UPDATED: RedPepper: A World Without Microsoft
Mar 29, 2001, 14:09 (60 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Heather Sharp)
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Tony Stanco wrote in this morning with these
A lot of commentators to this article are trying to use
inappropriate terms, and so are missing a huge point. We are
entering the intellectual age, so your great grandfather's
socio-economic labels no longer apply. We need to find new terms
and ideas to describe our own reality.
And to do that you need to go back to first principles, which is
why FreeDevelopers wiped the slate clean and went back to the most
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
and women are created equal, that they are endowed with certain
inalienable Rights, and that chief among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness.
And went on from there in the Declaration of Software Freedom
and The Community is the Company (CommCo) organizational
I call the emerging paradigm "democratic economics" and the new
commercial organizations, "democratic economic structures." But who
cares what you call it. But you need to understand that we are in a
new, strange land.
Someone some time back said I should look at Dee Hock's "Birth
of the Chaordic Age." Dee Hock is the founder of VISA and since the
VISA structure is one of the models for the FreeDevelopers', The
Community is the Company (CommCo) structure, I was meaning to take
a look for awhile. Well, I had some down-time on Tuesday and went
to the library and picked it up.
And this is what he says on the back cover:
We are at the very point in time when a 400-year-old
age is dying and another is struggling to be born - a shifting of
culture, science, society, and institutions enormously greater than
the would has ever experienced. Ahead, the possibility of
regeneration of individuality, liberty, community and ethics, such
as the world has never known, and a harmony with nature, with one
another and with the divine intelligence such as the wolrld has
In short, he gets it. In fact, boy, does he get it. I haven't
finished it, yet, but so far there is a lot in it that is
He calls it chaordic (chaos and order). 1. the behaviour of any
self-governing organism, organization or system which harmoniously
blends characteristics of order and chaos. 2. patterned in a way
dominated by neither chaos or order.
I would add, democratic self-governing organization or system,
but so what. The ideas are there.
The reason that the VISA model was so appealing for
FreeDevelopers is because it is a model of competition and
cooperation between the independent member banks who use the VISA
structure to solve their collective action problems that they had
when they had the same networking problems as the independent free
software projects are having now.
So we are at a point where old thinking isn't going to help. In
fact, it hurts. You are going to have to think for yourself for
awhile. But that's the fun part.
Here's the excerpt from the original story:
"If you own a PC, you've got your own software factory. If you
can write good software, multi-billion pound companies need you --
but you could string together the words and numbers that shape the
world as well from a bedroom in Calcutta as from their plush
offices in Silicon Valley. The consumers own the means of
production, the workers hold all the cards: welcome to the future,
a world where the anarchy of software economics has the potential
to overturn capitalism."
"Or, alternatively, there's the doomsday scenario:"
"We are about to enter an age that would have thrilled all the
dictators of the past. An age where machines can be a totally
obedient, non-human, police force allowing absolute control over
the movement and interaction of every individual," says Tony Stanco
of the embryonic radical software company FreeDevelopers.net."
"To him there is a war on. If things keep going as they are now,
before we know it the profit-making strategies of "proprietary"
companies such as Microsoft will leave us with our communications,
commerce and, potentially, democracy controlled by programmes
no-one can scrutinise and few can understand; created and marketed
to us by unaccountable billionaires: "Since proprietary software is
by definition unseen code not subject to scrutiny by the public, it
gives too much power to a few, unelected businessmen, mostly from
the US. Looking back on human history, nightmarish scenarios cannot
be hard to imagine," says Stanco."
- New York Times: Robin Hoods of Cyberspace [Book Review of "The Hacker Ethic"](Mar 03, 2001)
- Mojolin: Is the Open Source development model applicable to other industries?(Mar 03, 2001)
- The Guardian: Giving it all away [Free Software backgrounder]
(Jan 26, 2001)
- NPR's Public Interest Update on the "Free Software Movement"(Dec 31, 2000)
- Salon: The year the hype died
(Dec 26, 2000)
- PaulaGordon.com: Free Software (RealAudio Interview with Larry Wall)(Nov 26, 2000)
- O'Reilly Network: Living Linux: Open Source Beyond Software(Aug 06, 2000)
- LinuxPlanet: .comment: Judgment Day for the GPL?(Jun 26, 2000)
- NY Times: Open-Source Software Arouses Researchers' Curiosity(Apr 20, 2000)
- Upside: "Popular revolt" for freeware?(Apr 09, 2000)