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Access Without Empowerment

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and so on like a number of speakers and bacteria and for the 2nd time for froze here 1st 4 5 years ago and so as sensor someone's going up in this community in the free software community is no more broadly it's an honor to be invited back here again
and take the opportunity to talk today and what I want to do today is really talk about you know that they have a provocative title access without empowerment and what I wanna do is really walk through all the big this is sort of like as an ideal logical progress reports the results and more broadly on and I'm going to talk about how I see free software's mission like a huge number of other free culture and a sort of broader movement for free information to fall down into a sort of two-part mission the 1st being accessed entrepreneur loading axis in the dissemination of knowledge and software particular and the 2nd is in terms of empowerment really sort of encouraging people to sort of take control of the software that they're using what I want do we suggest that in you know the sort of in this progress report part suggest that we're than in terms of the 1st mission in terms of promoting access were doing well very well and in fact getting better over time but that in terms of the 2nd mention in terms of sort of promoting empowerment were doing much less well and that in many ways were not improving service not improving nearly as well the origins of promoting access I will walk through why I think it is we've had these
mixed results from sort of to talk through a series of systematic reasons that I identified in the context of our movements and our advocacy in the way in which we structure and engage more broadly and that we have privileged access and sort of as a result led to victories in terms of access that have not been followed by similar victories in terms of empowerment and I wanna sort of end by pointing to 3 sets of strategies that that that that that we might be able to adopt to do better in terms of this in the are so when
I give talks like this and you know want to talking about the of emission it's worth going back to the beginning which is to say that free software definition we start out this with these things I've sort of been repeated to me so many times in repeated to other people to me and I can do it in my sleep but of course the 4 freedoms that most of you are going to be familiar with we start counting at 0 because that's really funny if you're a programmer and but of course there for that freedom zeros of freedom to you suffer for any purpose the 2nd freedom is the freedom to study software to see the source code understand how it works that the 2nd freedom is is the printed circuit share and redistribute copies more broadly and then the and and the the freedom 3 of the 4 freedoms is the freedom to collaborate to share our changes others and a benefit as a community more broadly but the said you get suggested on I think
that these 4 freedoms actually come down to 2 2 2 2 fundamental types of freedom right to categories of freedom more broadly on that the 1st is really about access and this is a quote
from the canoe manifesto this is the 1 that suggests a synthesis Stallman writing I consider the golden rule requires that if a program that if I like aprogram I must share with other people like it suffer so it wanted dividing users and conquer them making Jesus agree not to share with others the refuse break solidarity with other users in this way this idea here that is that if I have something that I like that I should that this sort of the the golden rule something we learned in kindergarten but if someone asks me for a copy of it not I should be able to say sure yeah I want to share that with you right but this this form right here in some ways is actually kind of like a weak form of the art in having mobile and who has some of you may have run into war had the privilege of speak on gives a much stronger form of this argument is based on the idea that software like other information goods has what he calls you would live the economists call 0 marginal cost of which is to say that as an information good if I may take a lot of effort the energy to produce but that once I've produced that piece of software the cost of keeping a copy of that software to another person is 0 effectively easier than that and so mobile and draws a comparison to a machine that could be right if I can make a machine that could be produced and distributed to 100 per cent by pressing a button on Logan suggest there would be no ethical justification for hunger in a world in which the machine right it may cost a trillion dollars to make the machines but once that machine exists starvation is no longer rapidly justify right now for the Gabor information goods like software right that is the context in which were at once in the way they take a huge amount of energy and effort that goes into producing software ones that's suffer this everyone anywhere can happen right on and like all information goods anyone
everywhere can have a piece of software for the same cost that takes to produce it for 1 person and so mobile and suggests that that that in this sense it is ethical imperative that we be able to share software more that's the that's the argument that that acts on that's a very strong version of the argument that is a weaker form just suggests that sharing is that jury is good and on by either 1 of these of these this to to this same kind of argument is not the same degree on the that that the 2nd type of freedom really comes down to to empowerment right arm and empowerment really means not only people should have access to the stuff that it should be able to be disseminated widely but that people should be able to change the software to do what they want I mean this is really a more I think a lot of the rhetoric around result for get it wrong because of there's a sense in which software freedom doesn't matter all all that software doesn't need freedom software wants to the information doesn't want anything in so that what matters is the users the
freedom of the user on and and it's the people the people who are using software on the matter that's about people them I'm talking about in terms of empowerment lots of other some terms that people have used to talk about this includes things like autonomy or power some electrode talk about this I often give an example using when phone so if I pick up my option my phone I want to send a message to you another person using my phone I'm going to be constrained in terms of the kind of message that I can send by the technology of my phone right if I if I wanna like limited to be able to send text messages I mean I can write a I can write a pretty good text message and not so much space but I'm going to mention the nature of the message I can call someone tell me 1 of the conferences I can sing a song I can send a different kind of message of my phone can take a picture like it's an opportunity to receive it then I can send a different kind of message the point is that that that that all of these things are the technological decisions of someone made either in terms of hardware very frequently in terms of software and the nature of those decisions constraints very explicitly the kind of message that I can send with this that's right and to the extent that this device mediates my experience of the world the question of who controls that device and what it can and can't do is there is a question of who controls my experience of the world and other people right and so in so far as their lives are increasingly mediated by devices like this sort of like that the question of who controls those devices devices are controls what they can and can't do becomes an increasingly important political elections and free software in this sense freedoms 0 2 and 3 year 1 3 and 4 depending on the have to here we want to be as were counting them suggests an answer right the answer is you for user right the users of software insofar as
our experience of the world is mediated by these technologies it is important that users be able to control that technology and determine what it can and can't do if we look at other movements if we look at the the Wikimedia movement we look at Creative Commons if we look at uh you know you know the Open Source definition all of these things and they have lots of different ways in which they describe essential freedoms work for parts of the mission the holding company down to these 2 types of freedom freedom to disseminate it sort of spread access and also some and then freedom or inability to change and take control not just be a consumer of the of information or information goods or software but also produces right now as I
suggested I wanted a little bit of a little progress according to the movement terms of these 2 in terms of these 2 the broad mission to these 2 broad types of freedom now in terms of the 1st so the the
1st which is to say uh access I wanna
suggest that we're doing quite well and we've done a fantastic job movement of getting of disseminating the stuff that were writing the software the writing on and that we've been doing that for a long time and that as time goes on really doing doing that this is the sort
of the classic books in these uh net profit uh market share surveys around this of automatic services and publisher almost as long as I've been involved in the free software community and the date for example to a number of things the most famous 1 was the proportion of web servers running different pieces of software and of course as long as the statistics have been kept free software has been dominated dominating in them in terms of server-side scripting languages you see something very similar but you know the uh that we're now it's not only the case that Apache is the most widely used in the vast majority of pages over time it is now the case that even that number 2 is also result for engine excessive past proprietary alternatives as the 2nd most widely used web servers free software is completely dominant in this particular space if we look on browsers are also a lot largely free of cost on all of winter explorer once held over 95 per cent of market share after squeeze Netscape Navigator out illegally 1st according to the antitrust theaters in both Europe and the United States that that and free software brothers including prominent Firefox's Iceweasel my favorite now hold nearly half of the market some recent industry surveys suggest that over 40 per cent of firms engaged in Greece suffered Altman sorry engage in software development at all contribute to free or open source software projects as part of the world free software in this space has been dominant for a long time and is continuing to do on and is in many cases doing even better if you look at usage
shares in terms of operating system you can look at the list of we are still as it that waiting for the year of you know when it's on the desktop any day now on but in lots of other spaces including including smartphones including some servers and and supercomputers and embedded systems Linux-based operating systems in particular but resource properties and more generally generally from occupied enormous proportions of the amount of market share lots and lots of people are in lots of different places using free software you look at the growth of 1 of the
1st places that result was adopted in huge amounts wasn't supercomputing and you can see that there is exponential growth starting in the late in the late 19 nineties until of course we have to slow down because of all of it and is writing this up right do grow past 100 per cent or very close to 1 basically all supercomputers today use and use some version of the Linux on and this is similar in terms of servers if you look at and
smartphone share you can see that in the advanced operating systems go from almost nothing in 2009 and today and today is make up a majority of all on smartphones that are being used you look at the embedded systems including television television it's a relatively recent 1 of probably want some version of lights on an operating system based on free software bits and pieces and of course because free software has been so dominant in this you know sort of very quickly growing space and can say we're we're moving very quickly turns a period of time when there will be more than 2 billion Linux devices and in the world that's the theory of mobile phones running Android on
but if you think about this in terms of the computers that people actually have some data that we're we are close to or on have recently surpassed a period of time where 50 per cent of all computers in the world and are actually running the Linux that the Linux kernels and some operating systems which use the software that we as and movement have them on that's of resource for and now that I what 1
problem with measuring the usage of resources broadly is that it's actually very hard to see when people are using them free suffer many cases when I worked a canonical early on from 1
thing a part of my job was to grow and solve a server of users and um and also developers but in terms of measuring users and people would ask how many users who have said no idea lots of as far as we can tell from we with did I I was personally coordinated the mailing of millions of different event CDs and the CD company that was like producing a cities was so happy with how many cities we're buying they like it music frame like platinum CD like likes and I and I gave my parents and they're like really know what to do but like seems to be going great of our best measures were often based on things like NTP check and so we can see on the computers were coming online in connecting to us and even within the 1st few years of of into being watched there were in the order of tens of that uses few by our best measures and certainly not on millions of a series of distributed as well but there are lots and lots of people there and using using this up at here is just a graph from SourceForge on 2009 was the last period time I could get the damn good data will be on see that in terms and in terms of downloads on which you can see is that there were no many important think you might is that there are in the order of 50 million downloads a month during this period people moved away from SourceForge enlarged in large part by the but the consumption of free software has not abated in other places on there are huge new millions of many tens of millions of people who are even outside of the stuff that comes in all of the devices going out of their way to get and download and use free software of various different things we're doing really well in terms of access on the other this is where we can
and other sort of similar movements we can look at access to knowledge in places where measures of a little bit better because everybody who reads he to go to the website and very we have much better data although still not perfect on consumption of pages there if you and I'll show you this because I'm gonna compare to you know more measures of empowerment later but if we look at growth of Wikipedia some readers over time and we can see that there are no but now if you include mobile this does not include mobile device which is part of what you see if you could occur down there at the end of mobile really there are moving towards a billion
people who are using Wikipedia each month so in the broader free culture and we're doing very good at producing information which we are able to disseminate very widely so but in terms of access we're did we we have been doing excellent for quite a long time we have been building stuff that lots of people are using consuming on in various ways and the are along many metrics doing better as we go on to move forward in time what controllability
to change and re-use is far less universal and free culture free software and universes by a lot on
here is over the same period of time data from on developer on the number of developers from SourceForge and this is a really like whatever the opposite of conservative estimate this is this is double could but this is the number of people on who are developers are project in double counting everybody's this is if you this is assuming that no 1 on sourceforge is ever joined more than 1 project which is is not true participating in many this is assuming that the and nobody using active on sourceforge which of course and if you participated in any 1 of the many prosopagnosia is also not true this is like an incredibly generous estimates on and what we see is that the number of active users using very generous and and so the number of contributors and is in the order of hundreds of thousands of that's to say a couple of hundred a couple hundred downloads per developer every single 1 it has and somewhere over 9 million users of the last time that I checked and of course this includes
lots of proprietary them suffer developers 1 challenge with get have which is why I don't have that from now on is getting a sense of the given projects and users based because it's very hard it's very hard because many products and get a distributed from get and so forth so for example if I write an and I you know course the source coding gain of almost no 1 will download my hand right up and get out of here you can run an Android app and source for you get it through store probably will place on this results hard to measure that on that said come that said the rapid growth of free suffers simple suggests that the majority of these uniforms are running and ready not installing apps which are available
online we don't need to and we don't insult to the extent that the vast majority of people who are running these things like apps on Android on our part consuming monitor we don't really have to speculate about the exact proportion of resource users who engage your engaged in modifying their software because the majority of users which is to say the large majority of users whose only computers are Android devices can modify the software that's running on the device devices even if they even if they have access to all the source code because of course on the Android phone can modify its own software and of itself and that they're not designed to for 1 since they don't have affordances of development tools installed by default but there are also walk down so that even if you wanted to you will be able to and the guy you walk into a Google or a lot of companies people writing Android apps and you see a bunch of people sitting around in using computers and now course if you were to walk into office of people writing software around laptops they will also be much people sitting around using laptop computer right but this situation in the past where the systems we used to develop software also the systems we used to write software meant that people could transcend that role in a way that users of devices
that are locked down so that they can run software and so that are designed so that they can change software anyway I'm means that the battery people constantly which brings us to sort
good is that this is about the last point here which is that this is that the measure of contributors ship to Wikipedia against 2007 which is the period of time there's good viewership information it shows just the sort of the number of editors over here and you can see that since 2007 Wikipedia and has uh has had editor base which is decreasing slightly but is more or less the positive and again this is that it's and but but that the key point is the graph over here which is the percentage of readers of engage in editing that the site so that this is basically that previous graph the number of readers of concern is that this factor here divided by the graph the number of trees and which you can see of course is that although that number of contributors to Wikipedia has more or less held constant since 2007 are gone down a little bit that the proportion of readers has gone from has been there were now looking at that that there used to be 1 in about 1 in a thousand let's say or 1 and a couple thousand users of Wikipedia would engage in editing your contributions and today it's how and the 1 in 5 1 6 thousand people ever heard of change anything that the number of that a smaller portion of people are proportion of people who were accessing pre-knowledge art sort of engaging in that the freedom they have to change that stuff to come out to to build to
become not just consumers producers right so the 2nd
thing and so that's the that's the that's the upper right and good in terms of access and in terms of money access less good in terms of promoting empowerment recent terms of the way in which our movement has defined on but I won't talk about why I think this has then this way by y empowerment is somewhat harder than access and can't with 5 different and
some descriptions of their their explanation the 1st is that some of the forces that access is always sort of step 1 in order to promote if we if our goal is to promote a was only to promote empowerment we 1st media people access the self so that they can then change and as a result our advocacy has some like
as a as a broader movement has focused on promoting access 1st and lots of other so this is a
picture of an installed on the computer 1st installed a new x at and the name of that who's running talk about what people I definitely event installed this so I can refer 1st of all that and here's a picture of 1 in Stavropol and I respect and organized in various ways in number of these high and you know my local Linux User Group in Seattle organizers 1 every month or 2 and people to install that way on we've in terms of our sort of like the work of our advocacy organizations something that we've made a very important part of the way in which we can reach out to people we have not for the most part run similar types of impact on your Operating System parties I'm not because you couldn't on that I've never have not seen that is as often it's certainly a point to you know addressing a small group of people I certainly requires more specialized skills but it's not something that generally speaking we have I will talk about some examples of people who from know later well in
terms of our genetic synthesis of himself freedom day expressions of a freedom day elastomer some version of this part of the person who said that the media was in the audience and I stood in you know local squares in my cities and handed out these people is running in the Open Cities running lots pieces of free software that can be installed on a
proprietary operating systems are installed CDs with preoperative that suggest that I have sent me you know helps and millions of these people and they were interested in passing that 2 people engaging in engaging in promoting the adoption of dissemination of free software on very explicitly valuable forms of outreach because of course using Prosopis is a 1st step right but for the most part that's where our advocacy is not taking gone steps beyond just the dissemination of software more broadly in that way and
I have participated in entering review have been spreading the word order them documenting Get Firefox this is you do get ice was not was the variance version of Firefox and cute logo on and so it's a very kind words the only way to install as measles to just apt-get install it on your system from such as like a website that tells you to do that I all of these things get 5 about spreading the word of spreading the word about a free supper about you can install it it's been enormously effective in terms of spreading the word and increasing access to this free browser in this way and but don't pack firefox from the this from version with that some concepts something that is conceptually similar to to have the sacrifice coming is it exists at all far far less possible now all 3 of these I think you know these all parties and
outreach events and things like that Firefox a valuable forms of outreach because using free software is a necessary 1st step on but we shouldn't stop there and each of these cases that's exactly where I to the extent that I have engaged in this work have stopped and we need to focus on advocacy within our communities to ensure that users can take advantage of all of the 3 strategies the the both of these court to have of freedom all the 4 freedoms and we very rarely
the 2nd reason why I think that we've heard really privileged access over empowerment in terms of our in terms of our advocacy is that they're very often subtle social complements sometimes it will be possible but I'm going to have to
retreat a little bit into my mind it's a day job as an academic study increase offer free culture communities and I wanna touch a little bit on piece of work that i've which city uses the straddling the scratch this graph structures it's a it's a programming language which is spoken in small talk designed for kids and I think it's a it's a it's it's a it's regretful block-based bringing language feature search can make syntactical areas program problem or do you want the 1st time that are always right and scratch is also an online community where kids can share the programs that they used and then then and every piece of software released on the Scratch website is released under a free license under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike so that everyone in scratch can take someone else's program and that sort of offered by the unit interval
changes they can used in different ways no but 1 thing we've looked at and scratches when I is the sort of the criteria that caused the criteria associated with project being more assertive generative or and popular and so that tradeoff here is that I wanna talk
about is 1 that sort of explored my research which is a tradeoff between generatively which is to say the qualities of Scratch projects that make them more likely to be that sort of act on or any sort of remixed on and that's the 1st column here and there is
a series of there's a series of different things that we measured how 1 is for example how popular or high status the optimism in the community 1 is how cumulative the product is which is to say is that like a remix of a remixer remakes on and then the 3rd 1 to do without complexity adjectives but the important thing here is that along all
3 of these dimensions we find the qualities associated with increased generatively in the sense of the thing that the the the quality is associated with increased engagement and re-use the kind of empowerment we're trying to and provide a they were trying to sort of facilitate in the broader freeze over community but also scratch or all associated with with less are like that last original forms of meaning which is to say that the project we found the products are more
likely to be remixed if they are moderately complicated created by prominent users of humility but that each of those things are associated with less original forms of indexing in the story here is that the kinds of things that a designer could you right if you're designing a community or if you're sort of creating a project that the kinds of things that you you can do which will invite engagement are associated with some of our all associated with certain that they work by attracting people who are maybe less interested in changing things a lot were less than interest or less
able to change things like that very often there are compromises that we as designers to engage in that means that the the cost of attracting more people true engagement or empowerment meaning that that the nature of that engagement is right it's a real compromise on which is something which I've been able to show some sort
the 3rd kind of compromise is in terms of technological compromises in these common a bunch of different ways and we're very familiar with them already the most extreme
version of this is just in terms of the realization which is to say that freedom is simply compromise in the sense that it is violated completely on the user simply made and 3 people familiar with the concept of utilization to go released a device which came with free software running on it but it was locked down using essentially DRM so that users of the team although they had access to all the code they needed necessary to change the software on the device could they didn't have the keys like literally he is necessary to install the software on the device so that they could make it do something else you have access to all the code that you need to change it and you can see from this it's you know to utilization is the example when users have the rights under a license but no ability in a practical sense to exercise those rights in practice on and that this
business model right this technique of diffuse issues then the very popular more broadly pile of devices
all of which run nearly all of which run Linux in some form and various other pieces of free software and almost all of which are locked down in a way that that make them on modifiable at least without having to sort of attack and
compromise your device and we are succeeding in terms of spreading our stuff by spreading it in devices not like this are like your television that make realizing that freedom technologically impossible or at least extremely here's another
technological compromises on which is a little more subtle people move Wikipedias 0 Wikipedia 0 is a project launched by the Wikimedia Foundation which makes access to Wikipedia the free
version new users and large parts of the developing world they essentially make agreements with telecommunication providers in the developing world to say that when they did that people want access Wikipedia from their mobile devices that they will be charged for that so that it's free for that and no cost and and this is great in the sense that this means that you know that in the world's knowledge is accessible till you won't be as well as reflected in Wikipedia as really is accessible to huge numbers of people around the world and yet the nature of that nature of that access on that is is compromised because when we're thinking 0 1st launched initially there was no way to edit Wikipedia from all over the brain is like a very clear technological properties still is now the case that you can edit Wikipedia from all less but it is much harder and that some of that many of the features that this sort of many of the most active editors on Wikipedia you take advantage of to edit Wikipedia effectively are simply not available to users of mobile devices that mobile device that we have in our desire to spread access more widely in the case of we and also variable looking at it and we have decided to trade off his ability to engage in production as well the force who
served an answer to why comes down to what I call sort of 2nd order digital divides and there is a
great piece of work by Esther modify and Aaron job of the Northwestern University that come up again looks and that acts uh looks at the gender gap within Wikipedia so this is a uh gender equity you may have heard that the battery people contribute to Wikipedia are are male and this is then seen that community is a problem a very similar conversation that happening in this opportunity for uh for a very long time I can look at the ruling in sense that you know there's more to be done in many ways had that there will be
a harder time ensures work has actually suggested that that that have a big portion of the purchase of the gender gap at least in the context of the year actually come down to a skills gap that that if you that if you take into event the that an important variable that we haven't looked at is the fact that there are many people who many people who have access to a particular information good don't have the skills necessary to do it and Wikipedia's that have a nice example because contribute Wikipedia supposedly much easier than contributing to the of of the software the sensitivity to know at Pergamon languages just have to know how to proceed but make a change and yet those technical the technical skill gaps means that uh that that there's a meaning that large numbers of users on Wikipedia including many of these sort of the the other kinds of demographic gaps that the community cares about are actually keeping these people from being a part of good many people don't uh um until we address this this inequality in terms of this sort of skills not just having that stuff but also having the skills necessary to take advantage of of the of the of which is to say in because title of the skills of the in the in the context of resource for but it would certainly involve some level of programming the broader front inequality are going backwards continue in terms of computation right
the 5th and final reason why I think that you struggle to uh to we struggled to address empowerment 1 while succeeding in terms of action has to
do with them project life cycles here is a graph that shows the the number of people who were members of the deviance you know is this is not exactly the number of deviance developers of people that
a certain power members of the project and over time but it does capture but the correlates very strongly on to this on which you can see of course is that like many projects that the and had some kind of you know exponential
growth of integrated time lots and lots of people on during the project and then and over for a lot of reasons the and that growth slowed down in actually during period time would been developers felt they were going to cut off like new contributors like joining them all together comments and that that and and these sorts of lexical they're very common you see growth of project distances up to a certain point and then you often see that they change in the sense that the projects sort of solidify over time there's a group of people who were unable to work together they we have set of norms that we know that there are things like some groups that are actually in some other research that lots of free software and free culture projects actually become oligarchic in the sense that uh there's a small group of people present at the beginning whose interest begin to diverge from those of many of the membership functions and wikis variations of only the
thickness of the suffer projects as well on getting interaction
can be hard to some of these are good and some of this sometimes for good reasons the project has become more stable the product has become more widely used it's more important that we maintain sort of stability and in the project and some of these are clustered in the sense that people want to preserve their own power but in either case is we have projects that are but there is there there are life cycles that means that it becomes more difficult to contribute to projects as they grow older and larger and more established and that this and to the extent that free software has grown in this way this may mean that it is harder along many dimensions to contribute to many particular for projects and maybe to establish free supper project in general than it was at some period in the past fact and so that sort of leaves us
with the sort of final question what is it that we should do about that for answers from the 1st thing we could do is nothing of course and you can probably guess that that's not the position I'm going to argue for a and you guess that you would be right but on I I think it's not so obviously wrong that it's not worth addressing on because I realize like I I really do that empowerment it doesn't mean that everyone has to become program right on line and if you really believe that not everyone you don't 1 answer as well not everyone needs to be a programmer why should we care about engagement so why should we care about and how right everyone has and all the people that the with that that have this stuff don't want to you know that will want to be empowered and whether you're talking about why do you wanna go unenforced right and and but because after all right freedom of
the press right is another the freedom many people believe it doesn't mean that we all need to go start with right and if we say that not everyone's running a newspaper that like like that doesn't mean that the place is not free and that the manifesto frequently suggest that even if you can't program might be able to hire someone to program for for you and that's absolutely right on some of the important thing after balls not that everyone needs to be hacking on free software but everyone has the freedom to do it right so and it's the freedom to do it as opposed to the realization that that said I think it's hard to believe that you live in a country with a free press that there was no independent if there no independent set for very very
few were only certain kinds of people would say that a rich people nail people people world who ran papers would be hard to believe that that was free as long and I think that but I sort of think of I
I sort of think of empowerment in this sense about learning about programming as as kind of in terms of writing were literacy right many many users of free software on because they freeze result never considered changing their the pieces of that the Socrates something different no I certainly in terms of the comparison is sort of like this and although although it's important that the imagine a world in which everyone knew how to read but only a very small number of people how to right that seems like that would be a less than ideal world but it would be democratic and so that's right but that can be used to the extent that we think that that the software or technology is an important kind of literacy that is kind of the world that we live in now right so but but but that said that the end with the end result is not a world in which everyone is a professional programmer anymore than we teach everyone to right because we think it's important everyone become a journalist for novel straight on the important part is that that process be demystified enough that people feel that writing is something that they could do OMB and that it's important in so for the reason that I think it's important to teach people to read and write I think it's important to teach people to use software to at least understand how they would transcend their roles as consumers the reality is that learning to program really is empowering being able to change how your world works on yourself is empowering that empowerment is the promise of results and we should not be willing to treat only as a potential right now
in the 2nd sense in the in the 2nd sense in which I think we can address this gap the gap between our success in terms of access and success of the parliament is by compromised right sometimes we may simply have to choose we may have to sacrifice efficiency in various ways by for example dealing with you because I sometimes joke that like the new X is the least efficient operating system never sort of imagine we have to spend like all this time arguing with these people who are obviously wrong and I think
I think the the light and it is a group here obviously wrong right in that we have to go through this process of you know of negotiation which is not as easy as it could be right and thereby a a lot and that by sort of facilitating engagement of lots of users it means that we have to spend time dealing with sort of challenges the convincing people of things that we wouldn't have to do if we were to not be as open as or as a sort of allow and encourage people to be as in power in the sense of engaging in a project and then but the that that made in various ways mean we have to that we should compromise quality for example in order to promote engagement there are tough choices that we will have to make if we want to promote we want to make empowerment of users in the 1st quarter of all the same level of access on and the figuring out negotiate that is something which is tricky but it's something that I think that we need to we need to be willing to make such a compromise that we should be willing to the 3rd thing we can do is remove systematic barriers to participation in and we can uh have work in in
do this in various ways we worked megaprojects systematically more accessible to newcomers and we can reject unacceptable tradeoffs between axis empowerment of the the uh in in various ways so
for example lots of organizations have free suffering decisions have adopted adopted codes of conducts explicitly designed to make their project more welcoming to large numbers of people including people who are not participating before lots of conferences and organizations have adopted anti-harassment policies which systematically are trying to make is that make it clear that there that that that's systematic barriers to participation that exist in the past and should be should should be removed to allow more people to engage there are also
lots of ways in which we have promoted outreach more broadly so people familiar with how Ricci which an nonprofit which essentially uh funds for people to participate in bring up for supper development from groups of people historically this was originally the on average burden for women and promoted by sort of women's engagement as developers and contributors and canon project in our variety of different prosopopeia objects there are a series of ways and because of course economic inequality is 1 way but it is is 1 way in which lots of people are prevented from engaging there's a sense in which I grew up very privileged I have a computer at home I I was able to say I never took a computer science class from the development software development was something that I engaged in recreational because I didn't have to have for example job after
after school in high school on my head space to explore the ways in which to engage and existing and there are now a series of projects which are making which are in various ways making it possible for people who have historically not been able to contribute to free software for lots of systematic and economic reasons to be able to do so on average is 1 example of a project which is doing that very effectively but the 4th what I think is
probably the single most important thing we can do to address this gap between axis and empowerment is basically right education and technology education and there's a bit of a whole bunch of ways in which this happens
I have over the last 2 years than running a series of projects called the computer that the problem of computing the community besides workshops a series of efforts to it said basically teach absolute newcomers with no background at all how to program impact on how to hold distance from where the eyes and ask and answer questions that they have come about online communities that they are participating in the culture and we suffer communities in particular but really really anything more broadly we have we have lot 2 100 50 people had program using a curriculum which is available online and you check it out from the community has workshops on and have explicitly decided not just to teach people to engage in in sort of detector and software which they can use really sort of take advantage of
that often changes in various ways on if you make it a goal to to spread it to give people the tools right if there are we've been oversubscribed by a factor of almost 100 per cent every time we tried to do this for teaching 100 people at times twice a year on the curriculum has been picked up and for teaching similar assertive and learning in python improving workshops more broadly on in various ways from open hatch is
another project which is very active in this in a way that I think is actually really smart they're open hatch has a series of events which they have which are running in which you can run the curriculum is online which are designed to teach people who are already participants industry already uses of preoperative software how to contribute but they for example people how to use get so that the social processes in projects that you'll at submitting patches or engaging in male in a male and 1
on there there are this is the attack on free software right on that that that should become after our install free software but that historically we really not usually to I think that the most important thing to realize is that I
think that is that is that although that you know you those are a series of ideas of things that we
can do that I think the important thing to realize is that if we take this really seriously we make engagement with you know sort of promoting empowerment 1st were all the same way that we have made using free software and more access to free software for survival in the past we can do much better on
my 1st uh I was
talking about the idea for this talk to Walter Bender at uh this variable Sugar Labs which is a project connected to the 1 up child predator comes from that and its interface for kids today the use of free suffer told to use the sort of operating system and he served I had a very inspiring sort of approach that this is a this is a program called kernel at 1 of the proper what based languages like scratch where kids can be used to program make their own programs which itself is kind of cool because now we have a piece of educational software that is not just uh that you can use to use your computer to actually use to program but the coolest thing about that is that is that this lives up to an old old PC goal which is that for every in this program there's a view source but it's right up in the corner and if you press on it and you will see
the source code to the program that you're actually running not only can you write your own programs here but you can actually pass that his response and you can see the Python code that implements this kernel learning you can change that code to make it work in a different way right from I they think they have at least in the context of Turtle art and to some extent in sugar more probably made engagement empowerment something which is a first-order that is not enough that every it's not just that everyone will have access to this 1st thing can change if there's a bottom right interface which allows you to see and to begin changing the software that you are using the and of course the inspiring part is not just is that it not just that this
exists people are taking advantage of of Walter told me that during the last release of sugar a majority of the patches that went into the into sugar to the last release of sugar actually came from kids and kids many of them in the of i where the largest number of you got who are using this software and you are changing the software to fix bugs to make it work in different ways but if we do this if we start and designer stuff with the golden but with the goal of empowerment that is as important in central interactions and principles as well as important interactions of it is in our pencils we can make real progress
and it falls on last straight people with people like us in this room the entities of resolver to address this we you know you run and contribute to influence you know many of the most successful and influential
3 suffer projects and what's at stake here is more than the particular a particular project of the broader because when people realize that we can they can change the technology the technological world and when they are willing and able to do with variable to take control of their experience in a way that is profoundly powerful the potential is there and can be realized in ways that suggested and and the amounts of the ways that I haven't and if we try you know it you workers are important and thanks for letting the thank you so that is the size of sample questions natural the already the question that right of right so question is the question is about was sort of like how much should 1 have to learn to be empowered right on that and is it you know in terms of system programming a simple scripting something like this I think for me so the analogy that I keep coming back to this this idea of writing versus like writing verses writing bring programming right we don't insist that like I I don't think it would be reasonable to to insist that everyone should be a professional journalist a writer of what I think it's important everyone be able to you know via system parameter be able to design the chips that run on their computers and I think that the question is which point you think that that the goal should be to demystify programming and to put people in a position where they believe that they can they that they understand how they could change the computer to make it work more difficult than in in various ways within my own work and I teach uh I like teaching in part because I think that you can it's very easy to show that you use Python to do anything from building like working graphical applications to you I can point to a real websites that people use all the time you know Instagram input on that kind of thing and or you know and then people can begin to be feel like changing things right right of 1st so I had I think it's an open question I think something that will sort of figure out on but that's how I sort of engagement the the yeah so the question is should empowerment also involve documentation and I think the answer is absolutely yes I think that that I mean for me I think of the that you know I'm also very active in the Wikimedia community in wikipedia and i see i see work in that space as basically falling short in exactly the same way I have a look at I can give the version of this talk which is like Conformant but on power which is directly about you know which medium which comes down to the documentation I think that in so far as the documentation is an important part of the way in which we experience the software or experience the world understands off from the world that through the ability to engage in that also becomes important there are lots of ways to become engaged in lots of ways to sort of transcend 1 rules such as a consumer of software were information goods and the documentation is 1 and great but yet I'm not going to repeat the whole thing but I think that that point was that they had been encouraging did designing systems encouraging people to be willing to take risks and and is a type of compromise that we should be willing to make in order to promote engagement and empowerment and the because of our result from a roughly and a lot of that's a great point from which limited take only where people moving into little that OK if we look at great sold switch over to the next because
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Metadaten

Formale Metadaten

Titel Access Without Empowerment
Serientitel FrOSCon 2015
Teil 38
Anzahl der Teile 80
Autor Hill, Benjamin Mako
Lizenz CC-Namensnennung 3.0 Unported:
Sie dürfen das Werk bzw. den Inhalt zu jedem legalen Zweck nutzen, verändern und in unveränderter oder veränderter Form vervielfältigen, verbreiten und öffentlich zugänglich machen, sofern Sie den Namen des Autors/Rechteinhabers in der von ihm festgelegten Weise nennen.
DOI 10.5446/19554
Herausgeber Free and Open Source software Conference (FrOSCon) e.V.
Erscheinungsjahr 2015
Sprache Englisch

Inhaltliche Metadaten

Fachgebiet Informatik
Abstract The free software movement has twin goals: promoting access to software through users' freedom to share, and empowering users by giving them control over their technology. For all our movement's success, we have been much more successful at the former. I will use data from free software and from several related movements to explain why promoting empowerment is systematically more difficult than promoting access and I will explore how our movement might address the second challenge in the future. Benjamin Mako Hill

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