Open Source Is Good, but How Can It Do Good?

Naked Security

Open-source coders: we know you are good—now do good.

The ethical use of computers has been at the heart of free software from the beginning. Here’s what Richard Stallman told me when I interviewed him in 1999 for my book Rebel Code:

The free software movement is basically a movement for freedom. It’s based on values that are not purely material and practical. It’s based on the idea that freedom is a benefit in itself. And that being allowed to be part of a community is a benefit in itself, having neighbours who can help you, who are free to help you – they are not told that they are pirates if they help you – is a benefit in itself, and that that’s even more important than how powerful and reliable your software is.

The Open Source world may not be so explicit about the underlying ethical aspect, but most coders probably would hope that their programming makes the world a better place. Now that the core technical challenge of how to write good, world-beating open-source code largely has been met, there’s another, trickier challenge: how to write open-source code that does good.

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