[discuss] Defective by design
russell at flora.ca
Tue May 30 17:31:05 EDT 2006
Bill Traynor wrote (On the 25'th):
> Each day, I see various
> blog posts regarding daily issues, or events that have taken place
> coming from various voices in the Canadian blogosphere and I'd be like
> to see CLUE become one of those voices sooner than later.
Do we want to be one of the "quick" voices, or one of the more well
thought out and trusted voices? While it would be great if we could be
both, we realistically have to pick one or the other.
Take the Census as an example. I think there were a lot of quick
messages going out about compatibility issues, many of which turned out
to not be technically correct. It took quite a bit of time to analyze
the problem, and the the government "fixed" that specific compatibility
While the government's claimed reason for the compatibility problems
was a need to do extensive peer review on various versions of client
software, they threw that whole claim out the window by "fixing" the
compatibility problem without any possibility that a review (independent
or not) was done.
There is an ATIP outstanding (Filed by some UofO security students)
for adequate documentation to do an independent review. While the
government didn't allow time for input into the Census (even though this
project was in-planning since 1999, the technical community never
received anything from the government to allow us to review until it was
too late), this is an ongoing issue. This is not the only interaction
with government using similar unaccountable proprietary software being
installed on citizens computers, and there is a need for a higher-level
policy that isn't focused on a specific interaction.
> I believe in this regard that individuals such as Michael Geist have
> agreed to advise CLUE on questions of CLUE's position. But the more
> the merrier.
This relates to the speed issue. The more people who have input, and
the more the need to have a well thought out position, the less we are
able to have 'instant responses' that are not simply quotes from
previous policy documents.
At this point the New CLUE is just rejuvenating itself, will soon be
(or currently is -- I'm not sure) ready for accepting new memberships
online, and things will grow.
At some point in the future we will have vetted policy documents on
the site, and whenever an issue comes forward we will be able to quickly
respond by cutting-and-pasting from these documents. At this point we
could easily make mistakes that could hurt our long-term credibility.
> Mine is to simply see the code of every piece of software I'm running.
That goal has other sub-goals that are part of it (the ability to
study the code).
In order for you to see the code, everyone writing the code needs to
be willing to release it. That means there needs to be sound economic
reasoning behind it, such as the whole economy behind peer production
(which demands the ability to modify and build upon the code of others)
and peer distribution ( the ability to distribute the original and
changed versions). All of this is also preconditioned on the ability to
run modified code, something that is under attack from "trusted
computing" environments where the keys required to run software is kept
with the manufacturers of the devices rather than the owners.
Even if you see your goal as only "to study the code", you end up
needing to advocate for the other Free Software freedoms in order to
achieve your goal. Anything else means a dwindling amount of legacy
code will be the only thing available for you to study, and there won't
be an economy to support the availability of new software.
Hmm: The freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve
the software -- sounds familiar from somewhere :-)
>> Other people have different goals. Many in the larger FLOSS community
>> don't see FLOSS-only as a useful (or possible) ultimate goal, even when
>> I see it as inevitable.
> Again, I hope you're right.
All part of the economic analysis of FLOSS, something that far too
few people look into. Only when the economic motivations for FLOSS are
understood, and the growing economy built around FLOSS, will the
inevitability of this model be understood or believed.
People need to realize that FLOSS is economically sound (simply
allowing the marginal price to be equal to the marginal cost, which by
the nature of software is zero). It is the incumbents using "software
manufacturing" (treating software as if it was hardware, which by its
tangible nature has a non-zero marginal cost) that are trying to hold on
to economically unsound business models.
We need to fight the FUD of those who are incumbents that will be
displaced by this transformative economic change, given that this FUD is
the only thing that will stand in the way (slow down and stop) what
would otherwise be an inevitable advancement.
a) Information/Mental process patents (Patent licensing, including
RAND, relies on there being a marginal price)
b) Policies based on so-called "Piracy Studies" from the BSA/CAAST -
Presumes that only boxed-set software exists (ability to count copies --
related to an assumption of a marginal price), and ends up counting
FLOSS as if it were infringement. (Look at the methodologies used for
these studies. It doesn't matter who does the studies or what the
numbers say, it is only relevant to look at the methodology to know what
is actually being counted).
c) Legal protection for technical measures applied to devices by
other than the owners (Manufacturers, content copyright holders, etc)
which break ICT interoperability and the basic freedoms of FLOSS.
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
2415+ Canadians oppose Bill C-60 which protects antiquated Recording,
Movie and "software manufacturing" industries from modernization.
Send a letter to your Canadian MP! --> http://digital-copyright.ca/
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