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Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

FOSS folks tend to view empowerment as a question of whether or not I can access that code/server and modify how it functions. That is empowerment/freedom.

But for non technical folk, if such things are required, they then become a BARRIER to empowerment and freedom.

When it comes to software, I am far more concerned with empowering people to make meaningful change in their communities than I am with providing them with FOSS software.

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@dorian They can only make meaningful change in the community if they are in some sense "in control" of the software and its source code. If a corporation is running the software then it's highly likely that the community is not in control of its own destiny. Many times we've seen corporations toss communities aside once they are deemed to be no longer profitable.

However we can imagine viable systems which have an institution-like component such as a guild or coop which remains in line with the interests of the community in a symbiotic manner. This would go beyond the usual free software definition. Something like a viable systems model plus GNU manifesto hybrid.

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@dorian to be clear, you don’t have to be non techy to think that free and open source software is lackluster in user experience. I am very technology savvy, but I have to spend more time customizing free and open source software just to get it to do basic things that proprietary software just automatically does with no hastle. Developers assume we have just as much free time as they do. That is privilege

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@blindscribe indeed! I’m also pretty techy and think FOSS is a poor user experience. I recently started exploring the fish shell and am realizing how many shells are just bad to use for….no good reason.

There’s also a level of, devs just don’t need the same free time to configure the tools. If you made the tool, you don’t have to spend and bunch of free time reading documentation to learn how it works, you already know.

I think that’s closely related to the ivory tower history of the free software movement. Too many advocates have just never bother to care about use cases that weren’t theirs, and refused to make these things useful in a framework outside of their little niche.

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@dorian there is also this angle to open source software that I thought it was really interesting. That it is basically just anothercapitalism like structure https://cassolotl.medium.com/on-foss-as-a-capitalism-like-structure-baf89973c6a1

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@dorian It's a bit more nuanced.

For technical folks, the ability to view and modify the code is empowering as you describe.

For non-technical folks, the empowerment and freedom are in the form of ability to *ask a friendly tech folk* to read/review/modify the code for them. That may be someone in the family, a neighbor, or a local programmer. They may or may not want something in exchange.

The point is to enable local communities and markets to form around software.

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@dorian In this sense, software freedom is analogous to "right to repair" in hardware space.

The point of RtR isn't to get everyone to learn how to fix their electronics. The point is to make it possible for *some* folks to repair electronics, at which point they can do it for their friends, or start repair shops and do it for their community, as regular small business. Again, creating local markets - instead of having everything controlled by a multinational megacorp.

@temporal @dorian Or even just the ability to get the software from a source that can be trusted not to be actively hostile to the users.

the fact that the software itself is FOSS isn't by any mean enough for this to happen, but it's necessary to enable an environment where this can be done to any reasonable extent.

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@temporal @dorian having to trust someone else and ask them to do something for you is not empowering. to some degree, trusting the neigbor with your private data is even worse, more dangerous and less empowering than trusting a corporation.

then there is trusting the entire planet’s worth of hackers with your computer that’s got its bonnet hanging open.

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@zens
There's certainly a dialectic between the impersonal power of a massive company and the personal power of your friend, neighbour, local shopkeeper, major landowner etc.

But the power of the huge corporation can also be wielded by those with personal relationships to, and power over you, through all sorts of means.
@temporal @dorian

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@pettter @temporal @dorian you’re right; no matter what you do, there is some kind of power relationship. and while being able to read and modify code is power for some people; we need to recognise thay it is not automatically empowering, and not the only thing that is empowering.

for some people, underhoused people,perhaps, empowering technology is being able to access services via a $50 android. it might be closed source and surveiling them.

Musings on empowering technology/FOSS 

@pettter @temporal @dorian but for them, being able to view and modify the code is not the most important consideration

would youagree with the notion that, if you don't know how to code, then you deserve to be abused by those who do?
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