Over the years, I’ve published some of the articles I am most proud of on Advogato. As you can imagine, I was sad to see demise of Advogato announced early September and thrilled to see that by the end of the month, Steve Rainwater had stepped up to save the site.
For a belated welcome of Advogato back from the edge of the grave, I’ve published a short essay about the effectiveness of an analogy of software and writing on the site. In it, I introduce the analogy and argue that it is useful in advocating free software and programming education and in justifying the disproportionately large amount of programming related projects in the free software world. Here’s the intro:
Advocates of free and open source software, myself included, like to talk about the "democratizing" effect of free software. Others, especially non-programmers, are quick to point out that the only technical people can take advantage of half of the enumerated freedoms in FOSS. The freedoms to modify and collaborate mean little if you don’t know to program. Over time, I have come to the conclusion that the only good solution to this problem — and one that I was initially quite opposed to — is to teach everyone to program. In considering this position, the processes of reading and writing provide a useful analogy when considering the processes of using and creating computer software. Additionally, the analogy provides an powerful justification for the fact that FOSS programmers produce a disproportionately large amount of software that is primarily of interest to FOSS programmers.