In a discussion with a friend over phones, I covered a little bit of my personal philosophy regarding how I treat freedom and open source software amongst other things.
When it comes down to it, I believe in the best tool for the job where the term best means ‘allows me to do the job in the most satisfactory, fun and efficient way possible’. Now, I’m willing to make some sacrifices to balance this out with my desire to conform to my ethical desire to do so using freedom-supporting tools.
Given two tools, a commercial/proprietary one that does everything I need and in the way I like and a freedom-supporting tool that may be lacking in some areas that while annoying, are not essential, I would choose the freedom-supporting one. However, when the feature difference between tools is immense, I will choose the best tool for the job regardless of how it fits in with my ethical standpoint.
Now, some people might say this is hypocritical. To which I say, go fuck yourselves. When I use a non-freedom-supporting tool, I make sure to always be on the look out for alternatives, or to try and contribute to a ‘near-miss’ freedom-supporting project if I can. I doubt anyone in the world is 100% freedom-supporting in their lifestyle choices. I don’t suppose even the most hardline, black and white attitude freedom lover for goes everything that they don’t have 100% freedom with.
The world is one of compromises. For instance, I’m not much a gamer, but I like the occasional game. I have a GP2X a mostly freedom-supporting portable gaming device that runs Linux on which I play home-brew games. That doesn’t completely fulfil me though and all the other offerings out there aren’t satisfactory except for commercial/proprietary ones. The Xbox 360 I will not support as even though I would probably prefer it objectively to the PS3 due to the range of games, etc, I find supporting Microsoft is an absolute no ethically. I admit, my attitude is slowly changing towards them, in their favour, but currently my view is that they are only slightly less scummy than they were. Thus, I have a PS3. Sony I also have strong ethical problems with, regarding their DRM escapades amongst other things. I don’t support Sony and I try to make my views about Sony quite clear. I do not like Sony or endorse them in any way. Once again I am picking the best tool for the job, the job being that of entertaining me without majorly offending my ethical viewpoints.
I’m not going to give up non-free things because I wish the world was 100% freedom throughout. I’m not going to stop listening to bands that don’t release their work under free-culture licenses. I’m not going to stop reading books that weren’t published under a creative commons license. I’m not going to needlessly limit my life for an ethical view point. I can still espouse my ideals and support them. Reducing my quality of life doesn’t make the world better and it doesn’t help the cause. As much as people would like to believe that it sends a message, that message gets lost as so much noise in the signal.
We are a race of people that like convenience and progress and practicality and fun. A group of people that forgo a lot that to follow a hard line freedom-only attitude are only going to make the freedom-loving attitude in any degree look silly to the majority that we are trying to promote it to. No-one things going back to the past and living like the Amish is that great an idea or we’d all be doing it. Of course, I don’t have a problem with the Amish or how they choose to live, but as soon as someone tried to ram that attitude down your throat, you have a problem. There’s a time and a place to take a stand but limiting ourselves for little benefit isn’t one of them. It might give yourself a sense of self-satisfaction, but it’s not you you’re trying to convince.