Regarding ‘Free Everything’

In the beginning, it was the FSF, fighting for Free/Open software. Then, others would fight for Free data. Now, some others are asking for Free/Open hardware.

I like free and Free. It is in the best interest of my wallet and my personal freedom as a citizen. But would an economical system where everything is “Free” work in real life? Or is it like communism: great on paper, but impractical, because humans are greedy by nature? Will our civilization mature just enough to produce sheep-humans that could make such a system work, or the human nature of greed can not change because it’s in our genes? What do you think? I am personally perplexed. I like a sort of utopia, but I am not sure it’s achievable. Maybe the current system (some companies being Open and others being Proprietary) is the best system, so citizens can actually choose.


billg wrote on February 17th, 2007 at 1:37 AM PST:

Whether the model is capitalist or communist, whether people want to be paid or not, resources are needed to produce other resources. For example, people in those long Slashdot thread like to argue that, in the absence of copyright and intellectual property laws, authors, musicians and artists would still keeping working because they love their work. But, even if the muse is upon you, you still need resources to create: food, shelter, supplies, etc. Where are those going to come from?

Communism and capitalism just use different mechanisms to decide how resources are distributed.

michael reed wrote on February 17th, 2007 at 2:06 AM PST:

This is it my point.

How about, rather than than all of the creators of content working for free, the consumers instead give some of their money to the creators of content? Those consumers that have argued that the content creators shouldn’t be paid can’t really complain about the high prices as they had put forward the idea that musicians should be working for free and live without money ;-)

Oliver Herold wrote on February 17th, 2007 at 2:24 AM PST:

Freedom ist freedom without any trade-offs. If you like to guarantee something it isn’t freedom anymore, it’s something different.

“Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it” -Pericles

Freedom is no gift, you have to fight for freedom and you have to “live it”. If you’re waiting for other doing it, nothing will happen.

>I do believe that our nature is not that of wolves or sheep.

We do need wolves and sheeps, this is the human nature – but every wolf and every sheep needs common sense. Then you’ll live in paradise, but in a somewhat better world

Luis wrote on February 17th, 2007 at 12:06 PM PST:

I personally like this utopia too, where everything is Free and everyone shares and is good and all. But obviously it’s just a utopia now.

Is it achievable in the future? Sure it is. But unfortunately none of us will most likely see it. However, we can see some changes. Small things, only the beginning, but beautiful nonetheless.

I don’t think that Free Software is very important by itself. I mean, there are many other things that are more important that software for human beings. But software has the right qualities for being Free now. This is why Free Software is important: because it’s a pioneer movement that is showing the way to go. Music and other arts are starting to follow. Who knows what will come after.

If we see evolution of humanity as a kind of circle that starts at the bottom point, we would be now about the top point, which means that from now on it’s in certain way a kind of return. We don’t need so much to invent new things as to recall some long forgotten ones (being careful about what Ken Wilber called the pre/trans fallacy, of course). That’s why many things that seem to look into the future at the same time seem to look into the past (environment protection, respect for nature and animals, community based economy,…)

I do believe that our nature is not that of wolves or sheep. Or yes, we are both at the same time. But we are also much more than that. Digging through layers and more layers until we fully disclose and realize our true nature is the ultimate meaning of life and humanity. And all the rest are just tools to achieve it.

JBQ wrote on February 17th, 2007 at 12:10 PM PST:

The interesting question would be to know how much people are willing to pay to get Free stuff.

That reminds me of the case of the domain. It was originally free but captive, and we had to pay to make it Free.

billg wrote on February 17th, 2007 at 12:41 PM PST:

“Free” as in “costs nothing” won ‘t work because resources are limited. People need to make choices about which scarce resource to use to extract or produce another. As soon as you’ve done that, you’ve created a hierarchy of economic value. Money, in other words. People who control desirable resources will demand to be paid.

“Free”, as in GPL, only works if (a) enough people agree to play by the rules, and, (b), resources external to that community are available to make up for the fact that community members are consuming more reources than they produce. Point B leads you back to the first graf in this comment.

michael reed wrote on February 17th, 2007 at 12:49 PM PST:

I’ve been mulling this question for a while too and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not attainable. It could only become attainable, IMO, if we moved all of society over to something communistic. Within a capitalistic, society there must be some sort of payment system in place in order for people to obtain the commodities that people want (music, bread, etc).

Whenever I read an article about how that is an outdated model that is gradually being replaced (this view seems to be the prevailing view held on Slashdot, for example), I am always dissatisfied with the solution that is offered.

For example, in the case of a musician, wondering how he gets paid, for his work in producing the music the answer always seems to be relate to “some more imaginative model”. However, we are never told what the model is.

I can see how a third party could build a business model around packaging and selling someone else music, but I don’t see how the money every gets back to the musician.

Richard wrote on February 18th, 2007 at 8:46 AM PST:

In my Opinion it is not about Free/Open hardware, but about getting a manual for a piece of hardware you bought, that is required to use the device.

And I believe that a manual should not only include basic operation, but also the essential bits and pieces required to write your own software/driver for the device. And of course that manual should be available to anyone owing such a device.

I don’t see how this simple request is not okay?

billg wrote on February 18th, 2007 at 12:32 PM PST:

>>”…consumers instead give some of their money to the creators of content?”

That would be just shifting the problem of scarce resources from the artists to their benefactors. So long as resources are scare (they always will be), a hierarchy of value will develop. Those who control desirable resources will demand to be compensated in some fashion, i.e., paid.

In other words, there’s no free money and there’s no free lunch.

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