Boost this if you want to be part of an explicitly anticapitalist technology liberation movement.

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.

Here is a first draft to articulate what a communal software movement could be. Let's continue the discussion on Codeberg:

"Towards A Communal Software Movement" is now online! What do *you* think about it?

I had an interesting conversation about how "communal software" would be best translated into Spanish. I learned that "communal" in Spanish has connotations of helping, somewhat like "charity" or "welfare" in English. My friends suggested "software cooperativo" instead.

FWIW, I asked my friends what they thought "software libre" meant in Spanish. To my surprise, they talked about getting the software for no cost without getting in trouble. So I think that "libre" isn't even a great term in Spanish. IMO emphasizing individual liberties misses the point just as emphasizing practical advantages or zero cost miss the point. The point is people working *together* to meet their own needs.

Who is attracted to discourse about individual liberties? Libertarians, unsurprisingly.

I finally got around to watching all of Revolution OS last night. That made it very clear that pushing the term "open source" really was about emphasizing compatibility with capitalism. Bruce Perens repeatedly talks about venture capitalists' reactions.

Here is Christine Peterson's story of how she came up with the term "open source":

It's very interesting that "cooperatively developed" software was discussed as an option for a new term in that same meeting but "open source" was favored by the group. I am not sure why "cooperatively developed software" was not favored by the group, but Eric Raymond's comment says that "open source" was "perfect for our propaganda needs - ideologically neutral".

That is consistent with what I was saying before. Eric Raymond wanted an "ideologically neutral" term that capitalists would find nonthreatening. "Cooperative software" is not ideologically neutral, which is why I am now advocating its use.


FWIW, Christine Peterson did not invent the term "open source". Caldera was using it in 1996 and possibly a little earlier. I believe that Christine Peterson was not aware of Caldera's use of the term and she likely thought of it independently. Caldera's motivation for using the term seems to be the same as the group discussion that lead to the start of the OSI, namely rebranding "free software" with a term that capitalists could accommodate.


It doesn't matter who invented it. It only matters who made everyone say it.

@be Tim O'Reilly often gets omitted from this open source origin story, but he had a huge part in it. He was the one funding the conferences and the one who gave OSI all of the megaphones to broadcast "open source".

@JordiGH 'O’Reilly’s PR genius lay in having almost everyone confuse the means and the ends of the free software movement. Since licenses were obsolete, the argument went, software developers could pretty much disregard the ends of Stallman’s project (i.e., its focus on user rights and freedoms) as well. Many developers ... stopped thinking about broader moral issues that would have remained central'

@be Yeah. Although i kind of wonder if there isn't some grandiloquent hyperbole here. I don't think everyone really cared about software freedom and stopped when O'Reilly started doing his PR work.

@JordiGH No, but they were overshadowed by the new people, money, and marketing hype of "open source".

@JordiGH Here is Eric Raymond praising Ayn Rand: "Perhaps I would, if Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and Ayn Rand had not already done an entirely competent job (whatever their other failings) of deconstructing `altruism' into unacknowledged kinds of self-interest."

Why have we given this guy's ideas a platform? 🙃

@JordiGH Evidently the term "open source" as applied to software goes back until at least 1990:

@be @JordiGH That graph might be a bit misleading, but I find it interesting that… shows the combination "open source software" (if that's how the search works) definitely occurring before 1998.

@be The phrases existed, in scattered use, inconsistently applied, with dubious meaning and sometimes the phrase appear in what doesn't seem to be about source. Just like if the phrase "red fruit fly" appears it doesn't meant that people are talking about red fruit, sometimes people are talking about "open source code" in some of those instances without meaning "open source".

We wouldn't all be saying "open source" if it weren't for OSI. They're the ones that made us all say it.

@JordiGH Yes, and OSI's ideas have never fully defined the term. Its lack of inherent clarity makes it a perfect capitalist buzzword (buzzphrase?) that is trivially easy to coopt and conflate with unrelated things for marketing purposes. For example, consider GitLab calling itself an "open core company":

They could not do that without the meaninglessness of the "open" buzzword. How absurd would "cooperative core" sound?

@be @JordiGH I don't think Open Source is ill-defined; It's very well defined, but intentionally narrowly scoped.

I agree with you that the choice of terminology reinforces the goals, and that was officially the whole reason behind the Open Source term too.

@clacke @JordiGH My point is that I agree with this blog post.

No person nor organization has the authority to unilaterally define what a term means. That's not to say the OSI's criteria don't have value, but IMO it's absurd to say that people using the term "open source" differently are incorrect. They're not incorrect, they're using a meaning that isn't consistent with the OSI, and that's the OSI's fault for using such a vague term.

@be @clacke And my point is that you're not as free as you think you are. We're saying "open source" because OSI said we should say it.

You're wearing clothes that designers chose for you. There are ramifications that echo through culture because a select few want them to proliferate.

Regardless of how most people use it now, "open source" wasn't our idea. It was OSI's idea to make us say it. They did such a good job at picking a term that sounds so natural, that we think it's our idea.

@JordiGH @clacke Of course, the OSI's intended meaning for "open source" predominates. But that doesn't mean other uses of the term are incorrect.

@be @JordiGH Of course, in a descriptive view of language you can't say any use of a word is incorrect. But you can say it's misleading and confusing to the people you are trying to communicate with, which amounts to the same thing in practice.

@clacke @JordiGH Yes, and it proves and opportunity for malicious actors to be intentionally misleading. There are also plenty of people who simply don't really know what other people mean by the term and use it in a different way.

@be @clacke For example, "open code" could be said to be just as natural of a term. I'm sure if you look for the term "open code" you're going to be finding lots of instances of it.

However, "open code" doesn't appear in news headlines as often. We don't talk about the open code philosophy. We don't talk about open code licences. We don't talk about open code hardware or open code artwork or open code robotics.

We use the phrase "open source" in all those instances. Because of OSI.

@be @clacke @JordiGH People using the term "open source" to mean something different from the OSI definition should be clear that they're using their own definition. Muddying the waters creates space for dubious entities to then come in and start pushing proprietary stuff as "open" because its "open to inspection" or "open as in anyone could buy it", etc. In the old days Microsoft had its "shared source" and other companies would adopt open-washing terminology to try to dress up in the garb of "open" without actually committing to practising it in reality.

@JordiGH @be Yes. The current definition and use originated with them for sure. Just some interesting historical spelunking, not really challenging that influence.
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