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.