I have long touted the four freedoms of Free Software as the best way to do IT and being good for the economy, enabling everyone to participate. Eben Moglen, guru of Software Freedom Law Center, gave a speech along the same lines but much more eloquently, tying together Software Freedom, political freedom, the economy and innovation. His thesis is that stifling access to code and hardware through various means of lock-down/in stifles innovation. I have seen that up close and personally in schools where a school that could do little more than browse and write/print documents became empowered to actually put the LAN to work connecting all the PCs in the school into one big super-computer for creating, storing, modifying and presenting information. The difference, with the same level of expenditure is mind-boggling. Visitors to schools I have set up this way are amazed at what PCs running Free Software can do.
Check out a snippet
“All of that innovation comes from the simple process of letting the kids play and getting out of the way. Which, as you are aware, we are working as hard as we can to prevent, now, completely. Increasingly, around the world, the actual computing artifacts of daily life for individual human beings are being locked so you can’t hack them. The individual computing laboratory in every 12-year-old’s pocket is being locked down. If you prevent people from hacking on what they own themselves, you will destroy the engine of innovation from which everybody is profiting. The goal of the network operators is to attach every young human being to a proprietary network platform with closed terminal equipment that she can’t learn from, can’t study, can’t understand, can’t whet her teeth on, can’t do anything with except send text messages that cost a million times more than they ought to.” or, better yet, experience the presentation for yourself: Innovation Under Austerity: Eben Moglen's call to arms from the Freedom to Connect conference – Boing Boing.