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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Open source does not mean that more software is better software

A generation ago, Microsoft founder Bill Gates put forward his own theory on how to create good and useful software, write A stern letter To the “hobbyists” who shared his company’s BASIC software, said: “Who can do professional work in vain? Which hobbyist can devote three years to programming, find all errors, record his products and distribute them for free? In fact, no one other than us has invested a lot of money in hobby software.”

Today there is a kind of hybrid system in which Google, Facebook and other tech giants are important contributors to the free software Linux project, which is still vital to their business. In fact, 75% of the contribution to Linux comes from programmers working for the company. This system makes these companies very wealthy, and their position is quite advantageous. They are not afraid of a small start-up company using Linux to replace them—just as they once overthrew Microsoft. Even Microsoft has revised its views. The company’s president Brad Smith said last year, “When open source broke out at the beginning of this century, Microsoft was on the wrong side of history. I can say this personally. The good news is that if life is long enough, you can learn… you need Change.”

However, this form of success has brought a fundamental change: a project that was once designed to help small players is now supporting the big players among them. This is an identity change that the community has not yet fully considered. This is because everything is going well as far as the software itself is concerned. But apart from coding issues, free software has always been inert. Free software has not improved things at all on important issues such as how to make social networks safer for women or minorities, more conducive to productive debate, or more likely to disseminate accurate information—on the contrary, it has become a push People, just like Mastodon did, the society of truth.

In this sense, free software has added a series of “free” things-including markets and speech-aimed at solving problems by opening the floodgates. With enough eyes, all mistakes are superficial, the thinking is like this, and the answer to bad speech is more speech. A society that puts freedom above equality will gain the height of both. In fact, these ideals of freedom only perform well under their own conditions, that is, generate more wealth or speech or software.

When Rochko first discovered that Gab was using Mastodon in 2019, it caused a lot of introspection. He did his best to isolate Gab from other networks running the software. A user of the social network mastodon.social operated by the Mastodon project, need more, Said, “Want to know how feasible it is to have a license that explicitly prohibits its use for hatred.” Rochko’s response lack. He said that on a practical level, he failed to get the consent of 600 contributors at the time, so he needed everyone’s approval to change the license, but he also hoped that the free software system would be protected-“If someone violates AGPLv3, there are multiple Mature institutions are willing to defend it, and custom licenses cannot benefit from it.”

If the license does not have the effect you want—that is, to prevent Donald Trump from using it to incite hatred and oppose democracy, what is the point of enforcing the license? We really don’t have the luxury of treating software as a kind of academic exercise, away from the consequences of real life. Code in one corner, hatred in the other corner. If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that the two cannot be separated.

Gab’s use of mastodons raised the previous question, which deserves reconsideration: Why not a license prohibiting hatred? Or insist that software cannot be used for bad purposes, such as making money from hatred? In a conversation with free software advocates, I suggested limiting the license to non-commercial use. This clause will immediately resolve the truth and social issues. For the free software community, this will represent an important step towards paying attention to how its code is displayed in the world.

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