Software and Community in the Early 21st Century

There are many reasons why people become interested in FLOSS. For some it is the cost of the software, and for others it is the simpler economics of using fixed-cost rather than marginal-cost based business models. When I was introduced to Free Software back in 1992 it was the way in which this community protected the interests the smallest entrepreneur from the largest business predators. I now see FLOSS in a much broader historical and international context.

One of the beauties of this movement is that you can have people with very different (and sometimes conflicting) political philosophies who are able to work together towards common goals. FLOSS is non-partisan, even when each of us might be participating for our own partisan reasons.

The most inspirational speaker on the perspective I share is Eben Moglen. As a law historian and professor he has a grasp on the historical context that our movement has. We are worldwide in the beginnings of something as important as the industrial revolution. The questions we ask in the Free Software movement, and how they are answered, will shape many aspects of our lives in the future. Free Software may not solve world hunger, but I happen to believe that the philosophies behind it are a big part of the solution.

To get a taste of this vision, please watch the inspirational keynote speech Mr. Moglen gave at the Plone conference in October 2006.