Digital Autonomy

A re-imagining / reset of FLOSS.



Elana’s good people. We’ve certainly disagreed on things, but always with respect.

I’ll write to them. I think what really needs reclaiming is the word ‘people’ because a lot of F/LOSS govenance issues are overly sympathetic to the corporation as a ‘legal person’ which then is delightfully extended into ideas that a legal entity like Microsoft Corp. can be ‘discriminated against’ (as if they are a ‘field of endeavor’/‘person’/‘group of people’ with protected characteristics!). This is clearly a very imaginitive use of an already ethically ambiguous legal convention regarding the personhood of corporations. I think a lot of violence can be stopped simply by energetically maintaining the important philosophical distinction between an individual, natural person as an involuntary physical and legal entity and a corporation which is fabricated for the purposes of doing business.

I’ve only read this once, but a few thoughts came to mind.

I think it’s telling that this declaration isn’t really a declaration. It’s a demand. It starts “We demand…”

I’m reminded of one of my favorite Soviet-era jokes:

A tour guide leads a group of schoolchildren through the Moscow zoo. Coming to the elephants, she reads from the plaque nearby: “Here we can see that a single elephant can eat 40 kilograms of break, 50 kilograms of potatoes, 60 kilograms of peanuts … all in one day!”

From the back of the class: “He’ll eat what we can eat. But who will give it to him?”

We all want independence. But the vast majority of us also want higher standards of living, opportunities, social circumstances, art, and so on than we can possibly produce ourselves.

There’s no free lunch. If you don’t pay, someone else does. If software isn’t “monetized”, it’s paid for by creators and distributors from money obtained otherwise.

There’s no free service, either. It’s all well and good to argue for a strong and selfless service mentality, in the creation of software and otherwise. But good service without compensation, outside relationships of responsibility, like parenthood, is servitude or charity, to a first approximation.

I don’t think Molly or Karen supports software servitude. But I don’t think they’d agree that literally everyone should be a proper recipient of charity, either.