[FM Discuss] why you should stop using pirated software and learn to love freedom
luka at ljudmila.org
Fri Feb 13 06:29:24 PST 2009
piracy does hurt floss, no doubt.
but it's teaching proprietary software to students who don't
specifically need it that is the most important point for me here.
adam you are also telling someone they're not our supporter because they
are not pure enough. they might feel you don't like them instead of what
they're doing :)
perhaps: "If you teach proprietary software instead of floss then you are locking in your students, hurting their future freedom and doing a disservice to the floss projects."
also, it's prudent to admit that an average designer today still has far less issues to work out trough if they go with adobe instead of floss especially for any kind of printing on paper situation. so maybe not mention these as examples but something where floss actually has the upper hand in the tradeoff of price/time wasted on something not working?
so i think the worst of these now is having windows everywhere in
primary school and teaching word to 7 year olds.
oh and yes, also game consoles should be open and come with basic. ;)
> hi flossies
> a quick ramble around my 2 cents worth on this:
> i reckin that there are a lot of educators who hesitate because of broader
> institutional issues - i have been trying to get researchers at uts (where i
> am currently doing a research degree) to start questioning why they are
> being locked into microsoft word and endnote by the IT department without
> any discussion - the angle i have been taking is that of future proofing
> your work by not locking it into proprietary formats (i have old old essays
> i can't read because i was funnelled into using word as an undergrad many
> moons ago) as well as safeguarding your access to it outside of the
> university when you can't buy the software - for a lot of people it comes
> down to what they can get tech support for, and if only word and endnote are
> supported then they feel that their work is 'safer' using those tools. it
> can be a difficult conversation to start with folks who might take a very
> instrumentalist view to their tools and don't see technology as a central
> concern of their work, but the question of being able to access their work
> in 5 years does resonate strongly. i get the impression that a lot of IT
> helpdesks prefer to use corporate tools because they perceive some structure
> of accountability via which they can pass the buck.
> in my last job i took the initiative to get one of our labs set up with
> linux boxes and installed a lot of free software - i took the approach that
> future-proofing the students meant getting them to work across several
> platforms and make their own minds up. but i found myself having to pull
> back on some of floss substitutions because the department wouldn't commit
> to ongoing tech production support staff who were capable of keeping
> everything runing smoothly under linux (in fact we had some 'support' who
> would scaremonger the students about some of the FLOSS tools i was
> introducing). my hesitation was that i didn't want students to have negative
> experiences of working on poorly maintained systems and to go away thinking
> that floss = unreliable or difficult to use. even if i were better at
> sysadmining than i am, it would have been a very tough call to do that on
> top of the jobs i was already doing - so i ended up curtailing floss action
> in my classroom to one or two servers and some fairly specific activities
> that i felt i could really handle trouble shooting with students, so their
> confidence in the tools wasn't diminished.
> a further issue that people seem to face at an institutional level is that
> it's much easier to get the bean counters to raise a purchase order for a
> proprietary package than to make a donation to an open source project, so
> universities often end up being very poor supporters of tools that they may
> use extensively.
> i have used a lot of free software in my teaching - it has givien me the
> freedom to teach things that my department would not have supported if they
> had to pay for resources - and to a small extent it has introduced my
> students to a different way of looking at their relationship to tools as
> participant-users rather than as only ever being customers.
> however, if there is going to be any real change, then in a lot of places i
> think this is going to require academics to get together and make
> coordinated demands of their university IT departments. mostly universities
> these days have made very big buy ins to conservative approaches to
> intellectual property issues. so i think any real change is not going to
> come from the choices of individual educators.
> that said - i don't think it's a waste of time to preach to the almost
> converted - but if you put it across as an all or nothing choice then a lot
> of people are going to be put off because they work in environments where
> floss can only exist as one of several options, for the time being.
> the current economic climate is very conducive to making the 'gratis'
> argument for using more free tools - but people need also to be ready to
> contemplate changes in their organisational relationships around tech
> 2009/2/13 adam hyde <adam at flossmanuals.net>
>> On Fri, 2009-02-13 at 05:03 +0100, Julian Oliver wrote:
>>> ..on Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 03:42:47AM +1300, adam hyde wrote:
>>>> I was thinking of sending this to a few lists populated by educators
>>>> that support free software (iDC, Rhizome, Fibreculture, nettime
>>>> etc)...comments welcome
>>> you and i have both waxed on about this over the years. great to see
>> you've put
>>> some words down.
>> yip...i remember the audit you did of the cost of tools when you were at
>> RMIT. it was the starting point for what I wrote. Conversations with
>> Michael Mandiberg throughout the FLOSSify process have also been great
>> fuel which finally lead to laying key to screen
>>> i do think it's a little hard-core to say that
>>> If you teach pirated software then you are not a supporter of the
>>> principles and practice of Free Software. This is true whether you
>>> Ubuntu on your personal laptop or not.
>>> .. but it simply is true, albeit a little unclear to those not versed in
>>> constitutes Free Software (remember, open-source to many people actively
>>> the term in their practice means "without copyright", "invites public
>>> collaboration" or "public domain"!).
>>> perhaps it'd be better to say "if you teach software you know your
>> students do
>>> not own and/or cannot afford.."? that said, it seems this paragraph
>> assumes that
>>> people are familiar with the "principles and practice of Free Software".
>> i guess
>>> it comes down to who you imagine your audience is here.
>> yeah, I think my intention is to talk to those people on lists that
>> already know what free sw is because they are sooo close to teaching it
>> but dont. i wasnt too interested in going through the 'what is open
>> source' issue as its a much bigger issue and those that are 'in the
>> know' might not sit through it to get to the concluding points
>>> regardless, the hardest point to push for free software in these
>>> economic times will be its role in the context of 'employability'.
>>> to these ends educators, parents and tax-payers are always going to
>> default to
>>> the argument that Industry Standard software best represents the
>> interests of
>>> students. you basically say it yourself but i think you could be even
>>> affirmative in the argument: teaching /only/ so-called Industry Standard
>>> software is actually "anti-competitive", narrowing student skill-base and
>>> reducing possibility for innovation within their discipline:
>> nice argument...i will include this in a revised version before sending
>>> students of mine at
>>> a workshop recently introduced themselves and their skills not as Image
>>> 3D modelers and Film Makers but as people that knew Photoshop CS, 3DSMax
>>> Final Cut Pro. in this way learning other suites, alongside their (stolen
>>> not) proprietary software, offers a more rounded education that could
>>> students the edge in an economic drought.
>> lovely example. scary to think of branded sectors like this. eeek.
>>> (the 'anti-competitive' argument usually strikes a positive note with the
>>> neo-cons ;)
>>> finally, it is the maldistribution of wealth toward - and subsequent
>>> upon - corporations that has got us into this so-called crisis. with this
>>> mind you can argue that free software presents a valuable opportunity to
>>> strengthen local tech sectors; now's a great time to take advantage of a
>>> attribute unique to Free Software, mutability: save money on software
>>> and invest in localisation. put money into local free software projects
>> and push
>>> that software into schools in the interests of a richer future for local
>>> and their makers.
>> many thanks Julian for these very salient points. I see how I can extend
>> the article to include these and credit you
>>> Julian Oliver
>>> home: New Zealand
>>> based: Madrid, Spain
>>> currently: Madrid, Spain
>>> about: http://julianoliver.com
>>>> Ever pirated software? Most people I know have done this and felt fine
>>>> about it. Downloading a cracked copy of Photoshop feels ok, or
>>>> installing Windows and looking at a serialz site is something that
>>>> doesn't raise much of an issue to many people. Often the software they
>>>> need is just too expensive, they are used to it or need it or want to
>>>> try it, and can't afford the expensive licensing fee,
>>>> Students do this a lot - how can a first year design student actually
>>>> afford Adobe Creative Suite? Many can't. Its also true in business,
>>>> although in my experience sooner or later most people in business buy
>>>> the software either out of a sense of moral obligation or fear of being
>>>> So this seems ok. I mean, it seems to be actually tolerated by software
>>>> companies. The film industry might bust a student for illegally
>>>> downloading a movie, but software companies tend to be a little more
>>>> lenient. Why make bad press when you know a student will eventually get
>>>> a job and come good. In fact its great that Universities teach their
>>>> products in the first place. This is how a tool becomes an industry
>>>> standard - so no need to kick up a fuss. Actually, software companies
>>>> can very easily justify the use of unlicensed software used by
>>>> students as a marketing cost.
>>>> While some might object to the role Universities play in criminalising
>>>> their students and playing the role of out-sourced marketing
>>>> departments for proprietary software companies, thats not the real
>>>> I don't mean that educators are just wrong to assume teaching
>>>> proprietary software gets students jobs. That seems obviously stupid.
>> We all know that teaching a
>>>> tool doesn't make you a good crafts person. Teaching the craft makes
>>>> you a good crafts person. Tools come into it, but tools change,
>>>> especially in any industry that uses software (which is every
>>>> industry). Paradigms shift and industry fashions change. Sometimes a
>>>> dominant player is over-run by a new comer, or, more often, the vendors
>>>> themselves change their own tools either to get you to buy the new
>>>> version, or (less commonly) to make their software better. Nothing is
>>>> stable in software, so knowing software concepts is much more important
>>>> than knowing which tool bar to click.
>>>> However, while poorly equipping their students for the real world is
>>>> probably pretty high on the list of known sins for educators, I'm not
>>>> an academic, I'm in the Free Software business. When these actions
>>>> effect Free Software I feel the pain more acutely. Its a simple
>>>> product of being normally self absorbed. When pirated software is
>>>> taught I feel the impact more keenly when it directly effects me.
>>>> My job is partly about promoting the adoption of free software,
>>>> and so when I see pirated software being taught in educational
>>>> institutions I feel obliged to point out that pirated software hurts
>>>> Free Software way more than it hurts Proprietary Software.
>>>> Pirated software hinders the understanding, acceptance, distribution
>>>> and uptake of Free Software while simultaneously promoting proprietary
>>>> software. Its as simple as that.
>>>> If you teach pirated software then you are not a supporter of the
>>>> principles and practice of Free Software. This is true whether you run
>>>> Ubuntu on your personal laptop or not.
>>>> Teaching pirated software, while providing a fantastic marketing
>>>> opportunity for proprietary software vendors, criminalising students,
>>>> and poorly equipping them for their craft, is also joining the fight
>>>> against Free Software.
>>>> I would say it actually goes further than that but I was trying to keep
>>>> my arguments less ideologically driven and more pragmatic. I also need
>>>> to ponder it more...something about the fact that teaching pirated
>>>> software puts a price on freedom, and that you do not support the
>>>> principles of libre, if you promote it as secondary to the principles
>>>> of gratis...perhaps for another post...
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