Pressed to sum-up Open Source values in a very few words, I fall back on something I used to say years ago at Rice University, which had just 2,600 students but had to match-up against schools with 30-40,000 students or more:
There’s not enough us to afford a them.
What does this mean in practice? It means this planet is dieing, and everything else is trivia. Iraq is trivia. Immigration is trivia. Budgets are trivia. Gasing up your car is trivia. Nearly all the issues you think are important are in fact trivia.
This planet is dieing, and we need everyone pulling in one direction if we are to have a prayer of saving it. That’s not just An Inconvenient Truth.
The title is a joke. It is in fact the Central Truth of our time, the assurance that yes, indeed, we are all to be executed in the morning. Along with your spouse and your kids and your dog and your cat. Everyone.
Anyone who doesn’t get that, who wants to lose themselves in trivial issues, is objectively on the side of planetary genocide.
So what does this mean, practically?
The fact is that this medium, when used to its full potential, can
connect us in new ways, can enable us to cooperate in new ways, can
spur the innovations we need, as a species, if the lives of our
grandchildren are to have any meaning.
But we can no longer afford to wait, and waste ourselves in trivial
issues. Who rules Iraq? Trivial. Who rules Israel? Trivial. Who rules
America? The name on that White House door is trivial.
The only thing that matters is what we are all doing, today, together,
to solve our common crisis. Anything which gets in the way of that is
wrong. Anything which assists in that effort is right.
The values of this medium – connectivity, transparency, consensus –
these are the only values that can lead to breakthroughs. Conflict won’t do it. What will do it are the
values of the academy. These are the values of every successful
business. These are the values of successful nations. These are the
values of successful friendships, of successful marriages, and of a
successful international policy.
These are the values that must drive us forward.
Everyone deserves as many bits as they can get, for as little money as
possible. Everyone deserves as much computing power as the market can
provide, at the smallest price the market can provide, so they can
learn, so they can teach, so they can invent, so they can collaborate,
so we can work together and save this planet.
Our ecosystem is out of control. Our grasslands are becoming deserts,
our seas are rising, and every day death comes closer to our species.
What is it about this you don’t understand?
If you don’t understand, if you insist on having a them, then at least get out of the way, and let the rest of us work.
There aren’t enough us to afford a them, or to afford anyone who believes in a them. Us to them – drop dead.
My first political science teacher at Rice, Dr. Gilbert Cuthbertson,
taught that you could understand politics through a simple equation –
myth x values = power. The story you believe and the the values that
are derived from that story are what drive power.
Political myths are sometimes true. The values they impart to power are what count.