Archive for October, 2010

Free Software, Free Hardware and Free Network

If you are reading right now this post is because you have a number of resources that allow you to do it. First, to read an electronic document, you need an appropriate device. Today personal computers are universally known, so much to talk about writing or reading begins to be more related to the electronic option than to traditional paper. In addition, the Internet has become so popular than the personal computer concept is practically linked to a network connection.

But the use of new technologies has a cost, and it may be necessary to clarify why they might arise commercial giants around them. Think of the free software movement, which emerged for more than two decades and whose main objective is to prevent digital colonization associated with proprietary software. When first personal computers began to appear commercially, its use supposed an intellectual challenge, worthy of great scientists. This led to the development of operating systems able to convert to computers in simple use machines. Thus, the first programmers contributed freely to the development of the first operating systems facing as any another scientist challenge whose improvement would suppose a collective benefit. This disinterested intellectual contribution was used by a private initiative, by establishing software licenses, getting a commercial party and sticking out near-monopoly position in the new software market. Then we may assume that the commercial success of this new giant emerged stealing intellectual property of the great scientists through legal strategies.

Over time, its commercial success has made that proprietary software become a component built into the computer. Marketing strategies make that in all business premises any personal computer equipped with a proprietary operating system, apparently free and allegedly having a clearly specified cost. But in reality the cost of the operating system is embedded in the price of computer hardware from any manufacturer. In fact, the price of hardware would be much lower without the marketing strategies. So we should think about how much related are hardware and software and in the Free Hardware concept, closely linked with Free Software.

What is needed to produce hardware? Money, no doubt, but never so much as which affects its price. In any case, the hardware production is automated, so if you think in massive terms would never be too expensive. As for the design stage, it would take more than hundreds of engineers working together, which is no problem if you have an open collaborative environment. Some distributors of free software finance their businesses through the production of additional services. Produce hardware competitive enough to locate a free operating system is a much more profitable. No one can speak of Free Software if there is no Free Hardware.

The third concept necessarily tied to the previous two is the Free Network. In my opinion Telecommunications Infrastructures must be public. For the same reason that in any nation communication platforms are considered as public, should be the same way with the telematic communication platforms, or at least in part. To make progress in this aspect would need to convince many governments in many of the most influential countries in the world, which seems to go against the direction they have decided to take.

I remember another time when mobile telephony was not so widespread, when to communicate with someone far away actually supposed to connect to it and to some extent overcome the barrier of distance made you feel a little freer. Today’s networks are similar to those of a fisherman where the fish are left with no choice but to get caught. In essence, the owners of the new technologies allow us to end up trapped in their commercial networks, paying for communicating to say nothing when we do not want and making telecommunications particularly sophisticated chains from which we can not let go.

If a computer is nothing without the software, nor is it without an Internet connection, but the providers of this service are mainly large multinational which marketing strategies may, or may not, be linked to other large companies.

It seeks to extend the concept of Free Software, to ensure that any person can make an intellectual contribution finding no barrier, that their contribution is legally recognized internationally, that the scientific community doesn’t see their progress slowed due to market speculation, that intellectual effort involves an appropriate financial compensation, extend its application to any field, intellectual or otherwise, that new technologies are a tool of liberation and not the reverse …

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Free Software, Free Hardware and Free Network by Mark Roberts is licensed under a Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 3.0 Unported License.
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