Richard Stallman, father of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), has been protecting users’ rights ever since. While I was studying Computer Engineering back in 2000, I have been writing and contributing to the cause of FSF, spreading the word, and promoting free software as the only possible way to improve quality and make it accessible to a large community. I also got the chance to meet Richard Stallman in person, during one of his ramblings in Milano.
I have been looking at him surrounded by a halo of mystery and wisdom, being his figure so unreachable and ideal.
Free as in speech is not free as in beer — how can I forget…
He’s the man from whom I learned that spreading the right word requires you to be radical sometimes because people will understand someday.
We all subscribed to the war against Word documents, against closed and proprietary formats, even against Linux distributions that didn’t respect the pure way to install and distribute code and applications. This is how I got to know Richard. This is how I kept following him for more than a decade (and still).
His words have always driven open source developers towards the same direction, until a law came out of them which goes under the name of Stallman’s Law
While corporations dominate society and write the laws, each advance or change in technology is an opening for them to further restrict or mistreat its users.
That’s right. This happened. This is happening. This will always happen.
Even more so today as technology has changed in a weird yet unpredictable way. We always had the Keplerian vision of technology, with software at the center of the universe, as the one element to keep an eye on, and control.
Focus on software, enforce freedom by making it opensource, and we should be fine — that’s what we thought.
Not anymore. Software is not the center of the universe. Data are.
Hence software can be opensource, it can be free, it can be visible to anybody and still corporations can and will restrict, mistreat and enforce their power over the same users who are free to read their code and do nothing without the new intelligence, the new brain that makes things happen and that we call data.
Stallman’s law is dead. Long life to Stallman’s law.