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[gNewSense-users] Re: Freedom and webapps

From: Yavor Doganov
Subject: [gNewSense-users] Re: Freedom and webapps
Date: Fri, 02 Feb 2007 21:56:51 +0200
User-agent: Wanderlust/2.15.5 (Almost Unreal) SEMI/1.14.6 (Maruoka) FLIM/1.14.8 (Shij┼Ź) APEL/10.6 Emacs/22.0.93 (i486-pc-linux-gnu) MULE/5.0 (SAKAKI)

I suggest to continue this discussion off-list in order not to annoy
the rest of the subscribers (this proposal is to everybody
interested, not solely to Peter).

At Wed, 31 Jan 2007 18:56:15 +0100,
Peter Rock wrote:
> > Consider the world in 10 years: we all use free operating systems
> > [...]
> I don't need to wait 10 years. This is the case for me now.

Likewise, but remember: The goal of the Free Software movement is to
liberate everyone.

> > However, the companies that used to develop non-free (web)apps in
> > the past days have become mega-corporations.
> I don't think it is relevant what the status of the copyright/patent
> holder is in this case.

In some sense it is, because mega-corporations control our lives --
they control governments and municipalities in most of the countries.
Their greediness is the major factor that rules our society and that's
been the case for centuries; this tendency is accelerated in the past
few decades.

> > A computer without Internet connection is literally useless.
> A computer without a net connection will always be very useful.

That was a hyperbole to illustrate better this dystopian story
(apparently this attempt was a failure).

> > Any possible job involves access to some remotely hosted
> > "service", you can't even visit a hospital without logging in
> > their web-portal.
> You can't visit a hospital without actually physically going to the
> hospital.

Ditto as above.  In my country, without the necessary paperwork you
would be denied access to the hospital when you go there (and this is
becoming to be computerized).  If you visit your GP, he spends 20
minutes on the computer, 5 minutes with the papers and 2 minutes for
the actual examination. 

> > The information is the most valuable commodity [...] the
> > mechanism/implementation used is a secret [...]
> So?

I think that if I vote for something through a webapp, or if I place a
bet for horse races, or if I order a remittance to my bank, or if I
buy a mips machine from the US through eBay, or merely any operation I
can think of, I have the moral right to know how that system works.

> > The mega-coprorations exchange users' profiles just as they
> > exhanged patent grants in the past.
> You've lost me here.

Sorry about that, my example was not correct.  I was trying to say
that this kind of information will be "traded", "exchanged" in the
most possible dirty manners, mainly between the big fish.

> > A user profile is far more verbose than [...]
> If your point is, "personal information is important", then don't give
> anyone personal information you feel uncomfortable giving. If some
> organization or government forces you to, then that is a different
> issue.

I have lumped together the two issues, which lead to your confusion.
Completely my fault.  If we fail to recognize that there is a software
freedom issue when using webapps, it will inevitably lead to the
establishment of a harsh "Big Brother"-style framework, which in fact
is already in place (just people see it as a "gift", as innocent

> > People are happy that they have software freedom, but... some of them
> > feel that they don't actually control part of their lives.
> I don't see the connection.

There is not even one reason for anybody to hide the source code of
any software, nor to deny you the freedoms that we enjoy for the
software we have currently installed on our machines.  The only reason
I can think of is domination, control and enslavement.  Doesn't this
bother you?

> > Would that scenario be a success or a failure of the Free software
> > movement and the ideals we're fighting for?
> I'm fighting to have the machine that I own not have a single piece of
> proprietary code on it. I now have that, but I do not have all the
> options a proprietary-laden machine has. So, I continue to fight. 

Well, if you see Google as the only "user" of their software, e.g. if
you don't consider yourself as a "user", then I guess there is no
moral dillema for you.

> I am not fighting for anything else in this context.

This explains a lot.  My understanding of freedom goes far beyond the
software freedom (it is only one aspect).

> > Now you may think whether your choice is poor, innocent or whatever.
> I don't think anything at this juncture as using Google's services
> doesn't force me to install proprietary software. Of course, if I woke
> up tomorrow morning and found that I HAD to install proprietary code
> to do a task I wanted to do, then I wouldn't even think of continuing
> to use these services.

The day when this happens, you (well, perhaps not you, but many
others) will be so addicted and so dependent on these services, your
productivity and experience will be so much improved as a consequence
of using them, that you'll ignore the issue.

> > It's a personal question that everyone should ask and answer for
> > him/herself.
> [...] To me, I feel like someone gave me a frisbee to play with and
> it says "Coke" on it. Now, you can tell me all sorts of good reasons
> not to buy/drink coke, but I don't see why I should throw away my
> frisbee. [...]

If you feel like this, there's nothing I can do to persuade you, and I
will stop trying.  ICQ/AIM/MSN, secret protocols, web applications
that are not released as free software -- these are things that I'll
avoid at any cost, as I feel there's no fundamental difference between
them and, say, GNU Emacs.

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