Archive for the Software Category

    Hace un mes atrás, David Teller publicó una entrada en su blog explicando con tranquilidad y en detalle el polémico proceso detrás de la deprecación de XUL+XPCOM, el mecanismo que utilizaba Firefox en su interfaz de usuario hasta su versión 57, de Noviembre del 2017.

    Aquella decisión, decía, fue polémica, porque implicó perder el enorme ecosistema de agregados (“addons”) que tenía Firefox, y que constituía una de las razones principales para usar ese browser en lugar de Google Chrome. Y tan polémica fué que todavía hay gente enojada al respecto, además de gente que directamente dejó de usar Firefox. En mi cámara de eco prácticamente todes vieron a la iniciativa como un tiro en el propio pié de Mozilla. Y las razones detrás de esa iniciativa fueron aquellas a las que ya nos tiene acostumbradas la informática contemporanea: “velocidad”, “seguridad”, y “lo que quieren les usuaries”.

    Eso último quizás sea un poco injusto, porque buena parte de las justificaciones para el cambio estuvieron también sostenidas en las muchas dificultades de Mozilla para continuar sosteniendo Firefox. Pero mi punto es que esas dificultades van a existir elijan el camino que elijan, razón por la cuál las excluí de la lista. Quizás haya otro debate en esto, que no es el que me interesa en este momento, así que lo dejaré apenas en esta mención.

    El post de Teller relata detalles históricos de XUL+XPCOM, cosas que fueron sucediendo alrededor de la web, y los problemas que enfrentó Mozilla a la hora de sostener Firefox, frente a lo cuál se terminó decidiendo migrar hacia otro sistema conceptualmente diferente. El post es excelente, y de lectura recomendada: tanto es así, que se hizo popular y objeto de discusión, llegando a que la sección de comentarios en la entrada fuera todavía más interesante que el post mismo. Y hace varias semanas quiero tomarme el tiempo de escribir acerca de esas discusiones.

    Para no hacer un texto infinito, voy a ir al grano: Teller habló de “competir con Chrome” en su publicación, y diferentes personas aparecieron a discutir contra eso. Tanto es así que eventualmente Teller terminó editando el artículo (con una mención explícita a este hecho como nota al final) para reemplazar “competir con Chrome” por “tan rápido, estable, y seguro, como Chrome”. Y es que, me parece, esa cuestión dá en el punto neurálgico de un problema muy generalizado.

    Se puede observar, por ejemplo, que el primer comentario es de Jeremy Andrews, que se ocupa del mantenimiento de Pale Moon (un fork de Firefox pre-57) para el sistema Solaris. Y, debatiendo con el artículo, y precisamente contra la idea de “competir contra Chrome”, plantea un argumento respondiendo a la pregunta “por qué alguien haría algo como esto”, en el sentido de “por qué alguien haría otra cosa que no sea competir contra chrome”. Y dice lo siguiente:

(…) I’m doing it for the people that have been left behind since about 2007 when the iPhone and Facebook changed the world. The people that still mostly use their desktop PCs and like being able to tweak or customize everything. People who largely feel that they’re being asked to accept that the freedom and choice of the early Internet is being phased out in favor of security, top-down decision making, centralization, and lack of real choices. (…)

    Daniel Eriksson le responde esto otro:

(…) Up until 2010 I was always excited about new technology since it always gave me new possibilities and made it possible to do more in a way that suited me, and then that changed. Now I worry about new releases of software, fearing what useful function or option might have been taken away this time. (…)

    Eso se parece mucho a lo que comenzó a suceder en el ecosistema Windows a finales de los ’90. ¿Quién no comenzó a guardar instaladores de versiones anteriores, o incluso versiones portables de algún programa (que por aquel entonces era simplemente copiarse el directorio de instalación), porque las nuevas versiones eran contraproducentes en muchos sentidos? Todavía debo tener un Winamp 2 en algún CD, configurado como a mí se me antojara, porque las versiones posteriores se colgaban y pedían más recursos. Y esta práctica comenzó a entrar en crisis cuando mil cosas pasaron a tener dependencias online, y entonces los chequeos de versión o los cambios de protocolos hacían que simplemente dejaran de funcionar, dejando ninguna otra opción más que instalar versiones nuevas. Y son cosas que están sucediendo en el mundo del software libre, hoy mismo: Gnome cada día más “user friendly” y con interfases o hasta nombres de programas más y más tontas, dependencias demoníacas inesquivables inyectadas en el corazón de los sistemas más grandes (te estoy mirando a vos systemd), QT volviéndose privado, x86 siendo deprecado por todos lados como si ya no se usara… y, lógico, una web obesa que ya no permite ni leer blogs en una netbook de tanto javascript de notificaciones y trackeo.

    Pero la mención a “competir contra Chrome” suscitó un debate largo, lleno de intercambios, que les recomiendo revisar. A mí me interesa la justificación detrás del “competir contra Chrome”: telemetría. Es el nombre, no sé si técnico o comercial, para “los datos de actividad del usuario”. Descartemos la cuestión de la privacidad, que me parece secundaria para mi planteo (alguien ya dice en los comentarios “ningún power user tiene eso activado”): acá hay un tema político y epistémico.

    Epistémico, porque los criterios para evaluar la realidad están siendo constantemente constrastados con nubes de datos que la reemplazan. Político, porque sospecho que esto está en el corazón de todos los cambios para mal en las comunidades de software en general, y software libre en particular.

    Como programador, y persona de ciencia, entiendo el valor de los datos. Pero como activista, y persona de arte, también entiendo sus límites. Los datos son apenas un ingrediente a la hora de construir un mapa de una realidad. Hay otros, y cualquier proyecto requiere tenerlos en cuenta al menos con la misma prioridad. Hoy, en todo ámbito de la tecnología, e incluso de la ciencia, estamos viendo una tendencia espiralada y recursiva entre el acto de recopilar datos y de generar cualquier idea de futuro mundo posible alrededor de ellos. Y esto es seductor, no sólo por ser un recurso poderoso y una novedad de época, sino porque cura y hasta revive nuestra desvastada búsqueda moderna de objetividad: aquella seguridad en alguna verdad incuestionablemente legítima que pudiera guiarnos en ese océano de incertidumbres que es el futuro. En los datos hay una forma muy particular de verdad, que es especialmente estimulante: la aleteia.

    Pero es un espejismo, que generaciones anteriores ya conocieron, al mismo tiempo que supieron redescubrir cómo los mundos y futuros posibles también pasan por las esperanzas, las éticas, o los principios, que bien pueden tomar distancia de esos datos en lugar de abrazarlos. Ahí es donde la política y el arte tienen lecciones qué enseñar.

    Está el tema del sesgo. Pero, frecuentemente, el sesgo es evaluado como “un defecto”, que tiene como consecuencia “alejarse de la objetividad”; y yo más bien pretendo reivindicarlo. Pero para eso primero hay que comprenderlo. El sesgo existe, y si bien tiene paliativos, eso no se traduce en una objetividad plena ni mucho menos. Cuando a esa situación le sumamos que quienes hacen software no necesariamente hacen ciencia, cabe ciertamente la pregunta de a qué viene la pretensión de objetividad en los datos, o incluso los datos a secas.

    ¿Qué hace Mozilla? Con su software, con sus usuaries, con sus datos. ¿Para qué quiere una “telemetría”? Y mirando aquella situación de “competir contra Chrome” desde esta perspectiva, mucho más que “lo que quieren les usuaries”, lo que se desprende es que las respuestas a las preguntas iniciales de este párrafo se responden con “Mozilla pretende comportarse como Google”. Y esto es muy preocupante. Pero no por “la seguridad de los datos” (el cuco del progretariado informático contemporáneo), sino porque resulta políticamente aberrante para la historia de Mozilla.

    Mozilla se supone que sea una fundación sin fines de lucro, que supo ser campeona de una web libre y empoderadora de usuarios. Mozilla fue quien se levantó y peleó contra Microsoft, logrando el por aquel entonces improbable triunfo que hoy es absolutamente invaluable: hacer que la web no quede centralizada alrededor de Microsoft. Firefox luchó contra Internet Explorer, dando una batalla de resistencia durante una década entera, hasta que la injerencia de Apple y de Google terminaron por enterrar las esperanzas de Microsoft por controlar internet. Y, recordemos, cuando todos debíamos hacer nuestras páginas web compatibles con IE6, cuando nuestros bancos y organismos estatales exigían IE para realizar operaciones, cuando buena parte de internet no funcionaba sin plugins dependientes de Windows, lo cerca que estuvo de suceder ese final tan nefasto, lo lunático que parecía plantear cualquier otro futuro. A Mozilla le debemos nuestra eterna gratitud y respeto por haber dado esa batalla de la manera que lo hizo.

    Al principio (y ese “principio” duró años), Google recomendaba usar Mozilla Firefox en sus sitios web, des-recomendando así internet explorer. Eventualmente surgió Google Chrome, basado en el código de Safari, para después basarse en su propio código algunos años después. Los negocios de Google llevaron a centralizar más y más sus operaciones en el uso de Google Chrome, siendo hoy el nuevo internet explorer de-facto. Pero hoy en día, a diferencia de lo que sucedió con Microsoft, Mozilla parece querer seguir los pasos de Google en lugar de combatirlo: toma a su browser como una referencia en lugar de con una postura crítica. Y en el centro de ese fenómeno se encuentran los datos: algo que en su pelea anterior no existía como hoy lo conocemos.

    Y es que los datos, efectivamente, indican que les usuaries prefieren Google Chrome. Pero eso es así de la misma manera que hace 20 años los datos hubieran indicado lo mismo sobre Internet Explorer. Muy probablemente también hubieran recopilado datos que indicaran a Internet Explorer siendo más rápido en algunas tareas (como el startup, por estar integrado al sistema operativo), o incluso que los infinitos problemas técnicos de Internet Explorer no podrían importarle menos a la gente (ya que lo siguieron utilizando por muchísimo más tiempo del que debió tolerarse, y no precisamente por “la experiencia de usuario”). Seguramente todos tenemos amigues que utilizan internet sin adblocker, y que esa internet la viven como el estado natural de las cosas, del mismo modo que utilizan para ello Google Chrome. Y, claro, eso genera datos.

    Sin embargo, mi problema con esos datos no es que puedan ser sesgados, en el sentido de “interpretados de diferentes maneras”: mi problema es la interpretación actual que hace Mozilla. Porque hace 20 años, Firefox hubiera interpretado “tenemos que hacer algo contra Google Chrome, porque caso contrario va a centralizar la web imponiendo su cultura”, mientras que hoy interpreta “tenemos que ser como Google Chrome”.

    Y aquí es donde tenemos que ver a Mozilla tomando un poco más de distancia. Porque aquella entrada de blog apareció en la misma semana que Mozilla anunciaba cientos de despidos, del mismo modo que esta entrada mía de blog aparece la misma semana que Mozilla anuncia la desactivación de servicios. Y esto, por supuesto, está profundamente relacionado con los costos de desarrollo y mantenimiento que se mencionan en el blog de Teller.

    Mozilla se está comportando mucho más como un negocio que como organización sin fines de lucro. Mira a los datos de la misma manera que cualquier empresa: buscando réditos económicos. Su sesgo interpretativo se parece tanto al de los privados porque está siguiendo la línea de dónde se puede obtener dinero, y esa lógica siempre apunta a las hegemonías y en detrimento de las periferias (con la notoria excepción de las elites).

    Y es que el problema es real. Este problema del financiamiento, y los costos que surgen una vez alcanzada cierta escala de operación, no son un problema exclusivo de Mozilla. Es el mismo problema que lleva Canonical a hacer tratos con Microsoft, a RedHat a venderse a IBM, y al deplorable estado actual de la Fundación Linux. Todas las comunidades de software libre se encuentran cada vez más asediadas por cuestiones de financiamiento, debido a que creció enormemente su escala de operación. El software libre ha ganado batallas y hasta guerras enteras, y este es el costo de esos triunfos: esta es la lógica de la centralidad en el capitalismo, que las comunidades de software libre en general no parecen querer enfrentar formalmente.

    Sin embargo, de Mozilla espero un poco más que esto, y ahí es donde empiezo a preocuparme en serio. Porque Mozilla es un referente, y claramente no le está encontrando la vuelta al asunto. Permítanme desviarme unos segundos, para dar algunos ejemplos de lo que estoy hablando.

    No conozco a nadie que apague su modem de cable o adsl durante la noche. Es decir que, aunque no se esté utilizando, a diferencia de con el dial-up de antaño, nuestras casas están todo el día conectadas a internet. O sea que son, básicamente, un pequeño datacenter en potencia. ¿Qué nos impide servir contenidos desde nuestras casas? Tecnológicamente es una tontería que requiere muy poco trabajo agregado a las cosas que ya existen; la limitación es enteramente cultural. Y esa cultura nos lleva a que el común de la gente, e incluso usuaries avanzades, hoy no tengan una idea clara de a dónde ir si quisieran levantar un sitio web en algún lado. Del mismo modo, frecuentemente se argumenta que la “internet gratis en realidad no es gratis”, y se habla de todos los costos de infraestructura que tiene la internet que conocemos: rápida, 24/7 online, accesible desde todo el mundo, etc. ¿Y por qué tiene que ser así internet? ¿Por qué no puede haber sitios web que funcionen a diferentes horarios, como cualquier otra operación humana del montón, que precisamente se acota para abaratar costos y respetar condiciones de trabajo sanas? ¿Por qué no podría mi sitio web personal funcionar sólo entre tal y tal horario, que básicamente es cuando yo prendo o apago mi computadora en mi casa? ¿Por qué debería garantizar que alguien desde Hong Kong o Noruega o Emiratos Árabes pueda conectarse a mi sitio web, cuando no podría importarme menos si no lo hacen? ¿Por qué mi sitio web no podría estar disponible sólo a cierta comunidad más inmediata y cercana, teniendo entonces la posibilidad de ir a hostear mi sitio internacional en Amazon o Google si así lo deseara? ¿Y por qué tiene que ser todo rápido? ¿Qué problema hay con que quienes leen esperen 30 segundos o un minuto a que se cargue la página, si lo importante es el contenido y no su velocidad?

    Más ideas: la web está obesa, háganla bajar de peso. ¿Por qué no generar otros lenguajes de hipertexto, que sean más livianos y menos costosos de mantener (para alguien que hace un browser) que HTML? ¿Por qué no lenguajes concentrados más en texto y estilos que en “estructura” o scripting? ¿Por qué no tener como parámetro “que ande bien en hardware del tercer mundo” o “en hardware de hace 15 años”, en lugar de apuntar a la novedad? ¿Qué no hay acaso millones y millones de personas interpeladas por desarrollos como esos, ya que Mozilla busca “datos” o “mercado”?

    Fíjense que son preguntas muy inmediatas, con respuestas muy sencillas, que hacen a diferentes ideas del futuro de la web. Apliquen las mismas preguntas a nuestros servicios de mensajería, a quién recopila qué datos para qué fines, a cómo nos informamos de qué cosas, etc. Sin embargo, Mozilla, uno de los otrora campeones en la defensa y creación de una web para les usuaries, que podría estar trabajando en cosas como esas y de hecho lograr resultados muy rápidamente, hoy pone todos sus esfuerzos en ser como Google, en buena medida porque tiene gastos qué pagar. Pero además de los gastos, también tiene mucho qué ver con la gente que conforma al equipo de Mozilla, y la gente que forma a nuestras comunidades; porque en los últimos 20 años hubo mucho recambio de gente, y se sumó gente más jóven, cuyos anhelos y formación cultural y política son muy diferentes a las generaciones fundacionales de las mismas comunidades. Allí empiezan a operar muchos factores humanos, y allí también aparecen muchos vectores de influencia cultural corporativa. De repente hay millones de personas creyendo que Microsoft “ahora es bueno”, que incrementar la velocidad de las cosas “es una necesidad” (en los múltiples sentidos del término “necesidad”, y aún sin darse cuenta de que eso significa diferentes cosas), encaran la política con un ímpetu frenético que deja muy poco espacio a la reflexión crítica (y ahí entran desde la ultrapolarización hasta fenómenos como la cancelación de Stallman), y que frecuentemente confunde “novedad” con “progreso”.

    El caso Mozilla es representativo y sintomático: está concibiendo a la web como un espacio de mercado antes que como espacio cultural; o, peor todavía, reduciendo la idea de cultura a la de mercado. Cuando uno hace eso, lo que ese sesgo elimina son muchos hechos absolutamente cruciales a la hora de pensar una mejor internet, e incluso una mejor informática en general. Hechos como que muches de nosotres no realizamos nuestras actividades con animos de lucro, y que buena parte de la informática como la conocemos funciona gracias a eso: está lleno de gente en el mundo que está dispuesta a colaborar en miles de iniciativas, si las condiciones fueran las adecuadas, y sin que eso signifique costos importantes para Mozilla; y esa es la lógica del artista o del activista, no la del “empleado” o el “productor”. Hechos como que el rol de internet hace 20 años y ahora es completamente diferente, y hay otros actores involucrados: hoy el acceso a internet es considerado un derecho. ¿Por qué Mozilla no se concentra en trabajar más cerca de los estados nacionales como una fuente de ingresos, llevando adelante iniciativas vinculadas a derechos digitales, y generando otros datos distintos desde esa perspectiva? Apliquen eso a Latinoamérica, y estamos hablando de centenas de millones de personas (para nada un “mercado” chico) que no tienen los mismos problemas que la gente de Estados Unidos (el origen fundamental de “los datos” hoy por hoy), y que también necesitan soluciones. ¿No era que Internet era internacional? ¿Por qué incluso no apuntar hacia la ONU, que ya le presta atención a Internet hace tiempo, y Mozilla tiene un currículum qué presentar? Y esto es una crítica que se aplica perfectamente a todas las organizaciones de software libre en general. Desde este punto de vista, la necesidad real de dinero se parece más a una excusa, y el problema es la línea política que están adoptando mucho antes que el financiamiento.

    Y aquí cabe aclarar también una salvedad importante. Pedirle a Mozilla que venga a arreglar los problemas informáticos de Argentina es absolutamente injusto y fuera de lugar: en todo caso, las organizaciones políticas de Argentina deberían ir a buscar a Mozilla. Pero también es cierto que el ímpetu por “competir con Chrome”, que Teller necesitó terminar aclarando a qué se refería, es una línea política que se aleja mucho de la posibilidad de un diálogo con ningún actor que no sea un leviatán económico: porque contra eso está pretendiendo compararse. Cuando el enemigo era Internet Explorer, si bien es cierto que Firefox funcionaba mejor, esa no era la razón por la que muchos defendíamos a Mozilla, sino su rol de cara al futuro de la web. Hoy, que no me consta que Chrome funcione mejor que Firefox (“mejor” es muy diferente a “se ven más rápidas algunas animaciones”), pareciera que “funcionar mejor” es la única métrica a revisar. Y no es así: eso, de hecho, está mal.

    Lo que sucede con Mozilla, entonces, es para preocuparse, porque me parece lo mismo que le pasa a muchos otros referentes de décadas anteriores. Y esto se resuelve con política antes que con software o dinero. Nuestras comunidades necesitan referentes, que tengan una visión política clara, que determinen las discusiones, y que marquen un rumbo: cualquier financiamiento y evaluación de iniciativas tiene que estar sometido a esa clase de parámetros. Necesitamos a nuestros referentes para poder guiar a las juventudes expectantes de participación en los cambios que les involucran: una guía absolutamente necesaria para que no suceda de nuevo lo que sucedió con Stallman (la brutal tergiversación de sus dichos por parte de medios financiados por enemigos del software libre, sin que haya una rotunda respuesta de referentes en su defensa). No pueden ser tan permeables a la influencia corporativa nuestras organizaciones políticas, y mientras eso siga sucediendo no hay debate sobre ningún software ni ningún dato que pueda protegernos de la próxima operación corporativa en detrimento de nuestros derechos. Necesitamos guías para la organización y la resistencia, mucho antes que financiamientos.

    Para cerrar, apenas una observación. Aquel post de Teller lo leí durante mi horario de almuerzo en mi trabajo, e intenté esbozar una respuesta rápida. Cuando intenté responderle en la sección de comentarios, sucedió que el blog utiliza Medium para gestionar comentarios; y si bien tengo una cuenta de medium (que si mal no recuerdo creé exclusivamente para responder a otro post de otros blog de un empleado de Mozilla), no recordaba mi contraseña. De modo que intenté recuperar mi contraseña, y dejé el asunto para otro momento. Dos días después, luego de reiterados intentos, Medium no me enviaba el link para recuperar mi contraseña. Por esta razón decidí utilizar algún login con servicio de terceros. Tengo una cuenta de Twitter, que nunca uso, de modo que elegí esa credencial; pero cuando fuí a loguearme, Twitter me dijo que Medium “necesitaba” acceder a datos privados, que no recuerdo cuales eran, pero que me escandalizaron; cosas como “mis mensajes privados”, o “mi lista de contactos”, o algo por el estilo, que de ninguna manera permití. Entonces probé loguearme con una cuenta de gmail, que tampoco uso salvo raras excepciones: y allí me ofreció dos links con políticas de privacidad y de recopilación de datos, que ya no leí y simplemente resigné. Para cuando hice eso, el post ya tenía edits vinculados a lo que yo iba a observar (aquello de “competir contra chrome”), por lo cuál tuve que modificar mi comentario. Pero como si todo esto fuera poco, cuando luego al otro día fuí a revisar si habían respondido a mi comentario, resulta que no aparece: publiqué mi comentario, pero evidentemente ha de estar shadowbaneado de alguna manera.

    Entonces: si para dialogar con alguien de Mozilla tengo que entrar a un blog hosteado en Github (Microsoft), poner mis datos a disposición de otro tercero (Medium), para encima tener que loguearme con credenciales de otro tercero más (Twitter o Google), y que encima todo eso pareciera haberme censurado… si en todo eso la gente de Mozilla no vé un problema político… en ese caso me temo que debemos preocuparnos por el estado de la política en nuestras organizaciones activistas.

    2019 was a dark year for Free Software. Its enemies grow stronger every day, the once clear lines that show where are its allies are slowly begin to blur, but more importantly (and tragically), its leaders are falling from grace. And all of this is happening even when GNU/Linux is running everywhere, being used more than ever, and monsters of old like Windows or MS Office are suffering the rapid loss of relevance in the IT world. Their souls somehow manage to flee from their rotting carcasses and into their enemies bodies, and so today we have RedHat as a little software toy for IBM, while Mozilla keeps on losing user base behaving like if it were a for-profit company and Canonical keeps on working closely with Microsoft from years now. That list of fallen champions is long, and techrights is full of data about it. Yet, 2019 marks the year even our institutions are crumbling, with a quiet and polite Trovalds getting older faster than ever, and Stallman socially cancelled and out of its chair: not even the Linux Foundation or the Free Software Foundation are safe places for us anymore.

    Many of us don’t know what to do about it, and so we struggle in uncertainty to find some solid ground where to take a breathe and think calmly for a moment about the future. But it all feels like quicksands everywhere, and standing still feels as dangerous as moving.

    However, if one takes some distance from all the mess, this is actually some kind of worldwide trend about mostly anything you can imagine. The world itself is in crisis, and in every sphere of human praxis we walk between ghosts of the past and shadows of a gloomy future. It doesn’t matter if you’re a physics theorist or a plumber, you most likely gonna deal with the current crappy state of affairs around you: be it financial, sociologial, environmental, or any other kind. Few things are really ok this days.

    There are several reasons why I start by saying all this. The first one that comes to mind: this is pandemic, and not really anybody’s fault (in the sense that is bigger than ANY of us). We’re just people, doing people stuff, and shit happens to us. Nobody of us has all the variables in its mind, or have all the time in the world to think about every move. That’s how life works, and what we do about it is keep on going: as simple and as difficult as that. So, in a way, we also know what to do with our loved movement, with or without the FSF, RMS, or whatever we decide to use tomorrow to mark the path.

    But there’s another, more important reason to bring all that up. Last days, there were two guest articles published in techrights (“Plans that worked“, by figosdev, and “FSM out of the box“, by Jagadees) which I want to add a few things in response. And what I want to add is some political aspects of the Free Software movement for us all to discuss. Yet, I don’t want a point by point response, but a more conceptual one. I would like to give some perspective about the future of Free Software, from a political point of view. And that’s where the rest of the world comes in.

    See, discussions about Free Software usually go over either technical aspects of software, technical aspects of FSF’s four freedoms, or technical aspects of licensing. Obviously those issues are tightly coupled themselves, and so it’s expected to happen. And I believe Jagadees was right when she/he said “we have to think from a user’s rights perspective and mobilise users of Free software”. However, I also believe she/he was wrong about the characterization of users rights, and I’m actually against her/his claim of “no need for new laws or regulations”. It’s important to explain why. And for that I’m gonna take a few detours. But we’ll be back on track later, I promise.

    As said before, there’s crisis everywhere. The world is a mess. The status quo is crumbling no matter where you look at, and so everybody embraces their ideologies of old as lifeguard rafts in the middle of the ocean. So much is like that that even capitalism itself is taking lots of punches lately, and suddenly we have the ghost of socialism floating around the cities of even the most powerful countries in the world, as if the cold war had never truly ended. Some see this ghost as China and Rusia gets stronger and smarter, but others as capitalism grows tiresome day after day for whatever the reason. Seems that having no alternative system is not really helping to get any peace anywhere. And when somebody brings that up, with all the problems it carries, from the left or from the right there’s always some people happy to tell you with a smug and disapproval face: “It’s the economy, stupid”.

    Here’s my answer to that people: “tell that to Chile”. Go on, take a look at what’s happening there, in that capitalist oasis created in the 80’s as example for the world. Their economy is great: at least from the macro indicators. And yet, 1.5 millon people go to the streets in a country of 15 million, because “fuck that, life sucks anyway, we had enough of this”. Leftist people tends to celebrate what’s happening in Chile this days. Then’s when I also say this: “tell that to Bolivia”, where they live the most groundbreaking economical achivements of their history, with non-interrupted growth for more than a decade, and all that under a socialist flag. Yet, no matter how prosperous it may be its economy or social investment, Bolivia falls under a coup like nothing, and hateful people fills the streets in a maniac racist and anticomunist spree. Then all stop smiling, and we can say: take a look at Brazil, what they did with the former presidents and what they have now; the same stuff was done in Paraguay years before. Take a look at Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala. Go check it out. Remember Maduro and Venezuela? Remember their imminent fall, with the US and the EU and the UN against them? They’re still there, while others have fallen. Try to explain what’s happening with your old-school economical tricks. Then you may say “well, that’s LATAM, that’s how third world works”. But if you go take a look at France, you find her full of conflict. Take a look at England, with all their brexit crap. Take a look at the extreme right-wing movements growing in France, Italy, Spain, or even the very taboo Germany. Is that the third world? And they’re not even the ones with their ex-reality-show-runner president ruling from Twitter like if the world were some kind of videogame! Have you not seen those videos of the skinny polar bears? Even the artics are a mess. And please, PLEASE, I beg you, let’s just not go to the Middle East or Africa…

    My answer to that people is quite simple: “no, it’s politics, you god damn insensible brute”. It was never about any technical issue: not economical, not ideological, not sociological, not religious. It’s always a mix of it all, and much more than that. It involves everything that has remotely to do with people interacting with each other; which is the very basic definition of “politics”. Unless you’re nomad somehow, you live somewhere, and so even if you fart is a political issue. Hell… you’ll have that problem even if you’re not living anywhere! And that’s how modern life works. Whatever you do, the other is the limit. Which is a VERY problematic limit, as everyone is different; and we already tried all the tricks in the book to try to generalize people, without success.

    Modern life also had to deal with its own inherited crap from ages before her. The discourse of method is one of those things. See, if you take a look around, everybody seems to be looking for a definitive way to mine some truth from reality that help them keep their sanity. Since Science was invented, everybody wanted a piece of its security and reliability. But that kind of truth is also what gives people faith, hope, and direction in life, so Science is really sexy. And so we HATE SO MUCH lies and being wrong in modern life: it make us feel powerless fools. However, modern life has lots of proven wrong ideas. Science itself has its own share of big bad crimes, and with all our achievements we’re still trying to figure out how to deal with each others. And guess what: there was no ultimate method for anything.

    Ideologies are probably nothing but that: another instance of science ideals taken too far, mixed up with that old need of controlling others. They (the ideologies) are of course part of the problem. Yet their role of explaining how we should behave make them special. Today, we cannot escape to think if this or that is “good for the market”, or “good for the people”, or “good for the nation”, as if those where crucial parameters. And we’re now stuck in that when we think about society.

    But enough random ramblings, let’s take from that and go back to Free Software. I remember once RMS saying that people usually asked him if Free Software movement were about left-wing or right-wing politics. And he answered this: “it actually has things of both”. Which is weird to think about in a polarized world. Yet, he was a weird man with weird ideas. In that same meeting, he explained to all of us present that our country (Argentina) was wrong about using a single unique ID for all of their citizens (“DNI”, “Documento Nacional de Identidad”, “National Identity Document”). It was really weird, as I used my DNI for my whole life, and none of us could imagine a life without it. Then he told us, whithout us asking: “I know for a fact it’s not necessary to have a single unique ID, because I come from a country that doesn’t have such thing: we use many IDs”. He explained us that the DNI was a tool that gave too much power to the state over us, which is a wrong thing in itself.

    And that was unexpected: we were suddenly talking about the power we give to the state, in a meeting where everybody was asking if this or that distro was ok to use, or if this other software was good or bad. It wasn’t unexpected for my friends and I, as we were from an humanistic university and politics is very much what we deal with every day: but for other lots of people it was strange. RMS always knew, and obviously still knows, that Free Software Movement is a political movement before any other characteristic. And yet, even when my friends and I were no stranges to political debate, RMS words were still weird, and even kinda silly: he was trying to address Software Freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which by us was too much and actually ridiculous.

    That was about 2009, maybe 2010. I myself always had all sorts of ridiculous political ideas, so I didn’t cared too much about that. But others did, and finding something ridiculous was important for them: they considered their activism a very serious thing, and so didn’t wanted to be looked at as silly crazy people. That alone caused distance from FSM and other movements there. Can you imagine trying to explain the importance of Free Software to people fighting against local hunger? We’re talking about a target people with barely access to clothes. And even speak to them about Human Rights from Free Software? Trust me, the polite ones just smile a little in disbelief and just walk away.

    A decade later, the world is full of noise. Bad noise. And Stallman “silliness” is no longer funny. And so this decade finds us troubled about the future of FSM and what to do about it. Jagadees tells us to focus in users rights, and I fully agree. But there’s a problem: that “rights” thing… I don’t think that word means what you think it means, Jagadees. See, there are big operational differences between “freedoms” and “rights”: freedoms are practiced, while rights are enforced. And in modern life, the enforcers of rights are the States, and they do that by the body of local and international law. You don’t have any “right” regarding the four freedoms whithout the GPL working as expected; which is by itself also kind of a response to figosdev.

    Rights are not the same as Freedoms. They may look alike, but they’re not the same. Here in LATAM we know the difference very well, as a result of our XX century history. Here, “freedom” means “free market”, and we have learned to hate that word. “Freedom” is written with glowing ink in the banners of neoliberalism militants here. Shitty people use that word here to justify hunger policies. That alone should be enough, but sadly is not all. Freedom’s also the very slogan of the other side of that coin: the guerrilla. All LATAM had their freedom fighters, battling oppression with militaristic tactics. I don’t exaggerate when I say “freedom” here may mean sorrow and despair. For us, the feeling over that word is the same as the one with any other lie in modern life: it makes us feel powerless and fools. And so we also have this tendency to give the state more power, so it can enforce our rights over the freedom of the people much more powerful than us. We don’t want freedoms, we want rights.

    The State is our modern tool for real power. Neoliberalists say that’s the root of all of our problems, and we (as in “me”) anti-neoliberalism say otherwise. Those are two poles of an unsolved worldwide debate. One of several, but a very heated and central one today. And the very concept of “rights” is in the middle of it. But it wasn’t always about neoliberalism. Before it, “rights vs freedom” was in the very core of the cold war, and even before there were just two poles but three: fascism was also an option during WW2, and people discussed the same thing. XX century was a giant struggle about human nature that we’re still dealing with. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights came out of it, but just after two nuclear bombs, and not before. So, the only true certainty we’ve found so far is that any spark can spread a global fire, and so we beter handle politics with care: but other than that we’re kinda left to our instincts.

    There’s a great conceptualization of it all in the videogame Civilization V. There, when you reach modernity, you are forced to choose (sic) one of three ideologies, all of which affect your game. But the ideologies doesn’t have the same name we know for them in the XX century: they’re called “Freedom” (for Capitalism), “Order” (for Socialism/Communism), and “Autocracy” (for Fascism). I’ve found this conceptualization to be amazingly helpful to explain many things on politics history, without having to end on the question of who was right or wrong. And I’ll make a little change to it: instead of “autocracy”, I’ll use the word “autonomy”.

    See, as I’m telling you about our local sensibility to the idea of “freedom”, other cultures have their own sensibilities, and so their different priorities. Today fascism is a bad word, but the idea of having autonomy is not. In the same way, if you say “capitalism” or “communism”, it will most likely trigger somebody: but if you change it for “freedom” or “order”, it reeeeealy make things smoother to talk about.

    As I was telling figosdev in a comment to his article, I believe Free Software Movement is entering the main stage of world politics, as other movements have done before: gender, race, environmentalism, animal rights, etc. And so FSM deals now with this kind of very, very complex issues: they’re, at the same time, historical, political, and philosophical issues, all mixed together. Then add local culture to that and see what happens. That’s where words matters.

    So back to Free Software, the whole systemd debate, for example, calls for an autonomy question, much more than order (as systemd and the distros has their rules of govern and core principles working fine) or freedom (which is the very deal FSF and RMS are failing to address on systemd, given that “is free software, and so is ethical”). Or the old “freedom” issue regarding what can and cannot be done with software: “if I’m forced to share my modified code, how’s that freedom?”; some acceptions of the concept may not be compatible with others, and it has very much to do with your political priorities (market economy over or under social development economy). And ethics is made of those not-so-solid principles.

    And here we get to the point where it all crosses with science. That “truth method” thing… that’s not how society, and thus politics, works. We’re sick (as in disease) with the idea of knowing the very true concept behind what’s going on, and that’s how we turn everything ethical into ideological. “Systemd is an attack on user freedoms!”, we say. Well… maybe. I personally hate the systemd ecosystem. But if asked politically about it, I would answer the same RMS aswered about “left or right”: “it’s a little bit of both”. It depends of how you look at it.

    Going on with this ideological “left or right” metaphor, I also look at systemd with the autonomy and order lenses, not just the freedom one. Thus, I hate it, but also can’t blame FSF or RMS for not bashing it, as they’re freedom people. This is important for the figosdev article. She/He also is a freedom person, but she/he hates systemd, and so she/he makes systemd a freedom afair: that makes her/him clash with the FSF, with the question “who’s really protecting freedom”; which in reality means “what does freedom really means”, and it’s the very thing I question in this article.

    Politics works different from idealized science. The latter is supposed to give you the tools to understand the universe and predict it, with the collateral damage of implying that anybody doing absolutely anything other than what’s in the theory is an ignorant fool or just a bad person (even NON-person). That’s clearly a proven idealization, used in practice to turn scientific discourse into political power. Yet, science (as well as other powers, as the one of the state and the one of the market) had to be put eventually on a leash in XX century, and that leash was called Human Rights. Why then there’s still ideological debates working the same way, as if “the true truth” about people were already there and anybody denying it is an enemy? That’s the ideological dynamics, and also what happens with most of our political discussions. That leads to internal struggle and fracture, which our true enemies (and they DO exist) feast on.

    Other movements, like gender or race, have learned to convive with different strategies (and thus different ethics), making a huge heterogeneous movement with real and transforming power. Today we all have to watch our words before talking publicly about gender or race, and feel the constant shift of our race and gender privileges. Knowing that this is an annoying issue for many, let me clarify: I’m not saying that’s neccesary a good thing, but a REAL thing. That’s real political power, which is something FSM needs in order to operate (much more than money, as figosdev’s “show me results” claim), and so we should take a look at how those movements achieved that.

    But then, there’s Jagadees calling for politics perspective in FSM, paying attention to users rights, but also telling us “we don’t need more regulation”. Careful there: there’s hardly any freedom without regulation. Many freedoms are just contextual stuff you can do because nobody’s watching you do it (like copying and cracking privative software), but that’s hardly a right in itself. A software user is subject of rights over that software (and viceversa) just as there are laws and regulation about it (like the licenses). Rights are not about doing it when nobody’s looking at you, but exactly the opposite: rights play a role when anybody can watch you do it (spacially when the state watches it). And many, many rights, as well as freedoms, may and do conflict with each other, so there’s always political struggle around them (that’s for you, figosdev).

    You Jagadees say “the laws of software freedom are already there”, but you’re wrong about that. First of all, there are many new laws constantly appearing because society changes, and you’re wrong if you think current conceptual tools to handle software freedom are going to be all-terrain and forever. That’s one thing. But also, what you have is principles, and laws are a different thing entirely. Scientific laws are absolute explanations of how reality works, unbreakable no matter what you think about them, and may only change when there are proven exceptions to it. Their role is to be the foundation for present and future techonological development. Society laws are what the states can enforce over people, and thus what people can ask the states to enforce. Their role is to be the foundation for present and future social development. None of that is what software freedom has.

    Yet, it’s close to it. It has the GPL, and other licenses, which operates under the social law. It has the four freedoms, which operates as theorical principles for explaining a possible stable relationship with a whole deal of different social and technical software phenomenons. However, if you take a look at figosdev’s article, you can see all those tools are being debated as insufficient or even outdated, in the face of what changing reality and society has to say about software freedom.

    Also, you Jagadees say “they are not building their own ethical energy companies or ethical drug companies or teaching people how to make drugs: they are politically acting for the system to change; that is the human way to do things”. But you’re missing the point that, preciselly, that very political acting changes society by new regulations, and also they actually DO create their own ethical energy companies and drug companies. Here in Argentina we have laws forcing medics to proscribe the generic drug name (and not some laboratory commercial brand name for a drug), so people can access more economic drugs made by local laboratories without having to learn either medicine or chemistry for that. And I myself studied robotics in a public and free (as in “free beer”) institution where they also teach “alternate energy” as a technical field: both things possible because of our public health and education state policies and laws, wich are the proud result of generations of people fighting for their rights against all kind of powers.

    I believe both of you are missing something. You’re both dealing, in your very own way, with how to deal with people’s rights, which ultimately brings core ethical problems about what it means to be human. You’re no fools in this, as (and I believe I’ve said enough about that) the whole world deals with those questions since no less than 150 years ago. You’re both living the right ideas for the right age. But I believe your relationship with the idea of freedom is constantly getting in the way. I feel this because of my experience with RMS, by which I can tell now he didn’t missed it a whole decade ago: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    You see, Human Rights refer to the very human condition. It is so much like that, that even states or the very Science itself are politically forced to lower their eyes and say “yes sir, sorry sir” under the presence of human rights, or they’re otherwise criminals. Rights are about enforcement. But also, about what it means to be human. If you take a look at the UDoHR, you’ll find there many capitalist things like right to commerce, but also many socialist things like right to having a house or education or healthcare. As RMS said about FMS: “a little bit of both”. Because they were exactly about trying to deal with the human condition with something better than nuclear bombs (and please take note: that’s not an exaggeration). The world was in a mess objectively without precedent. And thus everybody agreed the response had to be political, because anything else is worst.

    Human Rights are constantly violated everywhere. But that’s also true with any other social law. It’s not about being unbreakable, but about what you can reclaim to a legit greater power in case of it being broken. And that’s not what the four freedoms do (but maybe the GPL).

    Jagadees calls for users rights. I’ve already argued there’s not such thing other than the licences. In fact, when the case appears, it’s usually stated as CONSUMMER rights, and not “user”. But Human Rights also cover a huge deal of mixed situations the four freedoms can’t address by themselves. For example, the whole systemd debate, as well as many other situations in the IT field, could be very well analized under the lenses of LABOR rights. Think about the consecuences over our day to day labor basis of those constant programmed obsolescence and forced corporate changes in software: we deal with them by constantly being learning in order to be up to date and keep doing our jobs (which we do because we’re workers and not because we can happily choose any other life whenever we like) by using our non-work-related time that then we don’t use to be with our families or for whatever other reasons. That’s close to a form of slavery, and it’s very much pushed through our throats by force. How many changes were the last decade on web development, even when 15 years old tech keeps working fine but newer tech doesn’t work well on older hardware? That’s not “progress”. How is it that some enterprises can push the idea of dropping x86 support because “is old”, yet we have entire countries (like mine) full of x86 hardware working great? We suddenly have to change our working tools, because somebody else and completely out of any regulation says so. Don’t we IT workers have anything to say in those kind of affairs?

    Of course we do. We actually do speak about it. But the legal, ethical, historical, and social context for justifying our words rarely is the UDoHR. The debates usually goes from ideological points of view such as “innovation” vs “legacy”, “conservatism” vs “vanguard”, defenders of X technical principle/dogma versus Y other (which could be stuff like object oriented vs functional), and technical stuff like that. Last time I’ve tried to debate an unnecesary change in software methodology and tools in my work, when I tried to explain the importance of being conservative in the tech we use, a guy with about 15 years less than me tried to argue about the importance of pure functions. That’s just too much distance between the two discourses. Linus ranted about quality, but he also had strong position on backwards compatibility and encapsulation (“we don’t break userspace”), two positions that could very well be called “conservative”. What would happen with linux kernel without that conservatism in place? What could the 4 freedoms do to protect us from the nasty consequences of such scenario, if such consequences are still GPL valid? What would our peers say about the technical change in favor of something newer? Well… labor rights may very well have a lot so say about such scenarios. But labor rights are very rarely related to software freedom in FSM debates I read of, and I find it symptomatic of ideological perspectives.

    We all know about the question over “what software runs this medical device inside my body”. But the question usually goes over “is it hackable?” or something like that. That’s again some technical (important) detail, that FSM rethoric focus on defending the four freedoms (access to code over security by obscurity) instead of health rights. Also, I don’t want to constantly update my peacemaker: I want it to do what it does fine and that’s it, stop screwing around with it. On health rights terms, it could be forced to be auditable by regulated people, and having strict control over its ways of handling security. The four freedoms doesn’t give you that, and even let the door open for “innovation”.

    The right to repair is another common case: if you use non-gpl software, or IP protected hardware, what good are the four freedoms? We need stronger tools than that. Tools that goes beyond the internal structure of free software, and into society itself: something RMS always had in mind.

    So, there are many examples of how Human Rights deal with software, and I believe this article to be long enough already to be speaking about it anymore. I’d like to close this by another political comparison, that I very much fear is happening right now: I don’t like when I see people using their ethical principles as social or objective truths. That’s what I constantly see doing on politics, both from the left or the right, when dealing with social problems. The constant battle between antagonic ideas or interpretations as if they were any other thing than that (ideas and interpretations) are NOT making anything better anywhere. I call for some focus shifts. First, we have to learn what to do with antagonic discourse. On the other side may be pieces of shit like Microsoft, but also sensible people with legit interpretations of legit concerns (like the whole DRM and Mozilla case, which I’ve always found much less worrisome than their incursion in the Apple ecosystem and haven’t seen as much as outcry for that). But we also have to let go the 4 freedoms and the FSF as if they were any other things than good ideas (but a church). We need to build real political power, and that’s messy: it doesn’t means to sell our souls, but it does means to deny any absolute truth and focus more on the situational friend or foe that doesn’t have to be forever in the same place. And, as reality may very well be showing us from some time to now, that should apply even for our greatest ideas, symbols, and champions. So, for starters, I call for a revision of what we’re talking about when we say “freedom” and “rights”.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz is the runner of TechRights, one of the sites I have linked in my blog and that I recommend to everyone. I have a very high respect for his work. But this doesn’t means that I always agree with him. Last days there was a few posts regarding Codes of Conduct (CoC) being pushed by corporate people on Free Software activities. A few days ago I was asking in a comment for the CoCs itself, which weren’t in the posts. And today Roy posted this: http://techrights.org/2019/06/15/jeremy-sands-and-imposed-coc/

    So, I don’t like what I’m reading there. And I don’t believe this is good for Free Software. Let me explain myself with a response to that post.


    (…)

    How can I possibly guarantee you one third of anything, gender, color, nationality, religion, whatever shallow collectivist thing you’re fixated on when I select the talks blindly based upon merit.

    (…)

    Well… that’s pretty easy to answer: you change the way you select the talks.

    Is that it? That’s the whole deal? No, really… is it? Is it just conservatism and/or inability to recognize other people’s values and force?

    There is a debate about freedom on imposed CoCs. That’s fair. But that’s very different from “HOW AM I GONNA GUARANTEE YOUR FIXATION IN MY EVENT”. That “fixation” or “shallow collectivist” is pretty much what we do when we go anywhere talking about free software. It’s a very important thing to respect, and if we call it “fixation” or “shallow collectivist” then we’re hypocrites. Other people’s values MUST NOT give us a crap, or we’re hypocrites: because we take our values very seriously. We would walk anywhere, anytime, calling for free software based infraestructure in whatever event we may be called on, and then refuse to participate otherwise. That’s exactly what this guy is dealing with here, but with other values. He doesn’t like it, and that’s ok. So? Much more than “the problem of CoCs“, all I see here is “why the hell is this guy running a political event“.

    I say it again: Free Software is a political movement. Free Software conventions are political events. Those have political problems. And political problems have a great deal of conjunctural issues. Today is women, tomorrow will be another. We’ll be always dealing with that kind of issues, because that’s what we do. We’re technical people, ok: but we talk about technical issues in their relation with Human Rights and ethical principles. Which always bring problems with Human Rights and ethical principles. If you don’t like that, then it’s you who’s claiming for a safe place, and hence a CoC. “Don’t be an asshole” is a CoC, one that very much any person who likes to be an asshole will say a lot of crap about.

     (…)

     For me what was insightful was the one time when the rubber really met the road. when it comes to Codes of Conduct. And there are no winners in this story. There are only losers.

     (…)

    There’s this problem with what this guy’s saying: it’s all about money. The problem were the sponsors, and not the people. So, the problem is where the hell do you get the money for such an event. And guess what: the people with the money has conditions. OH MY GOD, THAT’S SHOCKING!

    We all have that problem. That’s why we go to work in the first time, every day, forcibly, in order to not die. And, yes, that’s corporate power. But then again, where does our money coming from is about being a political movement. We’re not on OSI’s side of the problem, but on FSF’s. If this were about “OSI planet”, nobody would care less about corporate influence, because is a declarated corporate environment created for taking distance from the FSF and doing business.

    Yet again, looking at the SELF website I can see this other thing: https://web.archive.org/web/20190427042315/https://southeastlinuxfest.org/?page_id=774

     The SouthEast LinuxFest is a community event for anyone who wants to learn more about Linux and Open Source Software. It is part educational conference and part social gathering. Like Linux itself, it is shared with attendees of all skill levels to communicate tips and ideas, and to benefit all who use Linux and Open Source Software. SELF is the place to learn, to make new friends, to network with new business partners, and most importantly, to have fun!

    See that? “Linux” and “Open Source Software”. “To network with new business partners”. No FSF, no political agenda, just “having fun!”.

    Is no surprise that, later, he says also this:

     (…)

     JS: Shocking. Somebody who claims to care about others really only cares about themselves. Sounds like they would make a great politician. (…) I felt he was duplicitous in the nature of his actions versus his proclaimed beliefs.

     (…)

    So, this person is picky about other people’s hypocrisy, and calls that “political”, but has no problem in dodging the issue of the political background behind the event itself, the political dynamics of the mixed communities involved (FSF vs OSI, in the current context of gender and women issues prime time), and from where does it gets money from, like this all were some kind of “common sense” and not complicated issues. Later on he says “I never thought about that” when dealing with gender and ethnics issues, but clarifying that he also doesn’t recognize other people’s terminology. He plays a victim role here, when he has plenty of agency: he just refuses to acknowledge it. The problem here is not about CoC, but about politization. It’s even later explicily stated in this:

    (…)

     And I would like to say that I hope this is the first, last, and only time that I have to be political in the context of this event and organizing it.

     (…)

    It’s the old “let’s not get political and have fun” pop culture in action, which does so well between technical circles (and not just IT). It’s overloaded, everywhere, with people trying to escape from politics by focusing on technical aspects of stuff. “This is about X, not politics”. That’s hypocrital crap most of the time, but absolutely out of place when you talk about free software. And I find it a serious problem between my peers. Let’s just ignore for a second the corporate world, which on-purpose install this anti-political agenda; as politics is causing a lot of anxiety and anger around the globe, people try to reach the things they love and make them feel most secure as if those things were not also political, as if those things were an anchor to a better an safer place. Is not new. And is a huge mistake in rationale, that corporate world knows how to exploit.

    Which bring us to this:

     (…)

     Here’s my real life code of conduct conclusions. The rules aren’t nearly as important as the people in charge of enforcing them. Bad behavior is already illegal. Serious transgressions should be met with legal responses. Do the people in charge have the wisdom to avoid being judge and or jury and or executioner.

     (…)

    And I agree. With observations, but I agree. I like the feeling of freedom, of not being policed around, and I want to share that feeling. I encourage catharsis, as I find it constructive and even healing; most of the time, that imply saying not-so-polite things. I found freedom of speech absolutely vital in any modern society, and every force against it is usually my enemy. I want people to be able to say what they think without fear of being treated like a monster, whatever the specific case. And I abhor speech police: I would never want to be it, or be imposed on anybody.

    But all that doesn’t mean that the freedom is absolute and there are no consequences for our actions. I also value caring over merit, and that means putting some limits. I value other persons personal limits too, and that has some deep implications. I voluntarily lower the bar of my possible freedoms in virtue of caring for others, wich may be harm by my words. And those are ethical principles, like the ones behind the Free Software movement.

    I believe all free software spaces should be dealt, in terms of CoC, more or less, as the quoted “real life CoC conclusions”. And I believe that, when someone comes and say “change that or you don’t get my money”, the proper answer is “go fuck yourself”. But I also believe this person justify it on the wrong premises. Because all that “statistical” and “non political” “information” he puts there will be nothing the day that, statistically, a bunch of morons create some drama on some convention and then, also statistically, the money suddenly goes away and then, also statistically, you gotta change those rules in favor of some corporate crap. That day, the rules should be the same: freedom of speech. But because it’s a political statement, on ethical basis, and not some statistical bullshit.

    As a closing note, there are lots of situations where we would like to be more free but that may not be a good idea. Please take a look at this example:

    When you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Or this other fine example, although longer, from about 03:55, and specially from 20:40:

    So, CoCs are a problem, alright. But by no means the solution is being “non political”: that’s just barely over alienation, if at all. It’s always about the relation between one and others. And that is very much the definition of political.

Propp

| August 6th, 2017

    Agregando un item más a la lista de proyectos que jamás voy a terminar: quiero hacer un sistema de generación de historias. Ya deben existir un montón de estos; no podría importarme menos, quiero hacer el mío. Básicamente un motor de escritura parametrizable. La idea es implentar diferentes niveles de modelos de la lengua, y articular todo eso con lineamientos de escritura a más alto nivel. ¿Con qué objeto? Trollear a la literatura, no mucho más que eso; me gustaría poner bots a escribir textos a nombre de diferentes usuarios, que cada uno tenga “personalidades” diferentes, y que publiquen historias. En mis fantasías más sádicas, me daría por satisfecho cuando aparezca algún perejil a quejarse de que uno de esos usuarios boteados le está plagiando una historia.

    Decidí llamar a este proyecto Propp, en nombre del legendario lingüista ruso que quiso hacer una morfología de los cuentos de hadas.

    Acorde a la etiqueta de formalización de proyectos, le creo un repo: https://github.com/Canta/Propp

WrapsApp

| August 5th, 2017

Tengo un profundo y plenamente justificado desprecio hacia toda tecnología cuyo único fín es quitarle derechos a las personas. WhatsApp es un claro ejemplo de una de ellas.
Se trata de lisa y llanamente de un email con otra UI; uno envía mensajes, ya sea a un grupo o a una casilla, ya sea texto o multimedia. La diferencia tecnológica fundamental es que el email es descentralizado, cualquiera puede montarlo en cualquier server, se puede resguardar de mil maneras, se puede encriptar como a uno le parezca, es ilimitadamente interoperable, es libre, es standard, es un sistema maduro, y sus logros son legendarios; WhatsApp, por otro lado, sólo te permite interactuar con WhatsApp, está centralizado en los servidores de WhatsApp, trackea a la gente, y es activamente incompatible con cualquier otro servicio de mensajería.

Es una de tantas tecnologías que el mundo parece complotar por instalar como el estado natural de las cosas. Pero es dolorosamente soprendente que gente del gremio IT, que no requiere mucho trabajo para razonar estas cuestiones, insiste en levantarlo como si fuera alguna forma de maravilla innovadora.

Hace un tiempo atrás me topé con un alma hermana, acá: link.
En ese texto, Eugene Wallingford, después de leer a D. Schmüdde y Alexander Rakoczy, nos deja su Occasional Reminder to Use Plain Text Whenever Possible. Hoy siento la necesidad de colaborar con la causa.

Hace años vengo diciendo eso de “email con otra UI”. Hoy me parece un buen momento para plantearlo como proyecto. Así nace “WrapsApp”, que no es más que un wrapper de emails pero que luce exactamente igual a la UI de WhatsApp.

Creo inmediatamente un repo público para poder darle lugar al proyecto: https://github.com/Canta/WrapsApp