Love him or loathe him, when historians look back and wonder who was responsible for saving the internet from the clutches of the Evil Megacorp (TM) they’ll be reading more about Richard Stallman than they will about you, dear reader. One of the pioneers of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), author of the GPL licence, creator of the GNU project* and tireless campaigner to wean us off of proprietary services which suck up our data and do shadowy things with it, there’s a campaign underway to bring Stallman to South Africa to speak on behalf of the Free Software Foundation and Software Freedom day.
And this being 2013, the organisers are hoping to crowdsource funds to raise money his ticket. If you want to hear Stallman speak, you can contribute here.
Personally, I think this is a great idea. Whatever you think of Stallman – who is a very personable guy in the flesh but burns with a righteous fire that makes Julius Malema’s stump speeches look like a children’s sparkler – there’s never been a greater need for more transparency in how software works and what online services do with your data. Be warned, though, it may not be for the faint hearted. The last time I went to an event at which RMS was talking, he removed his shoes and start doing unspeakable things with his toes during the Q&A. And there’s only so many times you can hear the Kindle described as the ‘Swindle’ before you want to buy one just to piss the speaker off.
Still, you don’t get to be Richard Stallman without a certain amount of not-giving-a-flying do you?
*Best known these days for underpinning Linux, or GNU/Linux as Stallman will correct you should you get it wrong.