Friday, September 14, 2007

Eco-Groups and FSF Meld - Freedom and Greenery for All

Tree hit free this week; several environmental groups (the Green Party, New Internationalist, Friends of the Earth International, and People and Planet) signed a statement with the Free Software Foundation (FSF) to promote their common interests. You may not have heard of the FSF but you are almost certainly affected by them; their products compose most of GNU/Linux, a popular alternative operating system used to host web servers and the like.

The statement outlines a two point plan (1) reject Microsoft's Vista operating system, and (2) encourage the adoption and use of free software. From the E-standpoint, point one is obvious - the porcine hardware requirements of Microsoft Windows Vista are well known, with some surmising that a Vista upgrade layer will be visible in landfills in the year to come. Bad Vista? No question.

The second point - espousing the earthly delights of adopting free software - is more esoteric, implying that freedom is akin to eco-friendliness. There's a few good ideas here - prolonged dependence on exclusive tools and technologies is not sustainable, monopolies are antithetical to grassroots social change, globalization is not all bad - but it's a bit long-armed. When I interviewed Richard Stallman, the famed founder of the FSF, he agreed, suggesting that distinctions are useful between the the environmental and free software movements; the world is far too complex to be cast as a single issue.

It's a interesting point - it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking your issues, green or no, are as important for everybody. Placing them in a community framework helps to build strength, and is commonly seen with items such as fair trade and labor practices in association with the environmental movement. Great to have another ally. :: FSF :: New Statesman

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