Food for thought: Is free software vegan and open source vegetarian?
Speaker: John Sullivan
Type: Talk (45 mins)
Room: Menzies 9
Time: Jul 09 (Sat), 10:00
"Open source" split from "free software" to be more pragmatic, to gain entry to the business world, partly by being more accepting of proprietary software. This led to descriptions of free software as "vegan" and open source as "vegetarian." Let's question this analogy, and in the process explore how the Tofurky is made, looking at underlying motivations, ethics, communication, and collaboration.
In Debian, we don't just want to write and package free software or open source code. We want others to understand why we do it. We want to get along with each other. We want other people to join us in envisioning a world where our kind of collaborative production is the norm. At the very least, we want them to think we're not crazy.
The challenges for those committed to our cause can be similar to those choosing to be vegetarians or vegans -- having to explain why we won't eat what seems to others to be perfectly good software/food, why we can only frequent certain restaurants/websites, why we refuse to serve meat/proprietary software to others. We can be similarly accused of being judgmental, impractical, idealistic, or "in a phase." Because many more people are familiar with the concept of dietary restrictions motivated by concern for animal rights, environmental ethics, sustainability, and health, this can be fertile ground for analogies to explain our choices in software and technology.
As we chew the fat, we'll learn more about the diverse motivations within our movement, leading to both better collaborative potential among current practitioners and improved recipes for communicating about what we do to brand new audiences.