Summary: As 2013 (nearly) comes to an end we look back at this year, reflecting and looking ahead at the coming years
2013 was a relatively slow year for Techrights, mostly for personal reasons and nothing related to the volume of news. In recent months there has been only scarce coverage of patent issues; this was due to lack of time but also a sense of despair. Allowing corporate influence in this area has taken us nowhere but fake ‘reforms’ which make elimination of software patents in the United States too distant a dream. The same thing in copyright policy motivated people like Professor Lessig (of Creative Commons fame) to ‘guerilla’ activism and sometimes suicide (Swartz). Lessig, a friend of Swartz, turns his attention to political corruption and next month he and many others will march in protest against such corruption. Without some political action we cannot expect good technology to be triumphant. It’s sad, but that’s how the world works.
As noted yesterday, 2013 was good for GNU/Linux and the future holds promise. In terms of journalism, however, 2013 was very bad. Putting aside the important leaks about the NSA (which served us well for the second part of the year), surveillance put an end to the excellent site Groklaw while several other excellent sites, including The H, pretty much died for financial reasons. By now it should be realised that unless we as readers support the sites we like they are likely to simply vanish or produce less output (I now work full time elsewhere and my wife does too). A few months ago Tux Machines was put on sale because the personal affairs of its founder threatened to put an end to it; my wife and I put our savings together to acquire and to keep running it. Now that site is very much focused on GNU/Linux and to a lesser degree on Free software in general. Here in Techrights things are getting more political, usually in a way that directly relates to technology. We oughtn’t shy away from politics. Good (as in benign, benevolent and technically better) policy will be imperative for progress. Without it, corruption like bribes (i.e. money) will determine who benefits from government contracts.
For quite a few years it has been possible for me to produce a daily (sometimes bi-daily) summary of links, informing readers of important news and sub-categorising it for easier absorption. I can no longer do this. It’s too much. A lot of readers appreciated it, but it’s no longer sustainable. Instead I occasionally post articles with relevant recent news appended and bits of commentary throughout. In 2014 it will stay the same unless readers have suggestions. Until a couple of years ago I was able to work on Techrights as though it was a full-time job (with salary of zero). Right now, if the goal is to keep the site going and always with both eyes on the ball, then cooperation is needed, e.g. contribution of articles, help in IRC (dropping links there can help), and even financial help. Of course one could turn rogue and serve privacy-infringing (remotely-hosted) ads — even full-page ads like Phoronix does — but that would defeat our goals and rightly make us look like hypocrites.
Techrights — like today’s Tux Machines (I’ve removed the ads from there) — is viewed as a public service. It’s not a business and not a job. It was never perceived that way. To help Techrights or Tux Machines is not to help some kind of business; it’s to help a cause, an idea, a process.
In 2014 we are going to release quite a few new videos that I recorded with Dr. Richard Stallman. These would already have been released if I had more time to edit. For those who wonder about TechBytes (audio), editing takes a long time (especially with music segments, as the rest is raw and unedited) and there are other issues because Tim, my co-host, may soon be moving to the United States. The show began in 2010 and in its current form it’s mostly centred around Richard Stallman, a person whom we agree with on many subjects.
As always, those who can financially support the site (to motivate more output) will be eternally remembered because currently there have been no more than half a dozen people who chose to do so. The sacrifice of time is ideologically driven, not business-driven. Techrights will never be anything resembling a business, just a site that gives readers what they want. █