Bill Gates VS Richard Stallman: should the software be free? (and II)

As we said in the previous installment of this article, the GNU allowed the philosophy of free culture to be developed, a movement devised by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, which would summarize all your proposals in a founding book: Free culture.

To understand how important it is for culture to reach everyone regardless of their economic capacity, this almost legal treaty must be read, which obviously escaped the companies that earn the most money from the commercialization of culture, as well as their attempts to create an artificial shortage of it.

GNU universe integrated in private universe

Six years after Stallaman presented the GNU operating system and the GPL license, Linus Torvalds, a young student of the University of Helsinki, designed kernel, the core of an operating system for personal computers very similar to Unix that was compatible with Stallman's GNU project, being distributed under a GPL license. As he explains Jeremy Rifkin in his book The society of zero marginal cost:

The Linux kernel allowed thousands of prosumers around the world to collaborate online to improve free software. Today, GNU / Linux is used in more than 90% of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world, in many of the 500 most important companies and even in integrated systems such as tablets and mobile phones. (…) GNU / Linux demonstrated something even more important: that the development of free software in a common way could improve the development of proprietary software in the capitalist market.

Perhaps the solution to all problems is not free culture, not even the GNU, but what seems appropriate is that this philosophy coexists on equal terms with that of Bill gates or even the even more elitist of Steve Jobs. In this way, some prevent the others from monopolizing too much power or vice, competing with each other for what benefits us all. That the computer science is developed and that the culture arrives in the cheapest possible way to the greater number of people.

In fact, the hacker corps that emerged around GNU and Linux showed that emotional incentives, beyond the economic reward, can be sufficient motivation for voluntary collaboration. Wikipedia proved it again later. But the exchange between equals and the collaboration organized around common goods was nothing new, being observed in social organizations throughout history.

Even a historical vision in which cultural products are generated by individuals for their benefit is something quite recent and unique, as it summarizes again Jeremy Rifkin:

That the culture is believed by elites or the masses depends largely on the nature of the environment. The revolution of the steam press with books and newspapers, and the revolution of electricity with cinema, radio and television, favored copyright protection. The centralized nature of the media and the definition of contributions "individualized" the cultural contents. The printing press introduced the concept of individual authorship. It is not that before authors were missing (such as Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas), but they were very exceptional cases. Before the printing press appeared, the manuscripts used to be the work of hundreds of anonymous Amanuenses who spent a lot of time writing them. An Amanuense could slightly change the meaning of a short piece of text by retouching a phrase or two, something that can hardly be described as authorship. The Amanuense considered themselves copyists. Even the few authors whose names are associated with a complete work were not considered creators of their writings and had the feeling that their ideas came from an external source in the form of vision or inspiration.

Video: Linus Torvalds: Disagreement With Free Software Foundation (November 2019).