09.06.20

More People Should Get Involved in the Fight for Software Freedom (in a World Where Software Increasingly Manages or Mismanages Everything)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Centralised computing (or Clown Computing) keeps people dependent (serving the “master” at the top) and mutually isolated, unable to help one another

Server concept

Summary: A lot of people completely underestimate the degree to which users’ control over software (not vice versa) influences society and impacts justice in general

THE WORLD in 2020 is Orwellian; way more so than in 2019. Cash payments are being phased out in some contexts (enabling more surveillance), software is used to profile and score citizens, people are expected to upload every file to “the cloud” (that even happens in the background in recent versions of Android), and software updates as large as entire operating systems are being imposed on users, who are mere tenants on their own machines that they paid for. Machines are constantly being changed, remotely, by foreign software vendors that are in the surveillance business (with military contracts). This should not be considered “normal”…

“We also know that a lot of sites are designed to spy on people and ‘farm’ their brains (thoughts being analysed and manipulated at the same time).”What can we do about all this? Change the dynamics of software. We already know that so-called ‘permissive’ licences are being exploited by proprietary software companies to build and augment their monopolies faster (while reducing R&D overhead). We also know that a lot of sites are designed to spy on people and ‘farm’ their brains (thoughts being analysed and manipulated at the same time).

Bruce Perens spoke about such issues only a fortnight ago. He came to the realisation that what he called “Open Source” wasn’t enough; it got hijacked or maybe it was all along a premeditated hijack. Software freedom is barely mentioned anymore, unlike privacy rights and other shallower terms (the ones the EFF likes to talk about). This is pretty much what the EFF’s staff ‘stands’ for these days:

Jillian York

OK then. So use a platform with back doors while advocating free speech… and also blocking people for merely retweeting something you disagree with (yes, she did that to me!).

Software freedom is a serious matter and many people just don’t take it seriously or only pretend to take it seriously.

“We are hopeful, not hopeless, that enough people out there consciously or subconsciously care enough about their control over their lives.”At the moment we wait and see what happens to initiatives such as Perens’, as well as the FSF, which we sometimes see leaning towards a business model similar to the Linux Foundation‘s.

We are hopeful, not hopeless, that enough people out there consciously or subconsciously care enough about their control over their lives. Computers should not dominate people; it’s the people who ought to control their computers. For democracy to survive and thrive people must be in a position to control their fate and hold accountable those above them. Like those who wish to ban encryption because they don't like people talking about them.

Earlier this year employees of the European Patent Office (EPO) were subjected to spying by the employer (António Campinos) inside their own homes. This is even worse than Benoît Battistelli sending doctors on ‘surprise expeditions/visits’ to ill staff. The former surveillance is digital (software), whereas the latter was physical. Employee on sick leave could just refuse to open the door, no matter how long the knocking went on for. This sort of exemplifies the negative trajectory we’re made to follow in the name of ‘modernisation’.

There’s nothing inherently wrong about modernisation; but if it’s guided by proprietary software controlled by Clown Computing giants, then it’s a major regression in terms of human rights, labour rights and all sorts of other societal safeguards, long cherished by people with sufficient foresight.

“What really worries me is that the courts might choose a muddled half-measure—by approving an interpretation of “indecent” that permits the doctor program or a statement of the decency rules, but prohibits some of the books that any child can browse through in the public library. Over the years, as the Internet replaces the public library, some of our freedom of speech will be lost.”

Richard Stallman, 1996

How Debian Handles Tragedy

Posted in Debian, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 2:38 am by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

Debian recently announced the sad passing of Lucy Wayland, giving credit to the various ways she contributed to the project and the well-being of the community. Those of us who visited Cambridge had met Lucy from time to time, her absence will be on many people’s minds when we return there for future events.

It is an awkward moment for Debian. It is inappropriate to draw any specific conclusions about something we don’t completely understand. On the other hand, we need to recognize that there has been heightened risk to people in Debian and some other free software communities. Wayland’s death happened in January, some time before the news was made public in March yet it occurred only shortly after a number of people were made to feel unwelcome in very cruel circumstances during the Christmas week. Some have spoken publicly about being threatened, feelings of shame or apprehension and others have started giving private feedback about similar encounters in the community.

In mid-2018, when a member of the community was in a period of pain and grief, the project leader, Chris Lamb, saw it as a political opportunity and took it upon himself to try and shame and humiliate that person with a series of sly and malicious emails. Relentlessly pouring on undeserved blame and guilt with a series of condescending emails over half the year. How would we feel if Lamb reproduces this behavior with those mourning Wayland at this moment, twisting his rusty knife in an open wound to see if he can get a reaction? Towards the end of the year, the same so-called leader lit the fuse and then stood back and allowed a lynching culture to emerge and thrive during the week of Christmas. This is normally a period of rest and reflexion for people and that has been taken away, replaced with a period of vindictiveness. In a large distributed community like Debian, the consequences of such leadership/bullying can be dangerous and unpredictable. Nobody in an official capacity has even acknowledged that a problem exists and Lamb has yet to show any remorse.

An important point to consider: people who witness bullying by Debian’s leadership may be more deeply affected than those who are bullied. To what extent was Wayland exposed to this? Once again, in such a large community, the probability that at least some people will find this deeply disturbing is quite high.

In another well-known NGO, Amnesty International, there were two work-related suicides during 2018. We are not speculating that Wayland’s cause of death was suicide or work-related, nor do we know, that is a matter for the coroner’s inquiry to officially rule on. This is being raised in the interests of the community at large. Amnesty decided to get external help and made the report public. A number of similarities with free software culture jump out of the page, consider the quotes from the Key Findings section (p14).

There has been only one nomination for the role of Debian Project Leader. The secretary brazenly decided to ignore the candidate and reopen nominations. The organization’s culture and structure may well be a factor in Lamb’s shortcomings and the apprehension that other people have about the role. While it may seem daunting to recover from such a position, it may be possible for somebody who is finally willing to meet with people and listen to all sides of the story. That is where leadership begins.

If you have concerns or stress in the free software community right now, please consider speaking to somebody offline. Amongst other things, only those viewpoints compatible with the Debian monoculture are now permitted on Debian’s mailing lists but more importantly, when you speak to somebody face to face, it may be both a safer and more effective way to explore your feelings about the issue.

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, September 05, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:25 am by Needs Sunlight

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

[Meme] When Public Interest Groups Get Warped/Transformed Into Corporate Lobbying Fronts

Posted in Deception, Finance at 2:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Transposing misleading names with incompatible objectives (e.g. Linux Foundation that does not use Linux, SFC sponsored by prominent GPL violators, OSI run by proprietary software giants)

Teary eye: More sponsors! No members left

Summary: Mission statements of institutions such as the Linux Foundation, SFC and OSI have long been abandoned in pursuit of money; who next to make the same mistakes again?

Social Control Media Ought Not Influence Election Outcomes (But It Does, Oftentimes Based on Misinformation, No Quality Control)

Posted in Deception at 1:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Social Control Networks. What are they good for?

Big crowd

Summary: Many reasons exist to not participate in mass communication media where falsehoods flow uninterrupted and trolls generally thrive

THE issues associated with “Social Control Media” (or “Social Control Networks”) have long been dissected here. 3 months ago I became 'write-only' in Twitter (my ‘participation’ there is limited to making mere copies) because it’s a ruinous noise machine where so-called ‘users’ (useds as RMS calls them) are likely to receive/absorb as many falsehoods as actual, true, evidence-backed facts. It’s all about perception and ‘feel’ or ‘engagement’ (where supposed merit of posts is judged by number of “likes”, rewarding click-bait and emotion, not accuracy).

“It’s a potential pool for falsehoods and lynch mobs. It drags people down to a very low level or common denominator.”Techrights is about more than software freedom, but it doesn’t dwell or obsess over “Social Control Media” (or “Social Control Networks”) all that often. It’s really not a subject of focus here. I myself (as an individual) still have some accounts on those networks; Techrights does not (and never will). It’s worse than a waste of time. It’s a potential pool for falsehoods and lynch mobs. It drags people down to a very low level or common denominator. This is Jim Zemlin’s (Linux Foundation) very last tweet, dated 15 months ago:

Mind the top comment. Some real maturity, eh? Way to paint all the Linux Foundation’s sceptics and opponents as a bunch of aggressors and/or trolls. Jim Zemlin has been keeping a low profile over the past 1.5 years. Even press releases barely mention his name any longer.

And then there’s politics.

“Social Control Media” (or “Social Control Networks”) can generally reward lots of charlatans and liars, even hate groups. Unlike the media (with all its flaws), it’s very easy to manipulate groups of people in “Social Control Media” (or “Social Control Networks”) and go ‘viral’ with outright lies. So all around the world career liars can leverage sites like Facebook (with Instagram, WhatsApp etc.) to elect themselves. Fear-mongering, lies, and deliberate distortions are all ‘fair play’, albeit warning labels or so-called ‘fact-checking’ belatedly come to these sites (it doesn’t scale; they can only target high-profile accounts and there will certainly be false positives).

“Thankfully Techrights doesn’t bother with that nonsense and mostly relies on RSS (subscription) to reach readers.”So my advice is, as always, do not get started with this mess, either as reader or participant. I myself am sort of ‘stuck’ in this mess; I’m weaning myself off it, over time…

Thankfully Techrights doesn’t bother with that nonsense and mostly relies on RSS (subscription) to reach readers. Less overhead, no middlemen. After almost 14 years the site has enough following, so it doesn’t need things like Twitter or even Mastodon.

Just because many people do something or use something doesn’t mean it’s harmless/benign. Many people still walk around with a tracking device that’s not obligatory to carry (they call it “phone”). Many people equate this thing called “Facebook friend” with a real friend; so much so that they lack time to actually meet those people and instead they scroll up and down ‘walls’, pressing “like” on things, expecting others to reciprocate with “likes” to make an appearance of popularity.

” Many people equate this thing called “Facebook friend” with a real friend; so much so that they lack time to actually meet those people and instead they scroll up and down ‘walls’, pressing “like” on things, expecting others to reciprocate with “likes” to make an appearance of popularity.”When my wife and I first met (2011) she still used a phone and had a Facebook account; she has neither now and she’s a lot happier. She’d rather read articles and cook than press “like” on somebody’s breakfast photo.

As for myself, since June we’ve been posting to Techrights at a pace of 300+ posts per month and we’ll reach the 30,000 posts milestone in about 5 months, i.e. around of February 2021. Later that year the site turns 15. The articles receive a lot more attention — especially positive attention — than any “tweet” or “quip” or whatever they’re called. We don’t crave comments or “likes”; we just want to put as much accurate information out there as possible. Yesterday we were in the front page of Slashdot and various other high-profile sites. The “Linusgate” article was viewed over 50,000 times. This very rarely happens in a site like Twitter and even when that happens all that people see is a single out-of-context sentence and/or image.

We need to get back to real news and abandon “Social Control Media” (or “Social Control Networks”).

“We need to get back to real news and abandon “Social Control Media” (or “Social Control Networks”).”There’s an election coming soon in the United States. I’m rather cynical about the whole thing because Wall Street and the “eternal wars” machine have once again trotted out two truly terrible candidates, letting the public choose the “lesser evil” (no real choice on important policies, such as environmental reforms, public health access, taxes imposed on the super-rich and so on).

But here’s the thing–

Regardless of who one chooses (Biden is obviously the lesser evil), how will people form their opinions? What will judgement of candidates be based on? An unscrupulous “tweet”?

In a sense, right off the bat, “Social Control Media” (or “Social Control Networks”) will favour the better liar. The supporters likewise. Those who are morally depraved would be a lot more eager to spread falsehoods and outright lunacy (like QAnon). Because ends justify means, right? And fascism is all good when the so-called ‘president’ foments violence and conflicts in the streets of his own country.

“In a sense, right off the bat, “Social Control Media” (or “Social Control Networks”) will favour the better liar.”I really don’t look forward to the next two months; the Web will be a fatal trap of lies and distortions (with corrections receiving nowhere near the same level of exposure as shameless propaganda). One could argue — as many increasingly do — that companies like Facebook and Twitter have compromised democracy and basic public integrity all around the world. We more or less know who controls and subsidises those sites.

Wanna change things for the better? Shun those companies. Vote with the legs and feet (and computer mouse). Get an RSS reader today and subscribe to credible sources of information — sites that don’t evaluate merit based on the number of mindless drones who press “like”…

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