The Free Software Foundation is in the last week of its annual fundraiser and has still has a bit of ground to make up. The FSF needs members and donations to merely sustain its basic activity protecting free software and engaging in minimal outreach. So as I’ve done in the last couple years, I’ve written a fundraising appeal for the organization. That why today my face is plastered, Jimmy Wales style, all over the FSF website. (For the record, the last bit was not my idea and I find it a little embarrassing.)
My appeal this year begins with my feeling that as our lives become increasingly mediated by technology, the question of who controls technology becomes another way of asking "Who controls us?" Read the appeal for more.
That statement, like much of the FSF’s work, is not going to get very far with most users today. Most people don’t think of technology as the source of control, power, or autonomy. They don’t understand why software should be free or even what that might mean. Making this argument widely is something the FSF works hard to do. But supporting this work is a bit of a chicken-egg problem. The users we most need to reach have never heard our message and it can take some time to turn even the most receptive into supporters.
For those of us that do care about technology and the power it has over its users, it’s hugely important that we take action to support software freedom and organizations like the FSF that play a key place in this struggle. If we don’t, nobody else will. The pool of people who might support the FSF today is small — there are currently about 3,000 members — but the stakes are huge: A choice between a world of DRM, locked down mobile phones, and non-free network services on one hand, and the possibility of a world where there are free alternatives on the other. The FSF won’t win this fight alone, but it plays a critical role in it.
The FSF is a small, humble, and responsible non-profit and a little money can have a big impact. If you are not an FSF associate member, now would be a great time to join. Membership is $120 per year ($60 for students) and payable monthly. In preparing this appeal, I realized that my membership had lapsed a couple months ago and that my partner Mika was still donating at the reduced student price. We’ve personally fixed both these things and made an additional donation. If you are a member, you can check your status or make a donation. If you are not yet, Please consider joining us.