Ending the War on Sharing

Richard Stallman spoke on the issue of community and copyright law. After Kate Milberry asked if the practice of software development and sharing he’d been talking about can be applied in the wider world. Stallman replied that his whole talk has been about that very question. Stallman refused to make the links between his issue and larger liberatory movements. He is pushing one issue. There are other issues, but he will leave those to the interested parties.

Some ideas Stallman dropped – Don’t use their terms. Once you take on the terms of the status quo you reproduce dominant meaning. The terms themselves contain meaning that limits our freedoms. We need to develop a language of freedom. The concept of an alternative language.

Fighting the war on sharing. Sharing is anti-capitalist. Sharing is socialist. Sharing removes the price fetish of capitalist imaginary.

Vancouver, BC

(Here’s a liveblog of one of Stallman’s talks in Vancouver: humminbird604)

Another software related presentation: Jim Andrews spoke in the New Media Building. The talk is well blogged here. After hearing Stallman, Andrews was a disappointment. (Here’s my cut and pasted review of the presentation, originally from gmail chat)

me: The presentation wasn’t that interesting, in and of itself, but there were a number of moments when the philosophical deficiencies in the room became the interest.
social foundation of intelligence.

me: the fear of AI
is the fear of an asocial intelligence
the development of a psychopath
Capitalism does a very similar thing, when people say “makes sense”
what they mean sometimes is “it makes financial sense”
which is a bit asocial and as a result psychopathic
me: I asked the guy if the software he was developing was open source
he said it wasn’t for financial reasons
he wanted to be the only one… but if you’d have seen how derivative his software was…
I didn’t push it for fear of confrontation, telling an artist his work is derivative…
them’s fighting words
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2 Responses to “Ending the War on Sharing”

  1. Jim Andrews Says:

    Wow. That’s pretty strong. You say the software is derivative. In what way? Derivative of what?

    Concerning open source, do you think all software projects should be open source? It isn’t always clear how to make any money from open source projects. I need to make some money from this project.

    If we can’t be honest and forthright about these things, Rodger, we can’t get at the truth. It seems to me sometimes art is practice in honesty.

    • rodgerlevesque Says:

      Hey Jim,

      It was pretty strong wasn’t it.

      I should probably keep my gmail chats off the internet. But I do use this blog sort of as a note holder. I didn’t respond immediately because I’m not too interested in hot typed back and forths. I say “not too interested” because I have obviously been in a few back-and-forth type-offs.

      If I remember correctly the software was derivative of many paint and photo tools. The brushes and their attributes, if not derivative, had a very similar look and function to photo and illustration program brushes and tools. Even the movement of the text was reminiscent of the early Microsoft Windows screen saver. But this isn’t getting to the matter I was noting.

      Yes I think all software projects should be open source. And yes I recognize the necessity under our capitalist system to pay for food and shelter, so no I can’t really argue too strongly against intellectual property rights when a coder needs to eat. My issue isn’t really with one person, but with the ideology of capitalism and private property, with instrumentalism/performativity.

      How did the project pan out? What’s a shame is that the software was an interesting media tool, but it was an art tool as well, and I didn’t get the sense it was economically viable. How many projects die in development because they are not money makers? That we need to earn or make money with our work, that we need to tailor our ideas to fit economic necessity, is a condition of our current world, but is it truth? Is it a practice in honest to accept current conditions as truth?

      When we sell our love, I think we make a mistake. I should apologize as well for not generalizing my disappointment with your presentation. I want to see resistance. I want to see people who do what they love and love what they do. I want to see people share their love, give away their ideas, and enjoy the work others do with them. Love itself is radical. Human necessity or economic necessity. I’m disappointed with the world that separates us and pits us against each other.

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