Proposed Amendment to the OWS Principles of Solidarity

The Technology Operations working group is proposing the following to the NYC General Assembly:

Proposal

Part 1

An amendment to one point on the Principles of Solidarity.

We propose replacing the following point of unity:

  • “Endeavoring to practice and support wide application of open source.”

… with this text:

  • “Making technologies, knowledge, and culture open to all to freely access, create, modify, and distribute.”

Part 2

To host the authoritative copy of our official documents on a version control system. Version control will allow us to maintain the documents in a more transparent way, with every edit tracked. It will also allow other occupations to use, modify, and alter the New York City General Assembly’s documents to fit their own unique needs, while maintaining a clear path back to the source document.

Overview

We wish to put forward a wider vision of how openness relates to the “new socio-political and economic alternative” described in the Principles of Solidarity. It’s not only that the source code for software should be public and transparent, but also that it should be available for sharing, modification, and re-use. And this spirit of freedom should extend beyond software, to hardware designs, digitized media including images, audio, and video, data, research papers, and other forms of information that we haven’t yet imagined. Consumers should never have any artificial restrictions placed on their ability to tweak, to remix, to become makers.

As with the original wording, there is no mandate to use only free software, or to make every video occupiers record immediately public. Rather, we want to make it clear that we value freedom and openness in technologies, knowledge, and culture, and that we work towards a world where this freedom can be complete.

Background

We were prompted by an email from the tireless free software pioneer Richard Stallman, who wrote that he was disappointed in the current wording “because ‘open source’ is a right-wing campaign to disconnect our software from our freedom-based philosophy. It was launched in 1998 with the explicit goal of being corporate-friendly. It is ironic that Occupy Wall Street, of all things, advocates open source rather than the free software movement.”

After some discussion, we agreed to propose to the GA a change to the wording to include both “free” and “open”. We aren’t doing this because we want to ally ourselves with one side of an old dispute about terminology, but rather because we want to put forward a wider vision of openness than the Principles of Solidarity currently offer.

Tech Ops reached consensus on this proposal Sunday, February 5th, 2012.

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