OK, folks, bear with me here. I've had less sleep than usual, and so this is going to be a bit more stream-of-consciousness (or perhaps stream-of-conscience) than my average entry. But I promise you it'll give you some insight into the dark recesses of my brain.
Last time I talked about television and information overload. One of the patterns in my life that really disturbs me is that I tend to use the Internet as a substitute for television, and abuse it in some of the same ways that television gets abused. There's such an incredible wealth of information out here, and I can browse until my eyes are square on any given subject. But in the end, all of that information doesn't make knowledge
, it doesn't mean
anything unless it is turned into tangible action. All of the political blogs I've watched over this past US election season, all of the outrage and passion for democracy that I've seen -- it's no better than television if it doesn't move
me, if I don't decide to get up off my bottom and do
The same is true of the Free Software
-related activities I've been part of for lo these many years. I've been using UNIX-derived systems since 1986, and running my own since I've had hardware powerful enough to do so. My opinion of the notion that I should have to pay someone to lease a program that I can't change, copy, or even examine closely without violating some sort of "End Users' Agreement" is very much like my friend elenabtvs
's reaction to the thought that she should actually pay directly to see a doctor -- it's nothing short of obscene. In her case, it's a matter of "isn't that what we pay our government to provide?" whereas in mine it's much more like "isn't this what programmers and scientists do
-- build on each other's successes, learn from each other's mistakes, and pass the results on to the next generation?"
I have benefitted from the contributions of thousands of writers, programmers, scientists, and hooligan-nerds who came before me -- their work has enabled me to earn a living, to communicate with people far-flung across the earth, to share joy and sadness and exquisite mathematics with a group of friends who care about computers and communication and ethics and love poetry and yes, even the occasional television show.
So what can I do, to carry on this fine tradition of putting words and expression and computer programs in the hands of people who will change them, copy them, and even examine them closely?
On my business card
, there is a motto: making the magical world of computers and software gentler to human beings
. That's my manifesto. Whether by coding, by writing, by giving lectures and seminars and workshops, or by methods I've yet to discover (and perhaps, if I am very lucky, some methods that you suggest to me), that is what I want to do with my life: Use these slabs of silicon and waves of electrons to increase the power of love in the world.
How's that for a pipe dream? Or a life's work?