Technology doesn’t solve anything. It’s a mechanism for leverage.

When we grant that power freely, without thought to the way that leverage will be applied by we abdicate our responsibility as technologists.

Sometimes this is done due to coercion (We gotta eat!) but sometimes it is done for ego (People won’t adopt my project if it’s not MIT!)

This is why it’s so important for us to consider alternative licensing models.

, (Like MIT) is powerful, in that it grants optionality quite broadly.

, (Like the GP) tempers that, in that it requires re-contributing some portion back to the commons.

intends to create maximum optionality for non-malicious actors.

prioritizes sustainability through mutually beneficial, enthusiastically consensual relationships.

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It is both reductionist and limiting to view these initiatives as being in competition.

They are complementary, but may not always be interoperable.

For example, an license May require downstream projects to add usage restrictions, which would make it “not open source”

A project may require licensors or distributors to pay fees, which would violate principles.

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My personal opinion is that these and licenses are best applied to the “rod” that connects the consumer of the software to it’s producer in order to generate leverage.

Let’s define some terms:

A consumer is anyone who interacts with, derives benefits, or incurs cost.

A producer is anyone who provides time, IP, data, or other assets for others.

Leverage is the economic value being created or captured.

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In a complex, composable socioeconomic contexts the difference between a “rod” which connects producers and consumers and a “fulcrum” is fuzzy.

Is a web server a fulcrum or a rod? Does it create leverage on its own? Or does it need to be connected to something else in order for it to generate leverage?

The answer is ?maybe? NGINX Pro for example seems like a rod. It captures economic value in the form of licensing fees. However, it’s used within other contexts as a fulcrum.

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The strategy of licensing pieces that are “safe to distribute broadly” with or licenses, and licensing pieces that may not be safe to distribute widely via a proprietary, or license seems reasonable, even if ideologically impure.

And while ideological purity _may_ have value, Adherence to this purity must be evaluated through the degree of optionality adherence generates for those who are disenfranchised or disempowered.

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TL/DR: Proprietary software is not inherently evil. Open or Free software is not inherently “good.”

Restrictions are not inherently “bad” if they prevent those with significant socioeconomic power from disempowering or disenfranchising others.

There are no werewolves.
There are no silver bullets.

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What we can do instead is take the time to deeply understand the needs of those who have the least and make a good faith effort to meet those needs, even if it means sacrificing the wants of those who have much.

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@deejoe Yep. It’s almost as if technologists created a cultural movement without understanding (or really valuing) the socioeconomic implications.


I couldn't have described this thread better had I tried, thanks for that.

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