Older blog entries for mdupont (starting at number 41)

5 Dec 2003 (updated 5 Dec 2003 at 15:33 UTC) »

Dear all, Here is a longer post of mine that should summ up my ideas on freedom in education.

Just found this new post: Stallman's Recent essay on Schools

It was linked from The Gnu-Friends

Which has an article from Sirian S11 Article on GNU Friends

Who is a leading member of the fsedu project The FSEdu Project

Now, what I would like to point out here, is an important point that came up in my discussions with Red HatAdvogatoArticle

What are the rights of a natural person? Do they have the rights to use free software? Do they have the rights to use only free software? My answer is yes: that is a right that they have, untill it is taken away or sold.

If we analyse the transactions leading up to the loss of rights, you will see the breaking points:

  • The school gets software and in turn sells the rights of the students to use Free Software.
  • The teacher requires that the student submit assignments using non-free file formats.
  • The student buys student licensed software with the added conditions that they are monitored for illegal usage.
  • The school has an online course that is only usable using non Free Software.

In order to save money, people resort to illegal copying:

  • The schools install new pcs with software that is not licensed.
  • The student installs illegal copies of the non-free software in order to be able to fulfill requirements
  • Courses that would be possible are not done because of lacking budget for software.

All of the possiblities are happening today in schools around the word. People's rights are being sold out to software vendors, with the follow ups of surveilence of the students and illegal copying to offset costs.

This illegal activity is a result of the original step of the decision to sell the rights of the students to use free software. A downward spiral ending in the criminalization of the students and teachers gets put into place.

The proper solution to the problem is to use only Free Software in the schools. For that to happen however, the Free Software community needs to be able to deliver the solution. And we need to make people aware of the dangers of non-free software in education.

The awareness is the problem however for many reasons :

  • The educational sector is lacking in general any idea of freedom. They are completly used to having to buy text books, buy software, pay for expensive and freedom-robbing solutions. When you come with software that is free, then you are fighting against an entrenched non-free community that really does not appreciate it.

  • The OSS(Open Source Software) companies are making a large amount of money off of non-free learning materials and courseware. The entire Red Hat academy is corrupted, in my opinion, with non-free software. This lacking of support from even the OSS industry makes it harder to get support in the community.

  • The students are not aware of thier freedoms. They are taught from the beginning to accept the non free software, to respect licenses. They are being taught to be consumers in a right-less society where they are just digging deeper the hole of IP. It is very scary and difficult for them say no. There needs to be a support organisation for that saying "no" to take place. And many people are scared of "rocking the boat". If they are going to an good school, they might be already aware of the inbalance in the rights of the people, and be learning to exploit that for thier own benefits. Thus, the students might not see Free Software as to thier own advantage!

  • The teachers: Teachers are gaining from the lack of rights. People producing learning materials do not want to have these materials easily copied, because they lose revenue. They are used to non-free software and see it as a loss to give up on them and learn new software.

  • The government: May people in the boards of education are dealing directly with software vendors. They are becoming pushers of non-free software and selling the rights of thier students.

The requirements for a solution are following.

  • Education in rights

    The first thing that people need to learn about is their rights. They need to understand what basic rights they have. We need courses in software licensing and contractual law for people to learn about how to read contracts. People need to be able to submit contracts for review to a body of experts for classification and help.

  • Whistelblowing

    We need a central way for students and teachers to blow the whistle on schools. When a student is forced to install non-free software, or sees that a school is installing more licenses than they have, we need to track that in a database. In fact, it might be needed that students register what software is installed so that it can be checked if it is licensed.

    That is one way to promote free software: eliminate the usage of illegal versions of non-free software.

  • Means of payment

    The only real way to provide educational materials that are of high quality is to provide for a way for people who work on them to live! If there is no payment, then there is no way to ensure quality.

    One idea that we have come up with is a framework for allowing people to create content and sell that. The idea would be that people would provide content to fulfill a curicula, and that subscribers would pay for that to be created. They would receive a copy of the content and also online support and tutoring from the teacher, for which they would pay. The end result would be that the results are published under a Free license that allows for reuse of the content. The course would be financed by the payment for the service of teaching and testing which is reimbursed. The same applies for the supporting of schools with installation and support services. Only when there exists a infrastructure for supporting a large school that is cost effective will free software succeed in schools.

  • Awareness and activism: The final solution is activism. There needs to be a way to promote Free Software in the schools, the boards of education and the government. We need a way to deliver this software to the people and to support them. This can only happen when there is a respectable and solid basis for it.

In total the prospect of Free Software in education is very bad. It will be a slow process that might only happen when there is a generation change in our society. It can also be that our society is not ready to accept the social and political revolution that is brought by the giving freedom back to the students.

mike removed typos, fixed grammer BAD SPELLERS OF THE WORLD: UNTIE!!

I have been thinking about this issue of implementing patent endangered code in the dotgnu and mono project. (the Winforms)

See : Mail1 Mail2

  • You need to track who is working on that explicitly because of the danger of patents being approved. Not all people can work on all parts, depending on what country they are fron.

  • People need to be warned that if they contribute to that project the thier work can be thrown out and made invalid if the patents are granted. Otherwise

  • The license of patented endangered software is not GPL compatible because there are restrictions on who can work on them.

All in all what is needed, in my humple opinon is a way to mark the software as being in danger. I would suggest that the dotgnu project move all this code that is part of the MS patent application into a new project. That project will need to have a different license text on it, and have some type of access control for the commits.

I think that is the only fair way to handle the situation, otherwise you will have people who are contributing to what they think is free software, only to have the rug pulled out from under thier feet.

mike

One important aspect that is should mention is that this providers a fulll access to the gcc interface via code generation and subsequent execution. That creates the possibiltly to require that the users of that generated code make thier derivitive works under the gpl. That just might solve the wishes of those who want only free software to interface to the gcc..

peace, mike

I have released a new version of the introspector, a proof of concept, something you can look at and learn from. A self contained demo program that allows you to graphically explore the structure of a almost any program that you can compile with the gcc!

It features the introspector ice cube. The ice cube contains a superfast and compressed extract of the semantic data of the program that can be compiled in as a lib and loaded into memory in miliseconds.

The graph alogorithms are also very fast on constant size arrays of object!

Hopefully It will become the new way to embed a static semantic resources into your new programs.

We then slice the ice cube for each by Property into nice thin C arrays.

It has a gcc tree extracted out of the dotgnu pnet idlasm code emit function. That means i have reversed engineered an free software component.

The results of the reverse engineering are stored in a rdf repository. This has cwm,perl, and shell scripts doing semantic processing of the data. An redland RDF repository is used to interface into the guts of the gcc compiler.

The asts are serialized by a patched gcc3.4 experimental -fdump-translation-unit, you can find the source code in the cvs.

That is emitted into rdf and converted by a perl script into a ice cube.

That are served into slices of data, each attribute its own vector that has the length of the number of nodes in the selected rdf property. There is in fact a matrix of all the objects and relationships between them stored in the Array.

This program contains just the linux binary of the program that has all this data compiled into an ICE Cube :

That is emitted into a inline c array for compiling into the target program.

Please join up on the list, come to the #introspector chat zone on freenode.net, and jabber me at mdupont@nureality.ca

Just had an idea :

What about a simple signed rdf description of the things that you want to sell? Like UDDI, but just a RDF file.

Then you can post all of that to the web, register yourself with a search machine and buyers can grab the stuff from you.

mike

I find it very strange, that while reading my an article about microsofts anti-linux FUD, that it is payed for by microsoft .

Here is the article : NEWSFORGE

Here are the adds that appear on my screen : MS AD MSBANNER

In fact, I feel sick to my stomach.

2 Sep 2003 (updated 2 Sep 2003 at 16:58 UTC) »

So after reading about slashdot RSS Feeds and after reading berend'S diary [Edited grammer]

It hit me :

I have been thinking about unification of blogging, wikis, email, bugreports, and all types of data about your software into on format.

It should be possible to just create a set of RDF files that contain all relevant information, these files will be just interpreted by various agents for display.

You can post the data that is directed at a specific person into a directory, for example if you want to send a mail to someone, you would sign that in an encypted rdf file and post that on your webserver. They would just pull it from your server.

In any case, this is making sense to me, it will be a central way to manage the publication on all the mediums needed. By using RDF you can mark up your messages with all the metadata needed.

The rendering can be done by a set of filters.

Imagine an wordnetization, ispellification of your text, identify the words etc.

That would allow for grammar engines to process your text easier... crazy idea are exploding in my mind...

I got your point madhatter

I will constrain my postings to advogato for a while, maybe I have been posting too much uninteresting stuff.

peace,

mike

I tried to post this to my artible, but something is wrong.

exa I have talked may times about this to rms and others, In fact, I mail with him often.

My issue is not with rms, but with the way that gcc developers are supporting on one hand an export on their own, but on the other hand

raph If you want to delete this article, please feel free.

It is not that the free software philosophy is the problem, but those who seek to gain more power and control than is provisioned by the gpl.

Omnifarious you say "Get over it, and build something" I have been building something for years now, you can download and run it and use it.

you say "Or, get someone else who understands the issue and can write without making it sound like paranoid ranting to write the article for you. "

OK, what parts dont you like? I can post a follow up here that is an edited version.

DotGNU x11 control ideas :

1. VCG graph layout control

2. RDF editor control

3. IP address control

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