Perception of Free/Libre Software

Roberto’s latest comment reminded me of his presentation at quifree.’  One of the points he made was about the missing ‘perception’ of Free/Libre software, a constant discussion theme during the years at FSFE.’  What are the values of Free Software? How to make such values meet the needs of users, citizens and companies? While many people in the community dismiss the issue easily marking it with the bad word ‘marketing’, I don’t think it is neither bad nor simple to address the perception issue.

In my recent public speeches I focused on one value of Free Software:’  business ethics within digital society.’  In short, my argument is that since the society has changed to an economy of information, those that write software have the power to control information and therefore control society. Modern societies evolved systems, like democracy, so that big powers could be balanced. Free Software helps introducing ethics in digital environment, empowering the users thus balancing powers.

There are more values in Free Software that can be found and communicated and I hope others will join the effort.’  It is marketing, and we better not be afraid of it… otherwise good messages for our values will remain in the hands of our competition.



1 Comment


  1. The analogy between a modern society and a digital environment is perfect. However it would be a mistake if we make an analogy between democracy and ethics. The former is related to an institutional practice, the latter is, to put it in broad terms, a matter of personal preference or interpretation about putting ideas into practice. Ethics, sometimes depending on the audience, is too weak as a term to make it a starting point for balancing powers and fighting social inertia. This is because, ethics is the consequence of the establishment of institutions, not their cause. In that sense, democratic institutions, like the communities of users, to be established for the digital age is a top priority.The results are already encouraging, however the extension of capacities (i.e. integration) and the setup of other complementary forms are required. How to strengthen communities? First by making them sustainable. This is a major next step for now and the open future. By showing to people that communities make a difference, an interesting improvement to their lives. If this is true, ethics will emerge. If not, even for the best intentions, the trap of the old economy is just around the corner…