Democracy And FLOSS

Sign at a conference on eGovernment:

“Accountability + Transparency = Democracy”

How can you have transparency with non-Free software running the system when you can’t see the code? How can there be accountability with non-Free software when you can’t see the code? These things are about more than source code, but to really start being accountable and transparent, the code has to be trusted by everyone. Only opening the code can do that. Free Software is also about the rights of the user of the software. Non-Free software always restricts what a user can do with his own hardware and how a user uses the software on his hardware and the information therein. FLOSS acknowledges the ownership of the hardware and data. For real democracy, governments and citizens should use Free Software, FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software. Nothing else will do.

For one source of Free Software see the Debian organization. They have many thousands of Free Software packages for just about any purpose of government or citizens.

See Modernizing Public Action through Open Data, Open Government, and Dat….

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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39 Responses to Democracy And FLOSS

  1. That Exploit Guy says:

    Democracy is not some perfect state but a process that needs to be fed and guarded. Just as in Russia, when the old guard of the Communist Party died or weakened, democracy can thrive in China.

    So, by your own admission, FOSS is simply not a determining factor to democracy.

    In other words, FOSS has essentially stuff all to do with democracy.

    By the way, did you know that GPLv2 guaranteed a government agency could take a piece of source code, modify it and use it internally without telling you what had been modified?

    So much for “transparency”.

  2. DrLoser wrote, “could you give us a few pointers as to how this transition is actually going to work?”

    Obviously, having FLOSS everywhere is not going to guarantee democracy but the Chinese government can install FLOSS on their own computers and set standards for manufacture and importation of computers for their own country. Democracy is not some perfect state but a process that needs to be fed and guarded. Just as in Russia, when the old guard of the Communist Party died or weakened, democracy can thrive in China. How the Chinese do that is up to them. I would recommend doing away with parties as a start but they might accept a diversity of parties and admit members of any party into the decision-making path with status at the whim of voters. However democracy grows in China, it will be better using FLOSS, more efficient, more effective, less costly, and available to all, rich/poor/old/young/etc. Having political freedom while “accepting” economic slavery to M$ is far from ideal. M$, in a free system, should have the right to copyright protection, nothing more, as in the EULA, which restricts what people can do with their own property, the hardware.

  3. DrLoser says:

    Anyway, back to the subject of this post.

    For real democracy, governments and citizens should use Free Software, FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software. Nothing else will do.

    Me, I’d claim that FLOSS vs Closed Source is a completely orthogonal issue to the quest for the perfect democracy. Obviously you, Robert, know better.

    After all, you’ve recently praised the efforts of the PRC to replace M$ with Linux. (I don’t suppose it helps your argument much that according to the latest StatCounter numbers, China is still in thrall to M$ to the tune of about 86% … or in other words, the global average.)

    It’s a truly revolutionary proposition, however. Presumably the PRC will transition from being a tyrannical one-party state that executes people in their thousands to a fully-fledged perfect democracy just as soon as they replace every last M$ box with Linux.

    A vision of perfection much to be hoped for.

    But, for the rest of us uninformed types out here … could you give us a few pointers as to how this transition is actually going to work? Because we are too focussed on things like civil liberties and the rule of law and other nonsensical democratic desiderata to focus on what is obviously the Main Story here.

  4. DrLoser says:

    No answer to this worrying issue of a “one week delay” attributable to Mueller, Robert?

    No answer to my polite request to specify the 2+ year delay period involved for “study?”

    That’s a bit of a lost opportunity to prove yourself right, isn’t it?

    Facts not in evidence. Mueller has stated publicly that he was a consultant for M$. Prove he wasn’t at the time he agitated against Limux. Failing that, prove he didn’t do that to impress M$ as to his “value”.

    I think you’re only half-way to the bottom of this particular conspiracy, Robert.

    My working assumption is that bothMueller and Christian Ude were in the pockets of M$ from the very start. This makes perfect sense when you think about it. What better way to discredit Freedom than by (a) hiring a Consultant (despicable sort of a chap! Wouldn’t belong to any club I know of!) and (b) suborning a Politician (despicable sort of a chap! Wouldn’t belong to any club I know of!)?

    Why, if M$ hadn’t secretively bunged Ude a few million or so, there’s no way he would have presided over a botched ten year migration like Munich, is there? Six months, a year at the most. Clearly there was bribery involved.

    And what better way for M$ to spread false rumours that anybody else embarking on a Migration To Freedom will fail, hopelessly, after an almost interminable struggle?

    No, paying off Da Mayor was obviously the way to go.

    It’s rather sad that I can come up with a more convincing conspiracy theory than you can, Robert, isn’t it? But, tell you what.

    I will come up with convincing proof that Mueller was not in any way employed by M$ in 2004 as soon as you come up with convincing proof that Ude was not in any way employed by M$ in 2004. A pretty fair offer, I would think.

    Oh, and that “one week” delay?

    Mueller helped the Green Party draft the questions, which were then put to the mayor of Munich at the end of July.

    Could it just be that Mueller was, at the time, a paid consultant of the German Green Party? A political grouping that is nothing but hostile to Microsoft?

    And that the one-week stunt in question was to do with The Legalisation of Software Patents?

    Why, yes it could. Oh, the irony — one bit of FLOSS fighting against another bit of FLOSS.

    Not that that would ever happen.

    Tell me, Robert, what do you do when your cherished conspiracy theory du jour lies in a pile of tattered shreds, almost every last one of which is of your own making?

    I’d blame Christian Ude if I were you.

  5. DrLoser wrote, ” Mueller was not a M$ “consultant” at the time.”

    Facts not in evidence. Mueller has stated publicly that he was a consultant for M$. Prove he wasn’t at the time he agitated against Limux. Failing that, prove he didn’t do that to impress M$ as to his “value”. Also, consider why folks at M$, riddled with software patents, would want to hire a guy who is a FLOSSie. Publicly, Mueller opposed software patents but suddenly was telling the world that Linux violated a bunch of patents. How convenient.

  6. DrLoser says:

    You’d be hopeless in a courtroom, wouldn’t you, Robert?

    “Your Honour: despite the fact that the thousand pages of depositions that I have previously provided in support of my client’s case actually prove the complete opposite, and even though the jury has unanimously convicted my client of High Treason and Diddling With Baby Salamanders, I wish to present one more completely irrelevant piece of evidence. This one is boffo, seriously!”

    If one expects to have any credence whatsoever in a logical argument, one brings out the big guns first. Preferably, cites that actually go towards proving your point … not, in general, those that completely refute it.

    Don’t you get it? M$ will do anything to stop competition, including using a “consultant” to abuse the political process.

    The subordinate clause in this proposition is clearly a misrepresentation of the facts. Mueller was not a M$ “consultant” at the time.

    The main clause is so feeble as to be practically worthless. Some bozo in HP foams at the mouth, and you take this for verifiable proof of your fantasies? Please stop doing that. It merely makes you look credulous.

    Microsoft could attack open-source software for patent infringements against (computer makers), Linux distributors, and, least likely, open-source developers.

    The operative word here is could. Not did, or any other concrete and non-modal expression.

    And you’re still weaselling away from the “one week” delay, aren’t you? It must hurt badly when you are proven wrong by your own cite.

    But there’s probably a lifeline here somewhere. You claim that there was a delay of “years” for “study.” For the current purposes of argument, I’m not even going to argue against Microsoft being 100% responsible for those lost years.

    Permit me to assume, however, that you refer to a period of no less than 24 months.

    Would you care to specify which 24 months those were?

    2004-2005?
    2005-2006?

    2012-2013?

    (You get the general idea, I hope.)

  7. DrLoser wrote, ” This is what ZDNet published:
    Summary: A high-profile delay to Munich’s Linux migration in 2004 was actually caused by those campaigning against software patents, rather than the shadowy hand of Microsoft, according to one insider.”

    That’s what M$ might want us to think but this is what HP, one of M$’s “partners” wrote, “Microsoft is going to use the legal system to shut down open-source software,” said Gary Campbell, then vice president of strategic architecture in HP’s office of the chief technology officer, in a memo to several HP executives. “Microsoft could attack open-source software for patent infringements against (computer makers), Linux distributors, and, least likely, open-source developers.””

    Don’t you get it? M$ will do anything to stop competition, including using a “consultant” to abuse the political process.

    DrLoser wrote, “It’s bad enough that Robert doesn’t even bother to read his own links.”

    I do read them all and more. The snippet you quote is about the politics going off the rails to block FLOSS, but you completely miss the connection that it was M$ that started all the patent-infringing nonsense against GNU/Linux: the cancer stuff, SCOG v World, and so on. That was not designed to “protect M$’s intellectual property” but to thwart competition by preventing any competitive initiative from getting “legs”.

    “Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition against one of Microsoft’s core products. Microsoft’s past success in hurting such companies and stifling innovation deters investment in technologies and businesses that exhibit the potential to threaten Microsoft. The ultimate result is that some innovations that would truly benefit consumers never occur for the sole reason that they do not coincide with Microsoft’s self-interest. “ – Findings of Fact US DOJ v M$

  8. DrLoser says:

    You seem to have (deliberately, I’m sure) missed the links that Robert provided in his post.

    It’s bad enough that Robert doesn’t even bother to read his own links. Do you have to compound this dismal tradition, luvr, by failing to read them too?

    I was almost drawn in to this dramatic little bit of conspiracy theory … and then I read the link. This is what ZDNet published:

    Summary: A high-profile delay to Munich’s Linux migration in 2004 was actually caused by those campaigning against software patents, rather than the shadowy hand of Microsoft, according to one insider.

    And this is what Robert originally claimed:

    M$ generated a political firestorm which delayed the project by years for “study.”

    I would tentatively make the claim that there is a bleeding obvious huge great 800lb gorilla of a discrepancy in the room here.

    And just to reinforce the point that the Elect amongst this site clearly have no interest in reading their own cites, whereas the Trolls can actually manage to get to the bottom of the page:

    Just over a week after Mueller’s publicity stunt, the City of Munich resumed its migration to Linux.

    So, even given the existence of a Massive Evil Conspiracy, the darned thing was about as much use as going up against Cassius Clay armed only with a wet noodle, wasn’t it?

  9. luvr says:

    “pure conjecture that has obviously been pulled out someone’s butt”

    You seem to have (deliberately, I’m sure) missed the links that Robert provided in his post. Guess there must be more butts from which that “pure conjecture” is being pulled, then…

    Over and out.

  10. TEG wrote, “He was also a reptilian shape-shifter.”

    That’s a pretty good description of Florian Mueller.

  11. That Exploit Guy says:

    If that’s all that you can think of to refute what Robert said

    What is there to refute in a pure conjecture that has obviously been pulled out someone’s butt?

  12. luvr says:

    That Exploit Guy wrote: “Yes. He was also a reptilian shape-shifter.”

    If that’s all that you can think of to refute what Robert said, then all you are doing is admitting defeat. You have just proven that you have lost the argument. Even so, something tells me that that won’t stop you (or your “partners” :-)) from keeping on digging. You really have nothing better to do, do you?

  13. That Exploit Guy says:

    I don’t know when he started working for M$ but I would not be surprised that it was before the ~2004 delay of Limux.

    Yes. He was also a reptilian shape-shifter.

    A conspiracy theory simply cannot be complete without reptoid aliens.

  14. DrLoser wrote, “M$ generated a political firestorm which delayed the project by years for “study”
    No Microsoft did not, Robert. What an unmitigated heap of unsubstantiated garbage.”

    “Mueller, along with a few others, came up with the idea of the Green Party drafting written questions to the mayor of Munich, to ask about software patents and their impact on the Munich’s Linux migration project, known as LiMux.
    Mueller helped the Green Party draft the questions, which were then put to the mayor of Munich at the end of July. A few days later, Mueller was made aware of an email sent to the LiMux project mailing list by Wilhelm Hoegner, the head of the data processing office at the City of Munich. This email said that due to the questions tabled by the Green party the project has been put on ice.”

    See Munich Linux migration delayed by ‘PR stunt’

    That happened in 2004.

    Mueller announced ~2011/2012 that he worked for M$“I proactively announced a broadly focused consulting relationship with Oracle, six months after announcing a similar working relationship with Microsoft”.

    He reported that he worked for M$ in October, 2011.

    I don’t know when he started working for M$ but I would not be surprised that it was before the ~2004 delay of Limux.
    “Our mission is to establish Microsoft’s platforms as the de facto standards throughout the computer industry…. Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.”

    See How to Get Your Platform Accepted as a Standard – Microsoft Style

    That sure sounds like Mueller and that was written back before 2000.

    See also, Munich halts biggest-ever Linux migration

    See HP memo: Microsoft planned open-source patent fight: “Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday sought to distance itself from a June 2002 memo in which an HP executive said Microsoft planned to use patents as the basis for a legal attack on open-source software. “

    Oh, yes, one more thing… In 2006, Ballmer told the world that Linux violated a bunch of M$’s patents. Munich listened to that nonsense.

  15. DrLoser says:

    M$ generated a political firestorm which delayed the project by years for “study”

    No Microsoft did not, Robert. What an unmitigated heap of unsubstantiated garbage.

    Once again, try harder, please.

  16. DrLoser says:

    I agree that it is absurd that M$ has gotten away with threatening governments for far too long…

    No answer to TEG, I see.

    Me, I’m going for Twelve Foot Lizards (cf the ongoing and entirely credible discussion about conspiracies). I mean, that’s the obvious one to pick, what with both Queen Elizabeth and Ronald Reagan being Twelve Foot Lizards from Outer Space.

    But, just to hedge my bets … a marauding band of flying monkeys sound good too, TEG!

    The Supreme Court should really get around to doing something about flying monkeys. Sadly, certain sites limit their freedom by a strict and rigorous adherence to the principle of disallowing ad simian attacks.

  17. That Exploit Guy says:

    Let’s critique Bob Pogson’s latest cerebral flatulence in all its glorious details, shall we?

    I agree that it is absurd that M$ has gotten away with threatening governments for far too long

    With what? Nuclear warheads? A gigantic space laser? A marauding band of flying monkeys?

    What you are suggesting is Bond villain stuff: something along the line of Bill Gates threatening to blow up the world if the United Nations don’t pay him a million dollars.

    Or is it just a load of empty hyperboles aimed to shock and to mislead?

    Munich: software patents and GNU/Linux costing too much – M$ generated a political firestorm which delayed the project by years for “study”

    So it’s Microsoft’s fault that Linux was a turd and that the city mismanaged its schedule and budget?

    Denmark: software patents and OOXML

    I don’t know about that. It does seem, though that threatening people with “death by OOXML” won’t get you too far.

    Or am I missing something here? Something along the line of a bunch of Unix monkeys screaming Microsoft is the antichrist or some such nonsense?

    Korea: anti-competition investigation into M$ resulted in M$ threatening to stop doing business in Korea

    So you believe people should be forced to do business in a country whether they want to or not?

    Besides, don’t you want Microsoft to go out of business? Or have you not realised that fulfilling your biggest fantasy would involve people losing their jobs?

    Brazil: M$ accused FLOSSies of being in league with terrorists and undermining capitalism

    In other news, a FOSS zealot likens Microsoft to drug dealers. Other FOSS zealots cheer.

    World: M$ paid SCOG $millions to fund a campaign of terror against users of */Linux claiming copyright and patent-violations. With such funding, SCOG lasted nearly a decade suing several businesses and tying up the courts. Putting a huge tax on every server and PC running GNU/Linux would have dirupted the economies of many countries.

    On one hand, you want people to see legitimacy in DoJ v. Microsoft. On the other hand, you want people to ignore the courts and listen to you on whether SCO should have had their cases heard.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    M$’s products also sponsored waves of malware which affected government computers. Some governments actually disconnected from the Internet to save themselves.

    By the same token, governments should stop their employees from using Android phones, shouldn’t they?

  18. DrLoser wrote, “this absurdity”.

    I agree that it is absurd that M$ has gotten away with threatening governments for far too long:

    • Munich: software patents and GNU/Linux costing too much – M$ generated a political firestorm which delayed the project by years for “study”
    • Denmark: software patents and OOXML
    • Korea: anti-competition investigation into M$ resulted in M$ threatening to stop doing business in Korea
    • Brazil: M$ accused FLOSSies of being in league with terrorists and undermining capitalism
    • World: M$ paid SCOG $millions to fund a campaign of terror against users of */Linux claiming copyright and patent-violations. With such funding, SCOG lasted nearly a decade suing several businesses and tying up the courts. Putting a huge tax on every server and PC running GNU/Linux would have dirupted the economies of many countries.
    • M$’s products also sponsored waves of malware which affected government computers. Some governments actually disconnected from the Internet to save themselves.
  19. DrLoser says:

    Still waiting for the utterly rational and unquestionably non-bigoted justification behind this absurdity, btw:

    M$ has gone far beyond promoting its products in dealing with governments, threatening them with severe economic consequences, for instance.

    Oh, do tell us, Uncle Robert. Which particular government do you have locked up in that rational and completely unbigoted mind of yours?

  20. DrLoser says:

    “Any” being “absolutely none whatsoever,” of course.

    Ho ho ho.

  21. DrLoser says:

    Gross.

    Did I say that they tasted of ambrosia? I think not.

    Let’s try once more. Can anybody out there refute my proposition that roughly 90% of everyday Windows proprietary commercial blah blah baby-killing blah blah blah blah applications …

    … have any possible back-door security threats built in whatsoever?

    I mean, you all are smart folk, right?

    Riiiiiight.

  22. Joe.M says:


    Just a tad paranoid? Here’s a list off the top of my head:

    * Word
    * Excel
    * PowerPoint
    * Notepad
    * Microsoft Calculator

    Gross.

  23. DrLoser says:

    I’ll second that! Secret proprietary code almost always contains spyware.

    Just a tad paranoid? Here’s a list off the top of my head:

    * Word
    * Excel
    * PowerPoint
    * Notepad
    * Microsoft Calculator
    * SnagIt
    * TeamViewer
    * Perforce
    * BeyondCompare

    etc etc etc. These are just the ones I use every day (actually I don’t use PowerPoint at all, but whatever). Not a single one of them can credibly be accused of containing spyware.

    Care to redefine your terms? OK, I’ll take a guess.

    “There’s no threat from 90% of commercial programs, but you should beware of the other 10% — browsers, comms-based apps, and so on. FLOSS is the only sensible way to go with this sort of application.”

    Which would mean that we exchange a theoretical tin-foil hat and swarm of black helicopters for the sadly too concrete reality of the likes of Heartbleed and Shellshock.

    Thanks … but no thanks.

  24. ram says:

    Joe M. said: “Governments should either use FLOSS or domestically-produced proprietary software, and in the case of domestically-produced software they should have a right to inspect the source code.”

    I’ll second that! Secret proprietary code almost always contains spyware. I’ve seen “defense contractors” put some rather amazing “Easter Eggs” and “gifts” in their software supplied to various governments.

  25. DrLoser says:

    Well, it seems to be relevant to this thread.

    M$ has gone far beyond promoting its products in dealing with governments, threatening them with severe economic consequences, for instance.

    Don’t leave us in suspense. I, personally, am fascinated.

  26. DrLoser wrote, “It might be “a great tool for transparency” or “a great tool for accountability,”* but it isn’t necessary for “democracy” as such.”

    Not so, at all. How can the people be in control of a government in which the IT is controlled by M$? M$ has gone far beyond promoting its products in dealing with governments, threatening them with severe economic consequences, for instance.

  27. DrLoser says:

    It’s right there, although they didn’t use the identical word but “representative” and “periodically renewed” means accountability …

    Not at all so, Robert. “Representative” could mean practically anything at all, but the one thing it doesn’t directly mean is “accountable.” It might well be a good step towards accountability (although Edmund Burke would disagree with you), but in the context of a democratic system it simply means that (theoretically) every citizen has an equal chance of becoming a “representative.”

    You could achieve that just as easily by holding a random ballot every five years. Indeed, that’s actually how Athenian democracy worked, if memory serves.

    And as for “periodically renewed?” Vladimir Putin has been “periodically renewed” quite successfully; and nobody would argue that he doesn’t have significant popular support. But equally, nobody would claim that he is “accountable” in any real sense.

    Don’t like the Putin analogy? Try Napoleon III and plebiscites. (Or anybody and plebiscites.) Tremendously popular. I don’t think he ever held a plebiscite in which more than 10% of the French voters, in a free election yet, voted against him.

    But only a fool would argue that Napoleon III was accountable .,.. except possibly to shady backers like the Ultramontane Catholics.

    … and transparency is implied by “supreme power is retained by the people, but is indirectly exercised”.

    Once again, not so, Robert. You infer this relationship. It is very obviously not implied, causally or otherwise.

    I’m going to take the no doubt acceptable example of Churchill here.

    Clearly, Churchill exercised power with the indirect consent of the people. Clearly the people “retained” the ultimate power, otherwise it is impossible to explain how Churchill got voted out of office at the end of World War Two.

    But if you truly believe that Churchill’s government was a model of transparency, then you are a few bananas short of a Carmen Miranda hat.

  28. DrLoser says:

    If TEG was twisting your words, Robert, he was doing a remarkably good job of twisting them into what you apparently think.

    FLOSS is a necessary but not sufficient condition to promote democracy.

    It isn’t necessary at all, is it?

    It might be “a great tool for transparency” or “a great tool for accountability,”* but it isn’t necessary for “democracy” as such. Not even if “transparency [sc. 100%] and accountability [sc. 100%]” are necessary for “democracy.”

    I need hardly point out that this is the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle.

    But, enough of theoretical arguments. How many of the 220-odd countries in the world are “democracies?” I would argue, about eighty. Not a single one of those democracies are in any way at all critically dependent on FLOSS, not even for 0.01% of their operations.

    Your argument would therefore boil down, Robert, to an assertion that there are no “democracies” in the world.

    It’s one thing to claim that “All democracies should use FLOSS.” Even “use FLOSS for 100% of IT needs.”

    It’s another, and I would suggest rather jejune and circular, thing to claim that a country is not a democracy if it doesn’t use FLOSS, which seems to be the logical conclusion of your particularly twisted argument.

    * These are ludicrous propositions, but since they seem to be a Pogson tenet here, I’m running with them.

  29. Joe.M says:

    Governments should either use FLOSS or domestically-produced proprietary software, and in the case of domestically-produced software they should have a right to inspect the source code.

  30. TEG, misreading text again, wrote, “Then according to you, China must be the democratic capital of the world.”

    Nope. FLOSS is a necessary but not sufficient condition to promote democracy. Folks misuse technology all the time. Governments do the same no matter what software they run, but at least some are trying. China so far has been all talk and little action. They adopt all kinds of useful technology but don’t seem convinced that FLOSS is the right way to do IT yet. The moves with “8” and such are a bit of a mixed message when “7” and XP are rampant.

  31. That Exploit Guy says:

    How can you have transparency with non-Free software running the system when you can’t see the code?

    Then according to you, China must be the democratic capital of the world.

    Those regular o’ folks getting shot in Tiananmen Square really just died for nothing, didn’t they?

  32. DrLoser, failing to understand democracy, wrote, “I don’t see anything about “accountability” and “transparency” there. Both appear to be completely orthogonal concepts.”

    It’s right there, although they didn’t use the identical word but “representative” and “periodically renewed” means accountability and transparency is implied by “supreme power is retained by the people, but is indirectly exercised”.

    In the present case much of Europe has accepted that eGovernment is the way to go. Instead of citizens needing to queue up somewhere just to be stonewalled, almost all governmental information is being made available to people on-line. Most citizens use that to find out about government services or rules that apply to them. Journalists may check the maths, etc. Some businesses are springing up to sell services or condensed versions of data to folks in a hurry. This is much more transparent than politicians giving photo-ops and speeches. The electorate has a chance to see what government actually does and how it affects them locally. With greater transparency the electorate will be able to vote with much more information than campaign promises, ensuring responsibility/accountability.

    In the context of this blog, it is interesting that one of the things citizens are demanding and getting in Europe is an accounting for the software used by government. It’s no longer a case that no one was ever fired for buying M$’s stuff. Citizens care and politicians know it. That’s why FLOSS is a political issue in Germany, France, Netherlands and Spain. Politicians want to be seen to be doing more with less and getting value for money. With non-Free software the cost of everything was about double and doing more got noticed. With FLOSS, governments can do more for a much more reasonable increment in costs. That’s really clear in schools going from 10:1 to nearly 1:1 student:PC ratios. In governments, with information freely available, citizens can see bills for hundreds of $millions just going to enrich a foreign corporation when the local economy suffers. That’s made the headlines in Germany, France and Spain. Word is spreading.

  33. olderman wrote of some software, ” As a member of a democracy that respects intellectual property I have two choices, pay my money purchase my key and use the software, or not pay for the software and forego its use. THose are my rights in a democracy – I do not have any rights beyond those granted by the software creator.”

    You do have the right to make your own music. Many people do that and the owner of any software should have no power to force you to use their software. I realize your music is special in that many instruments are involved so it may be much less costly to acquire samples of those instruments rather than buy that many instruments and learn to play them. If you want to do that and you can afford it, why not? It’s just like FLOSS. I want to do IT that way and I can afford it, so, why not?

  34. dougman says:

    The Internet gave us an opportunity to topple the storytellers who had dominated our political, economic, societal and religions in one feel swoop.

    Open source could be be applied to governments as well, but that is a long way off.

    http://www.rushkoff.com/open-source-democracy/

  35. DrLoser says:

    Just anecdotal, I know.

    But, if there’s one thing worse than a Policy Wonk, it’s a Completely Ignorant Policy Wonk Without Even An HSE.

  36. DrLoser says:

    Very interesting, Dougie.

    Now, be so kind as to explain to us how FOSS is the magic pixie dust that will free us from the encumbrances so eloquently set forth by Gilens, Martin and Benjamin.

  37. dougman says:

    America, as originally founded, is a Republic in name only and now it is an Oligarchy, but referred to as by general consensus as a Democracy.

    Gilens, Martin and Benjamin I. Page. 2014. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.”

    “Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.”

    http://scholar.princeton.edu/mgilens/home

  38. olderman says:

    “Nothing else will do.”

    Nope. Computers exist to get work done, not make political statements. My ability to compose music with my computer is not served by this bullshit.

    What will serve is software that can get the job done. If that software is free, so much the better, but if it is only available at a cost, then that is both fine and it is very much a part of democracy to produce it

    I present another site for your perusal Robert Pogson

    http://www.vsl.co.at/en/65/71/84/1349.vsl

    The Vienna Symphonic Library is one of the top Sound Sample Libraries in use the world over. It is not cheap and it is only sold with a USB key lock to protect the vendors investment in their property. As a member of a democracy that respects intellectual property I have two choices, pay my money purchase my key and use the software, or not pay for the software and forego its use. THose are my rights in a democracy – I do not have any rights beyond those granted by the software creator.

    What say you Robert Pogson?

  39. DrLoser says:

    Accountability + Transparency = Democracy

    Trusty old Webster’s, 1913, has this to say about the subject:

    De*moc”ra*cy (?), n.; pl. Democracies (#). [F. démocratie, fr. Gr. dhmokrati`a; dh^mos the people + kratei^n to be strong, to rule, kra`tos strength.]

    1. Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained and directly exercised by the people.

    2. Government by popular representation; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but is indirectly exercised through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed; a constitutional representative government; a republic.

    Nope, I don’t see anything about “accountability” and “transparency” there. Both appear to be completely orthogonal concepts.

    Although I have to say that “indirectly exercised through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed” makes Microsoft sound extremely democratic. Every three to five years (just like an electoral cycle), everybody over the age of 18 … wait, this is a Property Qualification form of Democracy, let’s say everybody with a wallet-book containing 300 smackeroos … gets to go out and choose the operating system they are willing to live with for the next three to five years.

    Seventy million people voted for President Obama in 2008. That’s the largest number ever to vote for a Prez … out of a population of some 300 million.

    Now, 23% is obviously a huge number compared to Linux desktop take-up, but it’s pretty feeble compared to the 80% or so that Windows has regularly managed for the last twenty plus years.

    Oh, but that “accountability” and “transparency?” Those are indeed desirable and necessary (though not sufficient) elements of a democracy. Let’s see how they translate to the world of FOSS, shall we?

    Just to pick the obvious bug: do you know who was responsible for the Heartbleed fiasco? No? Then there isn’t any “accountability,” is there?

    Do you know how the bash shell parser went wrong? No? Then there isn’t any “transparency” either, is there?

    Is John Doe sure that an equivalent to Heartbleed won’t turn up tomorrow or next week?

    That’s the beauty of “democracy” as applied to personal choice in software. (I think this is a cretinous idea, but your cite brought it up, so I’m running with it.)

    John Doe doesn’t, does he?

    No soup for Linux!

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