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Free Software as a Social Movement

Since the early 50's the “Western world” has seen a progressive and exponential growth in the need for computerization. During the course of the last decades hardware and software have become available to an ever greater number of people, but by the end of the 70's software development began a rapid and extensive phase of privatization, passing from what we would now call “open source standards” to proprietary software licenses. In my dissertation I look at the historical developments of software, particularly to the Free Software Foundation. Headed by the radical and charismatic Richard Stallman, the FSF has become the flagship for the free software movement, a social movement in its own right. To this movement, the privatization of software is not simply a technological issue or a competitive move to a market economy, but it is a violation of basic human rights. The FSM compares software code to speech, which ought to be free and available for everyone. I also take into consideration the differences between the free software movement and the open source movement, more often than not mistakenly considered the same. I then move on to examine the goals achieved by free and open source software advocates in developing countries, such as India and Cambodia, but especially in South America, where many countries are converting their national administration to open standard software. Finally I examine the moves towards promoting free software use in Italy, analyzing the Caro Candidato movement sponsored by AsSoLi (Associazione per il Software Libero), and in the EU with the Free Software Pact, trying to provide concrete examples of the efficiency of open source centered systems, like the school system of the province of Bolzano.

Mostra/Nascondi contenuto.
Introduction Definitions This paper is about the Free Software Movement. As in any other study on free software, it is important to carefully establish certain terms. When we talk about software, of any kind, we’re first of all talking about code. Code is a set of instructions written in a programming language by software programmers. It is the instructions with which a program is able to function. Source code is the code that creates and defines the software. Code is written in a language understandable by humans, a set of instructions based on a logical propositions, connectives and conjunctions. When we refer to software as free, we intend that the code is free, or rather that the users are free to see and touch (modify) the code. Needless to say, if you modify the code, you obviously modify the applicability of the software. This capacity to modify code lays at the base of the free software philosophy. It allows users to use software and modify it to meet their needs. Proprietary software is quite the opposite. Software producers claim copyright on their code to prevent users from modifying it, and release it in binary, a language which is only readable by a computer, giving them complete control of who does what with their software. As Russo point outs, Picasa doesn’t produce its software in Bengali, spoken by 189 million people, nor does it give a Bengali speaking programmer the possibility to modify the code to meet the needs of 1 his people. According to the Free Software Movement’s philosophy, this aspect is extremely unethical, keeping more disadvantaged individuals from improving their conditions by withholding the basic technological tools, which are essential to their empowerment. The last definition is open source software. Open source is derivative of free software. Its advocates call for a code sharing method of software building, while shedding any political or social connotations deriving form the word free. We will see in the paper that the two movements are often considered equivalent, but whereas the 1 Antonio J. Russo, Le Rôle de l'État dans la Constitution des Positions Dominantes dans le Secteur Informatique, Mars, 2008 3

Laurea liv.I

Facoltà: Sociologia

Autore: Marco Cazzola Contatta »

Composta da 37 pagine.

 

Questa tesi ha raggiunto 128 click dal 25/01/2011.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.