I am drawn more and more towards simply "communal software". It is simple and to the point without needing to bring in a lot of loaded political baggage. Sure capitalists might fund some of it, but I think it would be significantly more difficult for capitalists to co-opt "communal software" than the nebulous "open source" which has had its meaning intentionally diluted and stretched to absurdity.
Of course, capitalists will try to co-opt "communal software" too. But I think it would be much easier to defend a *communal* definition of the term, like any other word or term in ordinary language. If the defense of the principles relies on referring to some Important White Man's proclamation of what the term means, well, who cares? That's easy for a multibillion dollar company's marketing department to trample.
Can ordinary people who haven't read the Great White Mens' definition of "open source" tell the difference between what the Great White Men say it is and what Google and Microsoft say it is? Unless they think the issue is somehow important enough to spend their time researching the issue, I doubt it.
Something the term "communal software" could be used to defend against is Android. I would not call it communal software if it is developed (largely) behind closed doors and public input into development processes and priorities is not considered. A company doing their own thing then dumping a bunch of source code on the Internet without working with other people is not communal.
I'm with you so far, but then what about Free/Libre Culture? Communal Culture?
Also, the one thing I liked about Open Source (and to be sure there wasn't a lot) is that it conveyed the idea of source as the proffered distribution. I wonder if that can be captured somehow?
@emacsen If you emphasize source code, first you have to explain to people who have no idea how computers work what source code is. It's a distraction.
@emacsen I don't know. Call it "cooperative culture" if you want? 🤷 It's related but kinda tangential.
@be "Software of the Commons" to directly invoke the Tragedy of the Commons? Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue though.
@splatt9990 I think "commons software" would be too easy for corporations to co-opt for precisely that reason.
@lightweight @be @splatt9990 Yesterday, I went on a bit of a rant about this same topic (https://social.finkhaeuser.de/@jens/105943742804743427 if you want)
I'm all for "communal software". What I'm more concerned with, though, is how we define that.
Problem is, I *like* the four freedoms, I just don't think they are enough. The "communal" term suggests the right direction.
I struggle a bit to define the necessary other communal aspects in a similarly concise form.
@lightweight @be @splatt9990 I figure the UNIX approach of one tool, one job is closely related to the "toolkits over frameworks" kind of thinking. To me, both enable freedoms because they allow much more varied re-use, being less prescriptive to users.
But it's hard to put them into a license - not that I particularly want to - this would have to be more of a manifesto. And then it's still a fuzzy enough thing that people can interpret it differently.
If I start with the idea that engineering is political, then engineering has to aim for certain goals, in the context of our conversation here communal goals.
I do think that there are more exclusionary engineering practices that have nothing to do with unsound design; one is to subsume a lot of separate concerns into one system.
@jens @lightweight @splatt9990 I generally agree with you that our motivating principles and the real world impact we want to have on actual humans should inform the technical decisions we make. But I don't think any particular techniques of accomplishing those goals should be coupled to a political philosophy. So I think your point works better as an abstract principle rather than a specific prescription of "this is the best way to design software".
I harp on about reusability and toolkits and so forth because it's a good example, and whatever definition one comes up with should encourage that.
Maybe reusability is the key term here. Applicability in a diverse range of use cases. Good words elude me for now!
That's essentially the difference between toolkits and frameworks, which is leading in deciding how something is used: the user (toolkit!), or the software (framework!).
I think this discussion digresses a little bit, though, fun as it is. Communal software sounds good.
@jens @clacke @lightweight @splatt9990 Yeah, I want to integrate @clacke 's list when I revise the essay, but do so from a perspective of presenting a set of guidelines for making the principles practically meaningful, not presenting absolute legalistic criteria handed down from the mountain that is treated as holy commandments which may never be modified to meet future developments.
@clacke @lightweight @splatt9990 @bookwar @be Something like that. It's still a bit fuzzy to me while I think about other things. Entirely in the abstract, maybe we'll need to class items into less dependent dimensions, but find some order to them per class.
But I also don't want to overcomplicate things. It's just that sometimes that kind of structure makes sense.
Here, I really need to let it bubble a while.
@lightweight @be @splatt9990
Still, as important as I think something of the above is, it's still aimed square at some variant of a tech user, and I do not think that the "communal" goal is met until software is inclusive.
That word there subsumes a lot of design decisions, such as having high contrast interface options, good UX, etc. and internationalization that it's a huge thing in its own right.
Tricky to find a balance here that works.
@splatt9990 @be like "Trickle-down economics" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yzeOqV7eKI ) the "Tragedy of the Commons" has been debunked quite thoroughly, for what it's worth... https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/the-tragedy-of-the-tragedy-of-the-commons/
@be I guess I don't get the White Men thing. Is that a racial comment? If so, why does Their race matter? If not, then what's it mean?
@mab It means that it's problematic to treat a few privileged people as the ones who get to decide what words mean.
@be why is everything about race these days? Someone has to decide what words to use and if someone else doesn't like those words, they can lobby to change them. But making it a racial issue when it isn't only furthers any preexisting racial divide or creates one where none existed prior.
@be Hmm yes, the thing libertarians hate and tankies sometimes pretend to like but don't actually...
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