Decentralization is not the goal. The goal is information and communication services that respect human agency.

Open source is not the goal, the goal is building a commons of software that is free to study, inspect, and improve.

I feel like, as implementors, as people who spend our lives in the digital crawlspaces focused on the details; its easy to lose sight of the why behind the how. I think important to periodically step back and refocus on why we are doing things the way we are doing. What is the desired world state?


correct open source means code is open, Free software with a capital F is an ethos, that is pretty well written, and pretty spot on. It addresses just that

I think people need to give the techies more credit, and just not blame them for long standing problems, they have no way of fixing, especially from people who are part of the problem


Mabey I'll elaborate:

Take a look at the world before the internet. I mean, not through the lens of pop culture, pop history, pop whatever...

I mean, before the internet went mainstream, "the war on terror" was in full swing, along with media sponsored jingo-ist hyper-nationalism, that if you as much dare criticized you'd get cancelled.

The media just pulled all the rebelious stuff off the air on 9/12/2001, and kinda slowly let it back on, when they felt less threatened.

Before that was the hyper-conservative 1990s with Newt Gingrich as speaker of the house, Southern Democrat Bill Clinton in the whitehouse. There were race riots even worse than anything BLM ever did. Police violence was far worse. There were weekly abortion clinic bombings. Far right militia outright held about half of Idaho, and were everywhere.

In the 70s and 80s, don't let those media industry goons fool you, in response to the civil rights movement, they made being confederate a pop-culture meme.

The resistance and everything we were ever told about being a rebel, or counter-culture pretty much turned out to be huslters, scam artists, and what would later be the alt-right except we kinda just turnned a blind eye to anything but "it triggered the conservatives".

Even today, we have the mainstream media just reporposed this so called "nerd identity" around comic book movies and other shit that is almost %100 just military recruitment and nostaligia. We've justed OK'd making being a fan of commericials, often the old ones with low key white supremecist memes.

On top of that, yes, computers and tech isn't going to fix long standing issues with society, especially with a bunch of people that got yeet'd out of society years ago.

When techies DO blow the whistle on something, they pretty much get ignored and erased.

but lets be real frank were we'd be without FOSS. A lot worse. Imagine if all social media networks where tightly controlled by the government from day one instead of the government chasing them down trying to implement control afterwards?

Imagine if content was just an extension of pretty much Hollywood + RIAA music companies and they locked everything else out?

Imagine if they got to gatekeep who got to as much be an administrator, or all computer operation systems required a license, and they had special requirements for server OSs and software, and there was no GNU, Linux or FreeBSD

Imagine if artificial intelligence was primarily used to hunt down dissent?

A lot of the history of the 2010s would be different.

We'd never know what "kill and capture" is. There would be no whistleblowers, because even if they could get the data, the computers of the press would be entirely locked down. The press wouldn't care, because they have important jobs, and the media rarely gives a shit beyond a story that can sell.

Almost anything bad about anyone in power would be suppressed. We wouldn't even know why or how.

Everyone would get an individualized, propagandized version of the truth, and everyone would be suspicious of their neighbors trying to get their shit,

we wouldn't be having this conversation.

As far as Free software, what other industry even dreamed of that kind of ethos in the first place?

So mabey we need to give the techies some more credit. After all, we don't have PR goons running around cleaning up our mistakes, we do that ourselves.

@GI_Jack that's a lot of stuff that I agree with very strongly; but seems to just be slightly tangential to the point I was trying to make.

All I was saying is that we should be a bit cautious in the reification of concepts like decentralization and FOSS and how there are seems to be an attitude that those ideas are in an of themselves goals to aspire to, rather than tools to aid us on our journey toward what we might consider our actual goals. We should be realistic about the strengths and limitations of these things, and we should maintain a degree of adogmatism and flexibility when applying these ideas, or even when thinking about what these ideas even really mean.


I guess people just forgot that "Open Source" means the "code is available", "Free Software" means "the four software freedoms" and is about ethics, rather than distribution.

@GI_Jack @rgegriff FOSS exists to address this goal, but like you said there are problems that it has no way of fixing - that is why we can't lose the sight of the goal. Because just tagging some code with the AGPL (or whatever) or meeting some rigorous definition is not sufficient. It *can't* be sufficient. And, well, people do get pretty hung on those details.


While decentralization is not the goal, I think there is a very good precedent that if a system CAN be abused it WILL be -- by someone.

So if you build in a central choke point, somebody's going to put their boot on it.

Decentralization is a strategy to avoid that, and there is, I think a justified distrust of any entity that intentionally builds such a choke point into the system.

@TerryHancock @rgegriff on the other side of that coin, if you build a system with a central choke point that gets large enough, someone WILL settle themselves onto that choke point knowing you cant get rid of their influence without bringing down a too-big-to-fail system

@rgegriff I would argue that not just software, but hardware and all tech and social institutions, should be free to study, inspect, and improve. Bigger goal of course

@waterbear @rgegriff imagine if the people who figured out how to turn sheep's woof, flax fibres into fabric just kept it to themselves and let (made) every new generation find new way of making clothes. imagine the…. "innovation"

>Your typical architecture astronaut will take a fact like “Napster is a peer-to-peer service for downloading music” and ignore everything but the architecture, thinking it’s interesting because it’s peer to peer, completely missing the point that it’s interesting because you can type the name of a song and listen to it right away.

@rgegriff could u explain to me the difference between open source and the commons you are describing?

@wingedseahorse basically, open source / FOSS is a method by which to build out a commons. It's a strategy. Unfortunately there are some in the movement that treat it more akin to a religion with strict dogmas and a need to convert or correct people who aren't doing it right.

This is before even considering that the vast majority of FOSS projects are really only useful/valuable to corps profiting from volunteer labor and enthusiasts who have gotten used to using software with severe drastic usability problems.

When viewed in this light, the idea that free software is "saving the world" when it's major outputs are brain toys for nerds and free labor for businesses is almost laughable.

The most tragic thing to me is that if FOSS as a movement was more self-critical and self-reflective, you could imagine a whole library of truly useful, beautiful, accessible software that successfully competes with what's commercially produced; unfortunately with a few notable exceptions that just isn't the case.

@wingedseahorse @rgegriff @rgegriff I mean the church of emacs is real. You must respect St. IGNUsitious

Decentralization and Open Source aren’t goals, they are means by which we (should) try to achieve the goal of human agency.
They are tools that can lead to liberation in the right hands but in themselves, they carry no inherent objective.

@rgegriff Totally agree! Technology is only a tool that allows us address the social problems.

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