What’s So Green About Free Software?
Recently, there was some news on linux.com about the Canadian Greens supporting free software in their election platform. I’m not surprised. Greens in general are very supportive towards free software, even the ones that don’t really use much of it themselves (like the Swedish Greens).
But still, while greens are typically not much better at using free software that the average joe, I’d say they are more supportive and curious about it. How come? What is it about green ideology that says free software is a good idea? Environmentalism? Liberalism? Global solidarity?
The greens often claims that the main dividing line in politics is not the (somewhat outdated) left to right scale. Instead, they say the real divide is between large and small scale solutions; mono culture vs. diversity. And for the greens diversity is not only about the ecosystem, but also about social security, education, democracy and economics. And dare I say – technology.
And when you think about it – what makes the Internet as an architecture stable is the same thing that makes our ecosystem stable. Mono cultures may be more effective, but they are also extremely much more vulnerable. That goes for ICT as well as growing crops; similarity brings vulnerability and diversity brings stability. And the same goes for software. Everyone using the same software, owned by Microsoft, is just as bad as every farmer using the same seed corn, owned by Monsanto. And even if there are a couple of Monsantos or Microsofts out there, surely it’s better if the farmers or computer users can control their own seed corn/software, resulting in more variation.
Free Software is very much about diversity and about stability. Non-free Software is about mono culture and vulnerability. That should make free software an obvious choice for green parties all over the world. Next stop – Global Greens Congress in SÃ£o Paulo, 2008? The step is not all that long, they’ve already got some credibility from running Drupal on their website!