Basis of Free Software and Open Hardware Movement?
It is all about starting to Think Like a Commoner and in-fact becoming a commoner by enriching, strengthening and protecting the Commons. In case of this movement, it is very specific to Digital Commons.
Beyond commons, the movement should also focus on Digital Literacy in order to achieve the following,
- bridge the gap of Digital Divide.
- educate computer, smartphone and Internet users about their Right to Privacy.
- demand for transparent, publicly available glass-box systems and algorithms instead of non-transparent, closed black-box systems and algorithms in governing our municipals, cities, districts, state and nation. Eg: The source code and hardware designs of Electronic Voting Machine can be made transparent and public. Using transparent and participatory systems like DeciDim, etc.,
The above objectives cannot be achieve without commons, therefore commons is the basis of this movement.
What are Commons
No matter how much simple definition I can give, it will not be equivalent of reading and understanding yourself more about Commons from the book Think Like a Commoner from the author David Bollier.
The word and the idea of commons is not new to us. In fact, in Tamil language we have a word called Purambokku Nilam (புறம்போக்கு நிலம்). This word is very specific to land ownership and control. But the idea of commons can be extended to other domains as well. For example, today we have Creative Commons and in general extending the idea of Commons to electronics, software, data, etc., are called Digital Commons.
Example: Wikipedia, GNU/Linux, OpenStreetMap etc. are all part of digital commons.
How to become a Commoner?
- First and foremost, one has to read and understand the idea of Commons.
- Practicing commons by using from the commons and contribute back to it. For example,
- you can use OpenStreetMap & OsmAnd+ and at the same time, also you can contribute by drawing missing roads, correcting wrong street name, add missing street name, draw buildings and actively shape the place in the map where you live.
- you can read from Wikipedia and also can do the same like editing articles or adding new articles, etc., in it.
- you can start using an operating system like Debian, Arch, LinuxMint, Fedora, etc., whenever you find something doesn't work there or some feature is missing, you can report bugs or suggest a new feature. If you are also a programmer, then you can also fix those bugs or contribute by adding new feature.
- If some software or program or any commons related resource is not available in your language or mother tongue, you can very well translate it to your language, thus making those commons more accessible and close to the people.
- It is easy to practice commons for virtual resource like a Software (or) Knowledge (or) Data (or) any electronic information. Because when more number of people share and use, it won't get depleted or reduced in amount. But when it comes to material (or) physical commons they are limited in amount (i.e finite) and treating of such resource like a commons require a set of rules. This set of rules has to be created collaboratively by those people who wanted to use the resource as commons.
Don't be a Technocrat, Please ...
Having Technology that embraces/empathizes society's conditions is always complex. To aid real development in social and scientific sense, producing technology by the masses labour and reusing for the masses; to solve the social and economic injustices that have been pushed down to the oppressed throughout history is really really difficult. One will realize that technology's role in shaping society is not only a hegemonic influencer but also an unremovable essential/vital part of it. Both needs one and another. Technology is the result of labour from & for society after all.
Understanding that technology will solve all known problems is basically foolish (like a silver bullet for all disease), and knowing the right tools, having right skills, understanding, consciousness & critical thinking with political-economy will handles the problem very optimally in the long run - is need of the hour.
For instance, the Internet which is a result of the massive volunteered effort by humans homed information and communication revolution. Such a social emergence cannot be confined to a history locked with a single country or nation, as if they are the sole funders and facilitators for such results. One needs to look at history carefully and closely. One can learn how technocracy even for projected good intentions and forecasts have gone unnoticed. One need to know and understand the socialistic triumph for connecting computers, automating management and re-decentralize economic planning and actions were tried with control systems, computer science, mathematics and economics.
Read : Why Soviet Union did not build a Nation-wide Computer Network. Those who have learned control systems, computing, mathematics, economics, complexity theory, graph theory, modeling, will have some parallel to the cybernetics and connectionism. To Control something is fine after measurement. To command something or someone to keep something bigger in control becomes technocratic. That too measurement must not leave its scope and become mass surveillance as capitalism does now in the name of market competition, survival, branding, better service, etc…
Whether the intentions are pro-scientific or not, technocratic solutions always face the problems such as center point of failure, reduced democracy to extreme colonization, informational slavery, power asymmetry, ignorance, citizens being reduced to subjects and further to objects. Thus a careful and participative deployment of technology with the human-centric design is necessary.
The article is shared to read and learn, and not to bash soviet Union's triumph with false liberal statements and half understood historical view. Infact, one has to understand the history of computer science and mathematics is not centralized to USA alone.
Communication is Aid
Like Water, Air, Food, Environment, Ecosystem, … Communication is also a natural resource that are available to enable human connectivity, and always gets updated whenever human dexterity for better empathy increases through science & technology. It is manifested through languages, and forms a media system with its own characteristics. During disaster (natural or man made), communication systems become a scarce and highly valuable resource to bridge back the lost human connectivity, empathy, rescue, relief, response, etc… i.e, to enable humanatarian tasks and responsibilities. It must be available, affordable and accessible, cutting across all socio-economic differences that exist prior to the disaster/calamity.