Michael Sparks & Whence GNU?
The stuff about the conceptual origins of Kamaelia is especially fascinating:
it’s also inspired by a naive engineers view of biology. In animals we have 2 main communication systems which allow the billions of cells (which don’t know of each others existance) to operate as whole. We have the neural system (which Kamaelia’s core - Axon - deliberately alludes to) which can be viewed as the brain’s main (or most obvious) way of controlling the body. The other main system the body has of communication is the hormonal system which provides essentially mechanisms to say “starvation mode, conserve energy”, “horny mode, reproduce”, “pregnant mode”, and so on. This is much slower acting, but provides global useful information.
He also echos Tom Lord’s ideas about software freedom being a user-facing feature, the way it is in Emacs, and from the little I know about Kamaelia, it seems likely to deliver this eventually:
An eventual aim would include a generic application as putting the same sort of power as the spreadsheet does for the average user into the average users hands but for generic applications using multimedia, and network systems. This is some time off however!
Pretty much the only thing Michael and I disagree on is his “Open Source” philosophy, since I prefer that of “Software Freedom.” (and we’ve (well, I have, at least) had fun chatting this over a lot on the Backstage list :-)
Michael has some thoughtful things to say about the need for the Affero GPLv3 (Part 2 page 4 and page 5) (finally released today!) although he doesn’t mention it. I hope he’ll write some more about it at some point.
He does mention the Google superior privately help anti-spam technology, and recently made some of his own using Kamaelia :-) And Michaels blogs has some thoughtful posts too, like this one on DRM vis-a-vis GPL. (Although there’s lots to discuss there too)
Also, I often wonder how software engineers come to decided their position on software freedom movement, so this part of the interview was really interesting to me too:
After reading the GNU manifesto however, I personally came down heavily on the side of the BSD license. Developers do have a choice in our society (rightly or wrongly) on how (or if) they charge for their services.
Its a shame that the old GNU manifesto wasn’t persuasive. Richard’s writing errs towards clarity rather than rhetoric, and in doing so becomes less persuasive but more useful when you have been convinced, in my experience.
Perhaps a new manifesto should/could be written, since the challenges faced by the GNU project are much different today. Tom Lord wrote this summer:
Proposal: The GNU project needs a newly revitalized, specific, principled, technical agenda. That is to say that the project needs a statement of what it aims to achieve in terms of specific technical objectives, and an explanation of why the principles of software freedom make those objectives worth achieving. With such a statement, it will begin to be possible to work on organizing to achieve the objectives.
Maybe the FSF is more appropriate than the GNU project, though, with its 3 full time paid-up campaigns managers. Perhaps the FSF could have a manifesto, meant to be more persuasive about why software should be free-as-in-freedom, and why its worth joing them as an associate member. Perhaps it shouldn’t be primarily text, but done in video, given how much milage Creative Commons got from its “manifesto video” when it launched, and how much the “viral is everything” concept was touted at the Silicon Valley in Cambridge event last week.
(Grabbing the link for the GNU Manifesto, I noticed that the Portuguese translation is high up the rankings for some reason. Must be popular in Brasil ;-)
The Michael Sparks & Whence GNU? by David Crossland, except the quotations and unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.