@iankenway Nice. I think he is on to something with the cake-to-climate ratio.
A while back, I was trying to come up with another useful formula to assess civilizatory maturity. I was thinking about how I could fit in the shopping-cart-toiletpaper-in-the-face-of-desaster index. 🤔
Capitalism is killing the planet – it’s time to stop buying into our own destruction
Dawn of the Dead by George Romero is a great movie indeed. I had not seen that one of the series yet. The whole franchise is great, as each movie focuses on a different topic. The social commentary is fantastic. Unfortunately, more recent productions of the genre fail to achieve that kind of depth.
Today, time to check out the Diary of the Dead.
@trinsec Yep, I have seen the Mad Max films and they the scenario is most certainly the most popular one that seems to come to peoples mind. I think Fury Road was way more enjoyable than the older ones. I rewatched the the series, as I barely remembered the older ones, and I had not seen the first one at all, which turned out to be the worse one, in my opinion. To be honest, I found Mel Gibsons acting quite lame. He's an idiot anyway, so I am quite happy that Fury Road became the best one.
Speaking of which, I happened to watch an other australian film recently: Wyrmwood. I liked the somewhat fresh take on the zombie genre. Those kind of movies can be rather repetitive, as it is mostly the same setting: virus infects mankind, the dead rise, survival begins. So it really comes up to the details and the social commentary of the circumstances. Recently, I am going through the George Romero classics. Today, Dawn of the Dead it is.
@trinsec Yeah, I have seen the hype around the Squid Game series, but have not seen any episode yet. Thanks for the recommendation.
Generally, I don't like to watch series that much, as they can create a long term attachment. Film series can be great though. For example, I really enjoyed the new Planet of the Apes movies, apart from the unoriginal remake.
Jetzt sind auch die Anhänge der Prüfung von Microsoft365 durch den @lfdi in Baden-Württemberg öffentlich.
Die klare Empfehlung zur Nicht-Nutzung wird somit noch besser nachvollziehbar.
I have not been using this profile a lot, as I have been active on an other instance, but I might want to practice my english from time to time, so here we go.
Given that we are living somewhat disturbing times, that come closer and closer to the distopian visions exposed in literature and cinema, I have been watching quite a few (post-)apocalyptic movies recently. One of my favorite discoveries was Snowpiercer: humanity messes up with terraforming when they try to combat climate change and end up in a class war on an inhabitable planet.
Feel free to make recommendations. I love science fiction and zombie films can be fun too.
Archivists Are Trying To Save Sci-Hub
"... Sci-Hub is built out of 850 separate torrents housing 100,000 articles apiece, making the site’s entire database take up a whopping 77TB of data. While there’s a handful of torrenters working with Library Genesis to catalog as much as they can, the collective is trying to recruit at least 85 more data guzzlers to store 10 torrents apiece, adding that they should “reach out to 10 good friends” and ask them to torrent what they can. With enough people on board—the goal is 8,500 torrenters total—they’ll be able to siphon off the entire library.
@namark Well, that is exactly my opinion: I question the meaningfulness and practicality of property right.
We are simply talking about semantics: the word "tool" refers to a mental concept we can, but must not, agree upon. The same with all the rest of the words we use all along. Product, consumer good, producer good, exchange value, means of production, capital and so on. That is some basic linguistics. We can look those words up in a dictionary, but it does not mean that the definition is valid on an individual level or even culturally. The more abstract the concept, the more difficult it is to match with the individual interpretation. Human language is more often than not confusing and communication fails. We may easily agree upon what is bread, but freedom is not so clear at all.
@namark To sum it up more boldly: everything we do happens in a legal framework of which property rights are a part and there is no technology without knowledge. Would you agree that software is a tool?
@namark But is it not the case that GPL functions under a legal framework so that the free software is being defined as intellectual property and the licence speciefies what is allowed and what not? Otherwise the code would exist without a licence whatsoever. The code exists as that legal subject, right? I mean, that is all there is about immaterial property anyway. It is an agreement that something has value and that is enforcable under the legal system. If that legal subject has no exchange value as a product, so be it. It still exists as that idea that you can use for something, be it for your learning or for entertainment. I think the only thing we disagree upon, is the word we use for that immaterial entity which is the idea, be it a code or a recipe.
Likewise I might have a wonderful methodology to produce a bread and I can make a patent for it. The recipe does nothing on its own, you need the ingredients to make the end product. Yet, you don't necessarily need my teaching in order to bake the bread: the recipe is enough if you have the knowledge to make it work.
I did already mention that intellectual and material property have different characteristics, but as we can see, they both belong to the same productive process and are both part of property rights in general. You may not like the idea to reclaim also material commons, but the information under copyleft does exist as immaterial commons, I don't think that there is denying that. I just like the idea that there is a possibility that free bakeries and free bread can exist. The only thing I have been doing is referring to the economic context in which the freedom of free software manifests itself.
Immaterial things are tricky things to wrap your head around, such as money. Money is not real. It is only a question of trust and legal obligations.
@namark I don’t think that we are essentially talking of different things. I guess that it is also a question of technical terminology, that does not always make clear what the concepts behind the words are. These kind of discussions refer to a complex reality and all of us are not perfect communicators.
My whole point, as far as I comprehended the article, was to describe in economic terms that the free software by itself does not represent a mode of production precisely because it does not have an exchange value. I think that was the intention of the author as well. Free software is free, but I think it would be a failure to not consider it «something». Free software is an immaterial tool and constitues as such a producer good because those tools can be used as input for the capital goods that can then be used in the production of goods and services of economic value. Free software tools are only partially capital goods, as they depend on the physical device as part of the end product, that is finally a means of production. And I think here lies the problem: the economic context requires that kind of analysis, namely the necessity to consider the nature of the function of the thing in question in the productive processes and the exchange value creation.
Free software cannot be sold and that means free access to a substancial part of a means of production. I think that this is the greatness of free software. It defies the notion that intellectual property is needed in the process. Workers and end users benefit from the approach, as they have free access to the tools that they need for their economic activities or simply for the sake of leisure. I think that the intention of the author was to point that out: what if we were to apply this approach more generally?
People would have free access to all the means of production as there would not be property rights that appropriate the workers of a part of their labour. That is the central issue: the owners of the means of production accumulate wealth because they extract value from the workers by renting their producer goods to the workers.
Imagine that someone wants to make a living with a digital tool. Let’s say the idea is to create cultural content and be an «influencer», something that is becoming more and more common. The thing that would create the income is thus information. To start with, the worker needs the devices, that have to be bought, as most material things have an exchange value. The free software is free of charge as it is already a freely accessible common good. Equipped with the digital devices, the autonomous worker needs to pay for the electricity and the access to internet, the immaterial space where the content is to be published. There is the question of technical infrastructure, as internet could be a free common good as well, but I am not entereing in those details now. Electricity might actually be created for free with renewable energy, but that would require an additonal investment in the equipment. All those material things considered, the producer also needs shelter, food and water in order to live. Those things can be either possessed or rented and are needed for the business. The worker thus proceeds to create a fancy video with information about all sorts of interesting and useful things. What is needed, is a client that somehow pays for that content, as the bills of the material inputs have to be paid. Now, what do we observe? People become Youtubers...
So, what is the business? The company that owns Youtube accumulates wealth as it commodifies the data that is being mined from the public and is being sold to other companies. Another aspect can be product placement, as some companies are interested in contracting the content creators directly for marketing purposes. Value is being extracted from the content creator in order to fill the pockets of the owners of the digital platforms and commercial companies.
The alternative would be to find a way to distibute the content on an independent platform, but as happens, PeerTube does not work that way and the potential public is limited anyway, in comparison to the enormous outreach of Youtube. The digital environment does offer some other alternatives to the business model, but the option to go with Youtube and the marketing machinery is the one that offers the best incomes, if you happen to be successfull, and the easiest way to set up a business. The same thing happens with all the other technological and digital giants: they have a succesfull business model, not because they are more ethical or efficient, but because they control the material and intellectual property.
As we can see, the question of property rights is determinant in the process of creating a business and the alternatives are rather limited. Sure the content creator could try to offer the service to the client directly in the hope to be paid for offering information, but that is not what we see happening outside of some consulting services, that are also rather specific.
I think that this is why free software is rightfully not considered that successful in the process of freeing information generally. It is a wonderful example within its limited scope of software, but the economic context suggests that it is not creating a freer society and does not compete considerably with the power of corporations. The social conditions remain untouched and free software is being considered only a technological activity. No, it is not political participation either, at least not directly. Who are the people who profit most from this mere technologial comprehension of the issue? Guess what? Microsoft and company, as they can continue cashing in with intellectual property rights and their economic power.
I would like to point out, that in addition to the question of economic power, property right is also a political consideration, as those rights are defined in a legal framework. And it is this legal context that lies at the very basis of free software and is being rightfully questioned by putting into practice an alternative model of distribution, namely the copyleft.
In general, my commentary was initially intented to point out something that was not already being discussed in the articles: the whole debate about freedom is being coopted and banalized.
With all this focus on building up the argumentative hegemony with respect to who gets to define the correct use of the concept of freedom, we forget that freedoms are defined by law. Those can be in terms of basic human rights or of economic freedom. Therefore, the debate does have intrinsic political relevance. Now, we can perfectly see, that some prefer to give free information a definition that simply refers to the limitations: you can do whatever you want with it. It is exactly this approach that leads to companies appropriating the free software, namely by creating derivatives that can be commericalized. I think that it is rather counterproductive to not allow the restriction that is being imposed by the GPL or some kind of creative commons licence regarding information in general. It just means that corporations are given the freedom to exploit workers.
Now, I think that the real threat to society lies within the loss of a clear concept of freedom generally. Individual freedom mostly exists in a social context in which that very same freedom affects other people. Unfortunately, some political initiatives are not even remotely taking that into consideration and trying to establish individual freedoms as the only standard.
Just consider the covid pandemic: people are reclaiming their right to not wear masks as a matter of individual freedom. The real hazard, established as an objective truth by the scientific method, is of course the fact that not wearing masks contributes to the spread of the disease and endangers fellow citizens and can potentially harm or kill them. Do those members of the community not have the right to be protected of the irresponsible behaviour exhibited by individuals who fail to recognize their responsiblility and the limits of their individual freedom?
The same can be said with respect to cars also: people reclaim their right to continue polluting the environment and contributing to manmade global warming. Is that not a general hazard to the population established by science?
The thing is that I observe that «freedom» has become an empty political slogan in order to justify whatever comes to your mind and I am worried about that. Was there not some philosopher who warned about that?
@namark As far as I understood those quotes, they indeed refer to the problem of wealth distribution in the form of a commons-based production, in case that this would be of interest. For me it is, as I think that poverty is precisely a consequence of wealth accumulation due to the mode of production. I try to summarize my understanding of our discussion:
On the one hand, the produced free software does not have any exchange value, as it cannot be commercialized as such. It thus goes to the stock of common goods that anyone can access freely. At the same time, a corporation cannot appropriate the product as they are obliged to offer a derived product that is also open source, and it would hardly be worth the effort to maintain one for practical reasons. In consequence, the free software under GPL does not directly create income for anyone. Free software is being produced by the workers for free in the sense that they need to engage in other economic activities that create the income so that they can realize that productive labour. The producers of free software are partially working for free, as they do not get anything in return for their production of software, and are otherwise selling their labour.
On the other hand, the material consumer goods that the workers need for their subsistence always have some exchange value as they are being commericalized and the production does have associated costs that need to be covered by that. I mean, there could be a bakery that hands out bread for free, if the costs of the production in the form of the material costs of the end product and the labour of the workers would be paid for from the surplus of some other economic activity. In a way, that business model can be observed in soup kitchens, where donations are the source of funding for the food and volunteers provide the labour for free in order to organize the distribution. Again, the volunteers need to engage in other economic activities in order to guarantee their own subsistence.
With respect to other kind of immaterial production, such as knowledge and cultural content, the same problem persists. If you want to distribute the product for free, you need to have some other source of income in order to pay your bills, as you cannot create exchange value with your product. For example, content creation for Wikipedia is a noble activity, as it adds to the stock of common goods that can be accessed freely, but it is not a business for the content creators. They just provide their labour for free.
I would say that this is the economic context in which copyleft is collaboratively spreading freedom, namely, producing free wealth as a common good. But, it is always restricted to immaterial goods, as the underlying mode of production does require certain proprietary rights and an exchange value. Copyleft is nothing more than a special form of distribution within that business model.
So, yes, I agree with you: the production of free software actually cannot be called production at all.
I do perceive it as free labour though, regardless of the fact that it is not recognized as such in the economic sense, in a similar way as domestic labour is invisible in the form of caring for the elderly and children or cleaning, for example. Paradoxically, it is still possible to pay someone for such services, but those who do not have the means to do so, simply do that work themselves for free. In general, I think it is a question of economic privilege and exploitation of labour.
Did I get something wrong with respect to the work associated with free software and the dynamics of the licences therein?
Now, the topic of intellectual property is also very interesting. It does seem to have some similarities, but it might show also some differences regarding the economical context, right? Wouldn’t academic papers be a good example for the publishers proprietary control of the intellectual production? I mean, scientists do not actually get paid directly for that labour either, do they?
I will try to wrap my head around the legal reflexions as well. So, copyright law can turn into a tool of exploitation and be quite absurd, but, for practical questions, doesn't it also protect the commons?
I find this to be a fascinating conversation, thank you!
@namark Well, I did not read that "Everything must be solved through an all encompassing political revolution" in the article at all. Was there something special that made you think about that? In general, I don't even know in how far the term revolution is useful these days, as it is one of those words that can be used to mean whatever you want. Historically, it means a violent revolt against the political establishment, such as what happened in France with the monarchy.
Regarding your criticism of the peer production and CC licences, I think I get the shortcomings with respect to the pathological business practices, as far as I can read between the lines of your discursive style. I would love to know what you identify to be the core issue, as that might further clarify your take on the things. By the way, I am not only interested in all this because of software, but licencing in general. Would the GFDL or something similar resolve the issue at hand in things related to intellectual property in general? You mentioned that the engineering industries are quite alike, even though there is a subtle difference when it comes to software. Are intellectual property rights comparable at all or is it completely out of context?
@namark I totally agree with you on the notion of educational reform. That is a good starting point. Unfortunately, the educational systems, public institutions and offices in general are infested with propietary software and a major requirement in the labour market is to have skills in those products.
I also welcome your sane attitude to be aware of inherent biases, as I try to practice that myself. In this case, I get your point that the author sounds overtly negative about the problems of the licences. I would not go so far as to accuse being manipulative with that though, as it is just a personal assessment of the strategies within the free software movement. I think it is quite clear that there is no agreement on the right stance anyway, given the divide in the community.
However, I do think that it is not so simple to exclude the political framework altogether. Naturally, confusions may arise when politics refers to institutional activities only, when social interactions in general, such as economic activities, are actually political and relevant. I would rather say that any human endeavour is not strictly apolitical, as we live in a society and our lives connect and influence each other in many ways. There is no use of technology without ethical implications. Is it not also a bias pretending to be apolitical when you are not?
Anyway, as I see it, your disagreement with the criticism of the approach as presented in the article comes back to the question whether the success of FOSS is viable by means of the current practices or not. My understanding of the conclusion of the author was that there are some serious shortcomings with the licencing because of the economic context, evidenced by the modest success of the alternatives in comparison to the propietary products so far. I do not know in how far the progress is stagnating, but I do see megacorporations making the profits of their lifetime. Digitalization is in the hands of a few dishonest businesses, everything else is still marginal.
With respect to the alternatives that might continue being exhausted in the future, what is your take on the peer production licence? I think it does address some social issues related to the business model, as workers rights are given importance.
@namark I do get the point about only open source products being auditable. That is the exact reason why I trust them as a not so knowledgable user.
Why not have major political reform giving support to GPL then? I mean, there are initiatives like public money, public code adn such. I am not so sure about the assumption that market dynamics alone will magically give rise to the masses of honest plumbers that are capable to put into practice the alternative. People keep working for the megacorporations for a reason, do they not?
@namark Thank you for your clarifications. You might want to reconsider your abrasive tone, as it might indeed lead to people to ignore your otherwise valuable input.
I thought that the point was precisely that FOSS has not been put into practise on large scale. My understanding is that it is considered a "fail" because it cannot compete because of the general market dynamics. I understand that it can compete qualitatively, but if it cannot become a viable alternative for other reasons, then I think it is a fair point to question the approach. Did I get it right that GPL does restrict the use in the sense that corporations cannot commercialize modified derivations without being open source? I am struggling to get all the details of the licences correct, as it is quite complicated after all.
Regarding your comment that there is no product, do you actually mean that the software in question is a gift and the business is about offering a service? In how far is the business model different from the approach of propietary software that is not a gift and there is also the same additional business, namely the service?
On a sidenote, I would be interested to know why you discourage political change. Having a business is actually quite political, as economic power is precisely the thing that has most influence on the political course of the world. Just think about Facebook bringing Australia to its knees and changing legislation because of economic pressure. Democratically elected politicians seem to be representing industrial lobbies, rather than the interests of the citizen.
@namark To start with, I would like to point out that I am still learning about the issue and that it does make sense to be clear in your wording, so that I can understand what you are talking about. I am happy to learn from your vast exprience in the field, but I would also love to see you stay respectful and polite. That is how you might actually enlighten me and the rest of us who do not grasp the correct way to deal with the licences.
As far as I can see, the second article does contextualize the question about who is presumably the flaghip project. I did actually get the impression that the author recognizes the merit of GCC, while not attributing the actual leadership to anyone.
And, yes, I did refer to all encompassing industy change, too. I think the main point is about seeing the reality of the workers in the overall economic context. I do agree that this needs to be resolved in order to overcome the current paradigm of corporations exploiting workers and developing technology for free. My understanding is that FOSS simply cannot compete in the market to start with. Are you suggesting that the free software movement, whoever that is, should just accept that all the relevant technology continues to be controlled by the big corporations? I am not sure if I understand your business model correctly.
Aka Squiddy McSquidface
A stranger in this world where life is commodified and profit is deified.
Exploring alternative universes and the codifications of complex vibratory phenomena therein.
QOTO: Question Others to Teach Ourselves
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