I would wager that every person that posts a "Can anyone recommend a good free video editing software" post isn't looking to take advantage of the "Free" aspect of Open Source software. They just want a no-cost alternative to WMM. (Or a free copy of Adobe Premiere Pro...)
I agree that that is the case. However, that's why I'd like to try to set the record straight.
But free, in any other sense is "no cost" or "gratis", especially for goods like a "free lunch", "free ride", "free game", and "free beer" to most people. Unfortunately, software generally falls into this category. Admittedly, most Free software is also free, but not necessarily so.
Right, which is why slow, steady re-education is necessary. They can actively reject
the ideas, which, although I'd rather they integrate it into their mindset, is still fine by me. At least you expose people to new ideas.
Software, for a while, has been produced like physical merchandise (hell, it even has the "ware" fragment in it) but there's very important differences between software and, say, this keyboard I'm using to type this post out.
The often-stated economic differences aside (e.g. practically zero marginal cost), Dr. Lessig refers to software as (paraphrased) the code that runs the machines that increasingly govern our lives, and in that case, it should be free in the same way that law (another governor of our lives) is free: free access and free modification, but not free to craft. (I suggest you email him for his full argument, or look around for it.)
That needs to be considered; however, it can only be
considered if the role of software is given some term that makes people question just why
software needs that sort of freedom in the first place. "Free" is one of the most concise words to do it (so it sticks) but it does have that ambiguity problem. "Free-access software" doesn't work either. "Free as in law software" requires you to explain what "free-as-in-law" means, and it's too damn cumbersome to say, anyway. So definition priorities need to be changed.
Keeper of Hellfire wrote:Should I call you "Don Quichote" now? Because the fight you try to fight is as useless as his against the windmills.
Sure, you can do that. You can also tell me to move to Russia, or the ten thousand other pejoratives that people try to use. (Well, if moving to Russia is a bad thing, which I assume people want it to be.)
The problem with you calling me that is that Don Quixote acted alone, whereas there's 20-something years of precedent for what I'm doing. So you would not be correct. I do like literary allusions, though.
The term "free software" is used by the masses for software without fee (freeware is derived from it). And such usally used terms defy any attempts to correct them. Especially you can't correct them with some academic definitions.
So, your argument comes down to:
"The masses think this is right; let's go with them!"
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I do not think that it is very difficult to help people see another, clear definition, one person at a time. Heck, a nonintrusive link would do. If they want to check it out (and, yeah, people click on links) then that's great. If not, well, just keep trying.
As for clear-cut definitions: I gave you links that clearly delineate the differences between the two terms.
I know multiple wrong terms in German, which resist their correction since decades or centuries despite being taught correctly at the schools. Even I use the wrong ones with knowing the correct terms. I think in English it's similar.
The term "free" isn't wrong; "freedom" has been one of its fundamental definitions since who-knows-when. (German seems to be lucky to have an unambiguous definition; please let me know if that's correct.
) The definition that people often use in their mental cosmology in the context of software is wrong, but that can be fixed.
You shouldn't waste time and energy to change something you can't change. Invest it in your hobbies instead. Or is correcting people your hobby?
Again with the "you can't change this" truism. Why can I not change this? Nobody has ever given me a good reason. Is it one of scale? I don't think it is: I don't have to do this alone; ideas can be viral.
One of my hobbies is tinkering with this sort of software. Getting the word out about terminology is a secondary, but important, activity. I can't really explain why
I tinker with this stuff, or why freedom is important to me, if people don't have a clear idea of what it is I'm doing.
I notice that no one commented on the dolphin-vs-fish definition. Really, guys, that's what it comes down to. Sure, nobody will spear you for getting it wrong in common speech (except perhaps marine biologists and other scientists), but when you're working in public policy for marine life, and you're looking at funding the construction of wildlife habitats, you should know the difference. The same thing applies here when you are making recommendations on software suites.
And I agree with Willen. Use "Open Source" instead. The distinction between "free" and "Free" is erased with a simple typo, and in the spoken language you can't hear it at all.
So what do you think of when you hear "free society"?
Of course you can't hear the difference in capitalization. The point is to encourage a transformation of the word "free" in another context.
I'd like to point out that "Open Source" has ambiguity problems that are actually a lot more insidious than this. A lot of people think it just means "you can see the source code"; but that doesn't also imply "you can change and/or redistribute it". That strikes directly at the heart of the hobby I mentioned above.
Zarxrax wrote:There is nothing wrong with calling free-as-in-beer software "free software", because that IS, in fact, what it is. I've never understood the gripes supporters of Free (as in speech) software have with people using a common word for one of it's intended purposes.
It is in fact free-as-in-no-charge. The problem, mathematically stated, is that it implies sets having the same members that, in reality, may or may not have the same members.
One question that you may ask is "why does freedom-as-in-speech matter to the average user?" and, well, that's a hard one to explain. Lessig's argument provides one angle of approach, but that doesn't always resonate with people.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that some people just don't care about that freedom. They want the bells and whistles above all things. (Not that that's bad, but that's the way some things are.) How do you teach people like that that it is important for their own sake? I don't know. You can certainly tell them that other people depend on it to help them
, but I don't know if that's such a good answer either.
Far more people are concerned about "free" software than about "Free" software. If it's a problem, then this is entirely the fault of the Free Software Foundation for choosing such a title which is clearly causes confusion. You can't just roll in and say "our usage of this word is better, so please quit using that word for your common needs". YOU GUYS are the ones who need a new word, if you don't like the confusion.
The word "free" in the context of software, as defined by the FSF, has been established, and is gradually supplanting the old definition. (The Google results point that out.) What's wrong with getting people to widen their mindset?
By the way, where does this "me-against-you" dichotomy come from? That's something I wasn't working towards at all. Heck, I even said I make the same mistakes.