The free software movement’s dilemma

The free software movement’s aims are noble and I’m happy to say I support them.

However, there are largely two ways of furthering the movement:

  1. Communication of the message
  2. Contributing to a software project

Largely, the ideological “free software advocates” are focused on the first point, with people who are doing the second point falling into a much larger and vaguer group of people who happen to find various things convenient.

The problem is that nothing remotely interesting has developed in the field of free software advocacy (point 1) in a long time – probably since the release of GPLv3. There have been no new approaches, no reaches out to the public, and no answers to the question of what happens next. Things just stagnated.

The Ubuntu project has done a good job of communication in the past, but it has never communicated the free software movement’s aims, and the free software movement has always stropped like a angsty child, or a peed off record company association.  Make no mistake, Ubuntu has problems, but simply shouting “Ubuntu isn’t free” isn’t a clear and effective way to communicate the free software movement’s aims.

The problem, of course, is it is an activist movement of techies: outward communication is not a skill that comes naturally.

But outward communication *must* be the skill the movement is best at.

Communication and promotion of the free software movement has to be the primary skill of activists, and researching how to develop those skills must be the highest priority.

When I campaigned around Manchester for my political campaigns, we ran training workshops for activists, we helped everyone practice, we released videos and put them in places where people would see them, we picked up timely press issues and offered comment on them.

Not sure what you should do, or where to start? Read a book. There are loads on this sort of thing, and the advice within can make a really big difference.

In essence, I think the free software movement can do better. A lot better. And you, the person reading this, should be apart of the start.

Think this: how better can you communicate the free software movement’s message?