Hijacking the World (1998)

Hijacking the World: The Dark Side of Microsoft (Roberto Di Cosmo and Dominique Nora; 1998), concluding paragraph:

The Linux adventure, for example, brings to mind three words that you are familiar with: liberty, equality, fraternity. But the Microsoft adventure, as you have probably understood by now, presents a society that, in my eyes, would be closer to servitude, inequity, feudalism. Computers are now giving us the possibility of drastically changing the way we live our daily lives. But with this opportunity, there is no such thing as a free lunch: the only way you will find anything in this information society is if you bring it yourself. If we continue letting Microsoft build it, it may end up looking like a nightmare. It is therefore up to us to choose whether this revolution should lead to a technological dark age dominated by a handful of feudal lords who take control of the means of creating and transmitting information to collect taxes each time we communicate with each other. Or, if we would rather live an open and modern world, built around democracy and decentralization, where the free flow of information allows us to benefit from the huge potential of borderless cooperation and shared knowledge.

17+ years later, Microsoft is not as singularly threatening and dominant and uses Linux extensively and has released lots of software under free licenses. But, substitute “knowledge commons” or more narrowly “software freedom” for “Linux” and “intellectual property” or “freedom infringing industries” or more narrowly “proprietary software and services vendors” for “Microsoft” and the paragraph is as true as ever.

The knowledge commons adventure, for example, brings to mind three words that you are familiar with: liberty, equality, fraternity. But the intellectual property adventure, as you have probably understood by now, presents a society that, in my eyes, would be closer to servitude, inequity, feudalism. Computers are now giving us the possibility of drastically changing the way we live our daily lives. But with this opportunity, there is no such thing as a free lunch: the only way you will find anything in this information society is if you bring it yourself. If we continue letting freedom infringing industries build it, it may end up looking like a nightmare. It is therefore up to us to choose whether this revolution should lead to a technological dark age dominated by a handful of feudal lords who take control of the means of creating and transmitting information to collect taxes each time we communicate with each other. Or, if we would rather live an open and modern world, built around democracy and decentralization, where the free flow of information allows us to benefit from the huge potential of borderless cooperation and shared knowledge.

(Words in bold changed, links added.)

[off-topic] How curious that you post about “liberty, equality, fraternity” just as I was on the plane moving to Paris (I start on my new job here tomorrow!) :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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