Storytelling, Technology and Activism.

Guy West(gywst)

The plot

Technology and Freedom at MIT.

Civil Liberties

  1. Privacy
  2. Creativity

The right to be paranoid

Philip R. Zimmermann created Pretty Good Privacy, an email encryption software package. Originally designed as a human rights tool, PGP was published for free on the Internet in 1991. This made Zimmermann the target of a three-year criminal investigation, because the government held that US export restrictions for cryptographic software were violated when PGP spread worldwide.

The price of religion

Information wants to be free.

Peter Samson, Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, 1959

Free as in freedom or as in Free Trade?

Concepts of Freedom

The dotCommunist Manifesto

A Spectre is haunting multinational capitalism - the spectre of free information. All the powers of 'globalism' have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcize this spectre: Microsoft and Disney, the World Trade Organization, the United States Congress and the European Commission.

Prof. Eben Moglen:

Computer source code is not a commodity

In the 1960s and 1970s, software was not considered to be a product but rather an add-on the mainframe vendors gave to their customers to use the computers at all. In that culture, programmers and developers frequently shared their software freely among each other.

used and abused

Richard Stallman was working on a Lisp interpreter. Symbolics asked to use the Lisp interpreter, and Stallman agreed to supply them with a public domain version of his work. Symbolics improved the Lisp interpreter, but when Stallman wanted access to the improvements that Symbolics had made to his interpreter, they refused.

Defending the principles of hackerism

Richard Stallman The Last of the Hackers, who vowed to defend the principles of hackerism to the bitter end. Remained at MIT until there was no one to eat Chinese food with.

Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.


A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular. The term is often misused in a pejorative context, where cracker would be the correct term. See also: cracker.

Requests for Comments 1392

hacker ethic: n.

  1. The belief that information-sharing is a powerful positive good, and that it is an ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by writing open-source code and facilitating access to information and to computing resources wherever possible.

hacker ethic: n.

  1. The belief that system-cracking for fun and exploration is ethically OK as long as the cracker commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of confidentiality.

How To Become A Hacker

Eric Steven Raymond

How To Become A Hacker

How To Become A Hacker

How To Become A Hacker

Frustration leads to action

Stallman wants to create a complete operating system - called GNU based on his free software concept, meaning that users are allowed to copy, modify and redistribute it.

On January 5, 1984, Stallman quit his job at MIT so that they could not claim ownership and interfere with distributing GNU as free software.

Copyleft and GPL

The purpose of the GPL (GNU General Public License) is to grant the user rights to copy, modify, and redistribute programs (normally prohibited by copyright), and to ensure that those rights are preserved in derivative works via a copyleft mechanism.

GPL is Freedom

In reality the ‘free' in free software means that the source code has been liberated and anybody may copy and compile it, but that does not exclude payment.

Free as Free Speech, not Free Beer.

Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer.
Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.

Four freedoms of Free software: (1)

Four freedoms of Free software: (2)

Linux: Participatory programming

Linus Torvalds, Finnish university student, while attending the University of Helsinki initially wrote the Linux operating system as a hobby. Immediately, thousands of developers around the world participated in the development of Linux.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Gift economy vs. Market economy

Free Software vs. Open Source

The fundamental difference between the two movements is in their values, their ways of looking at the world. For the Open Source movement, the issue of whether software should be open source is a practical question, not an ethical one. As one person put it, Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement.

Q: What is Hacktivismo?

A: Hacktivismo is a special operations group sponsored by the CULT OF THE DEAD COW (cDc). We view access to information as a basic human right. We are also interested in keeping the Internet free of state-sponsored censorship and corporate chicanery so all opinions can be heard.

Open publishing is the same as free software.

They're both (r)evolutionary responses to the privatisation of information by multinational monopolies. For software it's Microsoft. For publishing it's CNN. For both software and publishing it's AOL Time Warner.

Matthew Arnison hacks Free software

Matthew Arnison takes out the capitalist sting:

Free software is a gift to humanity. If you have a piece of free software, you can give it to someone else for free. You can charge for free software, but once someone else has a copy, they can give away as many copies as they like. So free software often comes at no charge. Let's call it free beer. But this alone is not free software. Free software is also free as in free speech, not just free beer.

News is a commodity

Media: viewers are stupid.

Reality TV
In their eyes the total creative potential of the audience is Funniest Home Videos. Creative people do not buy more stuff, they make their own. This is a problem for media multinationals. They do not trust their audience to be creative. It might be bad for profits, bad for executive salaries.
...The audience doesn't trust the corporate media either.

Two-way Web

Tim Berners-Lee's (invented the WWW) book, Weaving the Web mentions that the original incarnation of the web browser could both read and write HTML. The web, as he envisioned it, was a read-write medium, not a read-only medium. But, most of the popular browsers that emerged focused on reading, not writing.

Then the internet was added to the global communications pool.

If you can read the internet, you can also write to it. If someone else has told a story on the internet, you can choose to hear it. Information flows between the net and other communication systems: the phone, the TV, the radio and newspapers, forming a much more balanced web of information transfer.

Open Publishing is Participatory Media

Open publishing means that the process of creating news is transparent to the readers. They can contribute a story and see it instantly appear in the pool of stories publicly available.

Minimum editorial

Those stories are filtered as little as possible to help the readers find the stories they want. Readers can see editorial decisions being made by others. They can see how to get involved and help make editorial decisions.

You can improve.

If they can think of a better way for the software to help shape editorial decisions, they can copy the software because it is free and change it and start their own site. If they want to redistribute the news, they can, preferably on an open publishing site.

Linus's Law

Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.

Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Arnison's Law

Given enough eyeballs, problematic content is shallow. (sorry in Hebrew)


Comments are an unseparateable part of the article.


When you have problematic content with comments (unseparateable!), people will react and interact with it.Comments help dialectics, they clarify issues.

Editorial is hierarchy

Indymedia doesn't have editors, but moderators.

Criticizing lack of editorial control

...the Indymedia effort has produced some admirable results. But it has an uneven track record in ways that make traditional journalists uncomfortable, in large part due to a lack of editorial supervision.

Dan Gillmor, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People

Google News removed Indymedia

The Google News site removed Indymedia stories from its listings, the search company says, because of concerns about the deliberate lack of centralized editorial control over what individual contributors to the site posted there.

Dan Gillmor, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People


Can absolute editorial freedom result in anything but chaos? Yes, when it's in a Wiki. Dan Gillmor, We the Media

A Wiki is a website that allows users to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows anyone to edit the content. Wiki also refers to the collaborative software used to create such a website.


Wikipedia, the free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

What are Blogs?

A weblog, or blog, is a personal journal on the web. Weblogs express as many different subjects and opinions as there are people writing them. Some blogs are highly influential and have enormous readership while others are primarily intended for a close circle of family and friends.

RSS: Really Simple Syndication Summary


Podcasting is the practice of making audio files available online in a way that allows software to automatically detect new files and download them. Most podcasts are MP3 files distributed through RSS, but other formats and other types of files, such as video, can also be podcasted.

Other forms of Social software.

New Media

New media usually refers to a group of relatively recent mass media based on new information technology. Most frequently the label would be understood to include the Internet and World Wide Web, video games and interactive media, CD-ROM and other forms of multimedia popular from the 1990s on.

The Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.

Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler, Ora Lassila, The Semantic Web, Scientific American, May 2001


A final thought from the man who started it all.

Richard M. Stallman:

The whole GNU project is really one big hack, its one big act of subversive playful cleverness to change society for the better, because I am only interested in changing society for the better, but in a clever way.

Revolution OS (2001) Directed by J.T.S. Moore