A good article on Stallman. It's worth asking ourselves here the epistemological question: "are ideas separate from the idea-holders".

because by many accounts rms isn't a stellar human being, but he believes his ideals with great purity.

is it possible - as the classical Western ideal says - for an idea and the idea-carrier to be separated?

idk. monday afternoon musings when I'm not excited about work.

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@pnathan I believe you can separate the idea and the idea-carrier, but you can't do it by writing in-depth profiles of the idea-carrier's personal quirks. When you have a strong pre-existing association between idea & idea-carrier like this, you have to, like, actually do things to deliberately break it.

Surely there are other interesting free software advocates to write profiles about.

@mcmoots There are. But rms is towering. Even if you were to have a purely idea-based discussion, you'd be relying heavily on his work, even in critique. I can't name another *idea* based free software advocate. Many people doing, few people thinking as a primary action.

I think he takes up too much space in the movement, to be honest. I genuinely don't know if he's taken oxygen out of the room or very few people have gotten deep into the idea set.

@pnathan @mcmoots I got to respect Stallman more recently. First, I started attending his talks and started to realize his sermons have some effect on the public. People, even if for few minutes, start to realize their sins. That's interesting to observe.

I visited his recent talk with a friend, who had seen him for a first time. The talk was bad: rms was annoyed that his talk wasn't promoted enough; he was definitely not in good shape.

But my friend stayed and said, 'You know, he's right'.

@saper @mcmoots maybe a decade ago now, I guess, I saw some events, and realized that rms had predicted it & a number of other things (or analogues of same) years prior. at that point it was like, "welp, ok. time to take him seriously and presume correctness"

@pnathan @mcmoots that is why I am deeply concerned with his criticism of the Internet as a whole.

I grew up as a true believer and now I am left with my dreams ruined.

@saper @mcmoots If I were to take a swing at a first set of ideas, we need a Programme, in the old Mathematics Program idea.

we need to develop what it means to have free sofware in a SaaS and IoT world - rms's tactics are very desktop / workstation oriented. His strategies and ideas need to be built upon and refined.

I'm not sure what that looks like in toto.

I do think it looks like a new web without compatibility, with new protocols and so forth.

@mcmoots @saper enormous man-decades are burnt in having as many choices as possible, and encouraging that.

the other thing that has gutted the Free software movement is the Open Source movement with ESR, Tim O'Reilly, etc. They set things up to be exploited by corps.

@saper @mcmoots FWIW if some people with serious[1] software experience wanted to get together and commit philosophy on what a Free Software 2.0 would look like, I'd be up for that. Needs to happen.

[1] Responsibility for getting it right and fixing when it goes wrong; "skin in the game", etc. Those with their feet on the ground can see furthest into the clouds

@pnathan @mcmoots @saper

Not that I'm 'serious' in that sense but

at a first cut, 'Free Software 2.0' might look something like 'Free Services'.

(in that Free Software was absorbed and then simply *bypassed* by Google, Facebook, Amazon et al and the transition from delivering software to delivering services)

But Free Services might have some nasty side effects: doing to the Internet economy what the Internet economy has done to the rest of the economy.

@saper @mcmoots @pnathan

At a second glance, I think the ideas of Christopher 'A Pattern Language' Alexander (particularly about how 'living buildings' are generated by structure-preserving transformations... ie, by users locally modifying their buildings to suit their needs, as opposed to elite architects imposing unified design from above) apply very strongly to the ideals of Free Software.

This would probably require some form of Workplace Democracy.

@natecull @saper @pnathan @mcmoots This sounds like you want to fire up another (now a parked domain), hopefully with better longevity.

We did get GNU Social out of it that time, so it wasn't completely lost. existed before, but Evan was very much involved with and inspired by the movement, and was motivated by a will to offer a service that complied with the nascent Free Service recommendations that would become the Franklin Street Statement. You will see him below endorsing the FSS and be listed as a contributor to the OSSD.

Didn't look at before, but it says pretty much the same as the FSS, partly stricter, partly looser. They misspelled Evan's last name. :-)

@clacke @mcmoots @natecull @saper fascinating.

I think that looking forward 15 years, we don't have "the web", we have some layer of thin client applications and remote servers for heavy lifting, actual HTML is almost non-existent. IoT speaks json exclusively to the remote servers.

and we have to think what *matters* and what we can do - both in an idealized way and in a practical way

@pnathan @saper @natecull @mcmoots So looking forward 15 years is like looking back 25 years? Is there a pendulum in motion?

Is it the same pendulum as the client/server<->personal_computer one, or is the generic_client<->specialized_client motion separate (although related)?

I think the happy mean is mostly using specialized clients, but having the web as a generic view of the data, for serendipity and accessibility. Everything having a dereferenceable URI is a great thing.

@clacke @mcmoots @pnathan @saper

I wonder if JSON is going to become the new universal data transfer standard. It feels depressingly like it already is.

If so, it might help to see if we can... 'humanise' JSON a little.

eg: can we get a simplified and more pleasant for humans syntax for JSON (that ditches syntactic noise like quotes and commas)?

also can we get standard protocols for extending its semantics (eg to store objects with non-string keys?)

@saper @pnathan @mcmoots @clacke

like just being able to write

{key value key value}


[1 2 3 [4 5]]

will help a LOT, as long as we agree that this is a thing we need

(we will probably only agree that this is a thing we need after we've lived in a pure-JSON world - ie, no Javascript, just JSON - for a few years and then tried to implement actual languages on top of that)

@natecull @saper @pnathan @mcmoots I'm rather enjoying writing Nix, which is fortunate, as that's what I'm doing a lot now. :-)

It has some evolutionary warts, but it's vaguely JSON-y with the curlies and squares, and it uses whitespace rather than commas to separate list items (and also arguments if you use functions and not just the data format).

@clacke @mcmoots @pnathan @saper

Yeah, I guess what I'm arguing is that we should have a low-level 'data grammar' which you could pleasantly encode a language like Nix *on top of*.

Rather than, as we still seem to do now, keep homebrewing syntaxes and parsers for all these different use cases. Because XML and JSON are both syntactically too noisy and chunky, and semantically too restricted, to serve as a universal grammar.

But if we must have JSON semantics, at least we could fix its syntax

@clacke @mcmoots @pnathan @saper


I really like this article because it describes exactly what I've wanted to see for a while.

I'm *not* convinced that the language 'Annah' is the right one, but some framework where we could pick from a bunch of languages would be nice.

The properties such a language would need to have would include being pure-functional, I think. Also being able to run without any concept of 'the computer it's running on' that most current languages have.

@saper @pnathan @mcmoots @clacke

The thing I keep tripping over is typing.

I'm not completely against typed languages.

But in a language like this, there needs to be no concept of 'compilation' as a special offline mechanism where types are created; since there *won't exist* any 'offline' to the system, just a bunch of messages.

That means types need to be able to be defined computationally somehow within the system, by functions or functionlike things that take types as arguments.

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@natecull @saper @pnathan @mcmoots @clacke that looks like you're describing s-expressions. It seems like people keep trying to reinvent things that already exists and works well

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@natecull @saper @pnathan @mcmoots Extending JSON is best done with JSON-LD, I believe. Then you're halfway back at XML in terms of human readability and writeability, but you've at least gained SemWeb semantics.

If you want more readable JSON, you can try serializing it as YAML instead. There is a large subset of JSON that is valid YAML, but YAML also offers more whitespacey and less noisy syntax.
@clacke @saper @pnathan @natecull @mcmoots
> best
> json-ld

do you think those words belong in the same sentence?
@lain @saper @pnathan @natecull @mcmoots Yes. You need to consider the alternatives, if there even are any.

@clacke @mcmoots @lain @natecull @saper toml is ok.

I'd suggest looking very hard at interchange protocols. You don't want iec61850 redux.

@pnathan @saper @natecull @lain @mcmoots That's an oddly specific reference. :-)

Did you work at a power company?

@clacke @mcmoots @pnathan @saper

The problem is I don't want actual Semantic Web semantics, quite. It's close, but I want something I could comfortably use to describe (both form part of and describe/manipulate) actual program code, or a small fragment of data, or a desktop UI; Semantic Web seems a little bit 'big and noisy' for those kind of uses.

I like something very much *like* YAML, and I admire what YAML is trying to do, but actual YAML is far TOO whitespace-dependent for my tastes.

@pnathan Stallman is definitely eccentric, but on all the main points he was right. Before Snowden many people didn't believe that government surveillance was a problem, or that only "the bad people" would be spied on. The reasons why software needed to be free also didn't become clear until the abuses of the software industry started to become obvious.
@bob I guess one needs to feel the pain to learn firsthand the good from the evil

@pnathan In other words: is ad-hominem legit? Discuss.

@thedod *snrk* yes.

There's an uncomfortable thing in left & liberal circles to not separate the messenger from the message.

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