I enjoyed Richard Stallman’s talk on Copyright vs Community in the Age of Computer Networks in Auckland on Friday. Nix has gazumped me, her post and the links provided well capture the way in which rms unwrapped his thinking for the audience. I much admired the way in which complex ideas were simplified and framed in historical, legal, economic, political and societal contexts to maximise the connections made. Stallman must have given this presentation many times before, yet apart from a sense that none of the questions asked at the end of the session challenged what he had heard before, he was persuasively passionate in his delivery. Powerful thinking and provocative ideas were shared in a way that made them available for all.
While rms explained that sharing is the basis of society I was struck by the alignment of this insight with our MoE's identification of the key competencies as the basis for learning what it is to be human ... all that: thinking, making meaning from language symbols and text, managing self, participating and contributing and relating to others.
Whilst Stallman calls for “sharing” , in New Zealand schools we identify “relating to others” and “participating and contributing” as worthy
But listening to our current arguments over copyright, DRM, A2K makes me suspect that many of us no longer understand what sharing might be .... probably because we have unconsciously adopted the thinking of consumerism and business ... we can only imagine living in a society predicated upon consumption and the accumulation of personal advantage/ wealth.
That we can no longer imagine how sharing could or should be the basis of what it is to be human ... is pretty frightening
And it doesn’t surprise me that Illich was alert to this
And I think Gatto gets close to the same analysis in the context of schools
And while rms was taking about what it took for something to be free The Four Freedoms - “free as in speech, not free as in beer” I was thinking about what it means to be free to learn in the context of the different ways we design for learning in libraries, museums and schools.
It is interesting to think about how learning available in a library or museum is different from the learning available in school
It becomes more interesting when we do this in the context of learning that respects the learner’s freedom ....
... especially when we frame the freedoms a learner must have through Stallman’s The four freedoms
We believe that there are 4 essential freedoms that a software user must have:
Freedom 1: The freedom to study the program’s source code to learn how it works and make changes to it. You need access to the source code to do this.
Freedom 2: The freedom to help neighbour, by being able to distribute copies of the software.
Freedom 3: The freedom to contribute to community by being able to give away your modified versions of the software.
And Gatto’s analysis of libraries and schools in A Confederacy of Dunces is a great start to this imagining ....