My Freedom Zero <> Freedom 0

Was Richard Stallman wrong when he wrote the Four Freedoms? I would argue, and I am, that he views/viewed freedom through *his* lens, which is something that people normally do. RMS is a highly intelligent man, and accomplished programmer, and a thought leader for our movement. He is able to read source code. He is probably able to make any software work, if he were to apply his time and intellect or that of his staff.

Life in the "community trenches" has taught me a valuable lesson that I feel is obvious yet eludes most programmers: Not everyone is RMS. And, if you're reading this as a programmer, or someone who *gets* technology and its arcane underbelly, not everyone is you.

Software is useless if people lack the capacity (or means) to enjoy it. By that, I am referring to aptitude, though one could extend this line of thought to time, attention, and any other finite resource. For many, the barrier of adopting new (to them) technology is high, and maybe even unreachable.

Richard wrote "freedom 0" to be:
"The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose"

I propose that we consider an alternate "freedom 0", which I will call Freedom Zero:

    "The freedom to enjoy the benefit(s) of a program without the need for advanced knowledge of technology, undue effort, or expert assistance."

See the difference?

When we make software (and systems) that respect the fact that not everyone has the time, knowledge, aptitude, energy, etc. to enjoy it, then we begin to approach Freedom Zero

Technology (software or otherwise) that provides Freedom Zero is technology that *everyone* can enjoy; technology that knows no prejudices.

If you are advocating a particular program, operating system, or technology in general, please consider this question first.

"Can everyone I know enjoy it (even my most non-technical friends, relatives and neighbours) without the need for my assistance?"

If the answer is "no" then I suggest you re-think your motives.


Note: RMS has neither reviewed nor endorsed this article.


> Software (programs) that do not provide an easy on-ramp for everyday folks is not free for them.

that should include an on ramp to creating software too

and a non scary one too.. for shy people who can write code but just need learn how to be less shy


Don't agree... It's like saying we shouldn't fly to moon just because not everyone can do that... Nonsense...

Thinking this way, we'd still catching rabbits by hand because surely not everyone was able to operate the first weapons.


I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is not to profess freedom when it's not there for most people.

I've heard a lot of rhetoric about how system A is more "4 essential freedoms" than system B which in theory may very well be true but only when viewed through the eyes of a developer. If my least tech-savvy friend can't enjoy your software, then it offers no freedom for him. Zero. All it offers is false hope.

And on the topic of moon, one could argue (and people likely have) that for the cost of moon missions other problems could have been solved for millions of people. That's not my cause, but it's worth thinking about.


Freedom is an awesome feeling to do everything on your choice without any compulsion. in technology, it certainly will lead to the new innovation and the advancement.


Thanks for your comment.


Just... no. The software freedoms are about being allowed to do things without anyone telling you not to. What you're suggesting is an obligation to the developers, which results in less freedom for them. You have the freedom to use a piece of software how you wish or not use it at all. You may request improvements to software if you're unable to do them yourself, but the developer also has the freedom to not implement them. If you don't like it, fork the software and pay/convince someone to make the changes you deem necessary. Do not call an obligation spend more time and do more work freedom.


Software (programs) that do not provide an easy on-ramp for everyday folks is not free for them. Freedom is bidirectional and not the sole domain of the programmer.

If we pretend that any program with a GPL (or similar license) is free, then we are making an assumption that anyone can enjoy it. We know that is not the case.

Though I agree that in theory people are free to improve programs, that is not something that is within reach for many.


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