Christopher Lemmer Webber is a user on You can follow them or interact with them if you have an account anywhere in the fediverse. If you don't, you can sign up here.

@baldur I get frustrated with the implication that proprietary software is the only software that should be paid for, which this article seems to suggest. You can, and should, pay for and financially support FOSS when you are able.

Proprietary software isn't the only software that needs resources. And I don't believe that coercion is the only reason you should pay... paying when you don't have to is still worthwhile.

@cwebber The problem is that most FOSS doesn't offer the same sort of easily reasoned about business transaction that closed source generally does.

Rebus's sister company Pressbooks does (GPLed software, pay for hosting) so I know its done, but most FOSS doesn't offer it.

Donating or paying a Patreon for a project is contingent on a kind of customer-creator relationship that a lot of people and businesses don't want to enter.

@baldur I agree with that criticism, but I think that just because we have a well established capitalist route for proprietary software, that's not the only route to funding community oriented FOSS. I currently donate monthly to several FOSS projects and feel like I get my money's worth out of it.

But I do think that there are projects that need funding and aren't getting it. I've thought about establishing a "FOSS R&D lab" as a path forward.

Christopher Lemmer Webber @cwebber

@baldur Notably, a lot of the best FOSS software was written when it was paid for: GNU's glory days, laying the infrastructure for a huge amount of tooling that people use, used to be funded by the FSF directly.

IMO one of the biggest mistakes the FSF has made was to stop funding the development of new and interesting software through GNU. I'd like to see a return to that. I'm not really the right person to organize it, I guess.

· Web · 1 · 7

@cwebber I think it's happening a bit in the open education space at least. The Mellon and Hewlett foundations fund a lot of interesting open source work.

@baldur Years ago David Crossland tried to make this argument to me, that the FSF's decision to shift away from funding free software directly was its biggest mistake, and I disagreed with him. Now I strongly agree. I think it's no coincidence that the most interesting GNU stuff happened during that time, and that the decline of copyleft also started after too. We don't have a general R&D lab focused on user freedom. We should have one, tho maybe the FSF isn't the right fit, not sure what is

@cwebber @baldur as both an end-user and a developer, i heartily agree that we need more ways to support the work economically. stuff like patreon seems like it's moved the situation forward some, but it's nowhere near adequate to the need (and though i use liberapay where i can, just opening up the patronage model a bit is also insufficient to the problem).

@cwebber @baldur what we really need are free culture / free software / democratic / cooperatively-governed institutions and systems with the economic heft to a) make this stuff a viable career path, and b) counterbalance the interests of the monopoly-seeking megacorps.

(on that front, it's kind of a shame academia has so willingly and thoroughly hollowed itself out into a weird echo of the corporate systems it now exists purely to serve.)

@cwebber @baldur ...anyway, start that R&D lab and you'll probably get my 5 bucks a month.

@bthall my sense is that, at least in the US, colleges and universities are increasingly run as businesses and for the benefit of business culture, which tends to undermine the ways they could act as a real economic counterweight to business control of the software economy or a safe-haven for innovation in free software.

i'm pretty far from academic life these days; i could be full of shit.

@baldur Note that AMS disagrees with my representation of old GNU and FSF history. I may have it wrong, I wasn't there.

@cwebber @baldur
> We don't have a general R&D lab focused on user freedom.

I love that idea. What are similar labs? You have something in mind, and I want to see what that looks like.

@maiki @baldur Inria is an example research lab, and they do many interesting things, but are mostly science'y oriented with software freedom as a side effect IIUC. It would be good to have something similar, but with addressing critical software freedom needs as the primary target.