engaged in new methods of distribution, and have produced creative goods.
Today, access to information is a simple matter of connecting someone to a network and a community: a technical problem that we know how to solve. Nobody pays for the "right" to hear music, read a book, watch a movie, or use a piece of software. Nobody is forced to choose between being a bad neighbor or friend and breaking copyright law. No artist, musician, or author sells a million copies of anything and no artist, musician, or author has a day job.
Now it’s your turn. Eben Moglen tell us to not stop until we’re free. Let’s paint a picture of what that free world looks like. Most importantly, let’s challenge ourselves to find ways to make it possible.