“When Free Software Isn’t Better” Talk

In late October, the FSF posted this video of a talk called When Free Software Isn’t (Practically) Better that I gave at LibrePlanet earlier in the year. I noticed it was public when, out of the blue, I started getting both a bunch of positive feedback about the talk as well as many people pointing out that my slides (which were rather important) were not visible in the video!

Finally, I’ve managed to edit together a version that includes the slides and posted it online and on Youtube.

The talk is very roughly based on this 2010 article and I argue that, despite our advocacy, free software isn’t always (or even often) better in practical terms. The talk moves beyond the article and tries to be more constructive by pointing to a series of inherent practical benefits grounded in software freedom principles and practice.

Most important to me though, the talk reflects my first serious attempt to bring together some of the findings from my day job as a social scientist with my work as a free software advocate. I present some nuggets from my own research and talk about about what they mean for free software and its advocates.

In related news, it also seems worth noting that I’m planning on being back at LibrePlanet this March and that the FSF annual fundraiser is currently going on.

12 Replies to ““When Free Software Isn’t Better” Talk”

  1. Great talk Benjamin. I watched it from start to finish. I’m not familiar with Dr. Landini’s work but speaking as a sociocultural anthropology PhD student and free software developer the idea of a “cultural subsidy” piqued my interest. Markets have cultures too. Perhaps someone out there is doing research into the ways in which cultures promoted by capitalism or even the cash economy itself interact with cultures centered on free software development?

  2. I had also watched the video start to the finish and came up to know many things that would help me to overcome. I think that culture has also their way to be in the market and I have also seen the people who are enforcing their capital to promote the market trends all what they are representing their aboriginal culture.

  3. Needs more pretentious scarf. The speech equivalent of widening margins and increasing font size. Voted most likely to clutter language with so much dead wood that no amount of pruning will reveal the speaker’s intensive protracted campaign of saying nothing at all.

        1. Well, I’m sorry about that then. And I really am!

          I grok that you think that the talk had too much air in it. Beyond that, your original comment read to me like an insult than real feedback. If you want to provide more specific constructive feedback that I can act on to help structure talks more effectively in the future, I’m completely happy to listen and to engage.

          1. You’re right. I’m sorry for insulting you. I will review your talk again and try to provide you with as much constructive feedback as I can. I hope you can accept my apology

            I think that when I first watched it was just a really bad day I was having and I projected my own anger onto you. It’s not an excuse but it is an explanation. Sorry again.

            p.s. My roommate really enjoyed the talk and yelled at me for giving you a hard time, if that makes up for it some?

  4. Hey Benjamin,

    Great talk – Are you going to give a talk at LibrePlanet this year? I am planning on going for the first time this year.



    1. Greetings Lev!

      I definitely am going to LibrePlanet this year but it looks like I probably will not give a talk. I’m going to be attending a board meeting for the FSF but I’m going to be around as much as I can. Come introduce yourself and lets chat!

  5. Thanks very much for this talk. Please continue to use your “day job” to talk in interesting ways about free software. The variety is interesting and beneficial.

    In my own activism related to free software I’ve found that admitting the technical limitations while celebrating the freedoms is often the most successful pathway to gaining thoughtful consideration about what proprietary offerings actually lack. Structurally, I really enjoyed that you closed with Openmoko’s more hidden benefits. Sometimes those benefits are overlooked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *