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09.14.20

Why We’re Called Techrights

Posted in Site News at 4:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Animal Rights Protest

Summary: Why we renamed to “Techrights” more than a decade ago and who made the suggestion/s

THE name Techrights came as a suggestion from Tracy, our Web host at the time, in 2010. He spent some time searching available domains when Novell had become obsolete (to be sold imminently), so the site’s identity needed to evolve accordingly. We considered doing so a lot sooner, but in IRC some people insisted that we should not leave Novell alone until the mission was accomplished. The site’s byline was a suggestion from Richard Stallman. He borrowed that from a publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He liked the word “sentry”; he still reads the site and apparently Linus Torvalds as well (sometimes).

“The site’s byline was a suggestion from Richard Stallman.”The site was vastly smaller 10 years ago. Depending on what’s being measured, it was about 5 times smaller (number of pages) and the readership was also a lot smaller (but not small). One of the things we’re happy to say and take pride in is that decisions were often made within the community (longtime contributors) and involved some open consultation. We’re also happy to say we have a perfect source protection record (nothing to brag about as much as to assure future sources). Being a very technical bunch, it comes almost naturally; the same cannot be said about the average lawyer or journalist. They don’t even use basic encryption and they extensively use this thing they call “smartphone” (surveillance equipment that can also make phonecalls… but rarely does).

Women Are Persons!Looking back at the whole thing, it’s good that the word “rights” was chosen. Some people think it’s a lot more meaningful than “freedom” because the word got distorted over time (like corporate deregulation). Stallman insisted to me that the “F” word would be more useful, but it was already too late to change. The term “rights” is associated with law (universally enforceable sometimes) and with principles such as “human rights”, “animal rights”, “women’s rights” and so on. The term “open” is so broad that it is slated for abuse and “free” has the issue of ambiguity (other than just “zero cost”). So we never really regretted the choice of name. “Tech” is a broad enough term, applicable both to hardware and software (even networking), so we can swiftly navigate from one topic to another (without drifting too far astray from the overarching umbrella/title). Sites must focus not only on important issues (of the time; timing matters, too) but also topics that they understand very well; otherwise they risk ending up making lots of errors, then framed as a non-factual chaotic mess (mainstream media is full of that).

“More Open Than Open [...] I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”

Microsoft’s Jason Matusow

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