Free Speech & FLOSS vs the Alt-Right

What’s the link between free speech, dental hygiene, and the alt-right? I have no idea. But there’s an clear link between free speech, Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS), and the rising alt-right movement.

As I reported back in May, the alt-right echo chamber Gab is adapting ActivityPub. One of the main drivers behind this decisions is to make a beachhead inside mobile app stores. The next version of Gab is a fork of the Mastodon code, and it’s scheduled for launch on July 4. Gab’s impending inroad has caused a slight scare on the left side of the fediverse. As It turns out, leftists, antifas, and the LGBT community really don’t like the alt-right.

But there is no need to panic. Because of its open and distributed nature, the fediverse already has a few Gab-friendly Mastodon instances. Still, you don’t see the fediverse being overrun by the alt-right. Even if ActivityPub enables propagation of Mastodon message through server-to-server federation, administrators can block other instances from federating through their own. Enough blocking, and a particular instance is effectively left as an isolated little island, all alone in the fediverse.

Another interesting discussion that has surfaced recently is how Mastodon client app developers should handle Gab. Their beloved apps will soon be openly used to spread alt-right propaganda. Gab’s imminent adaption of Mastodon has forced many app developers to make a conscious choice in the matter.

Do You Even Understand How Crowdfunding Works?

So you think you understand how crowdfunding works? Spoiler alert: You don’t. Now let me enlighten you so you don’t look like a dumb-ass.

Crowdfunding is a brilliant way for individuals and companies to raise money for a project they want to get going. Not everyone can – or will – go the venture capitalist route, and for them, sites like Kickstarter is an alternative way to fund their adventures.

The Kickstarter posts I’ve published over the last year have been exclusively about the dark side of crowdfunding. They have told the stories about game development campaigns that have either failed miserably, or are long overdue on their estimated delivery dates.

Although it might very well look like it, I’m not trying to shame anyone (too much) in these posts. Software projects are incredibly complex endeavors, and getting everything you promised delivered on time is basically impossible1.

In this post, however, I’ll do something a little different. I won’t focus on the crowdfunding campaigns themselves. Instead, we’ll turn the spotlight the people pledging to them. A lot of these people don’t seem to understand how crowdfunding actually works, and it’s really grinding my gears!

You Don’t Own The Things You Buy

So you thought the digital music, movies, books, and games you buy are yours to enjoy forever? That’s only natural to think, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

It might not come as a huge surprise that you don’t own the music you listen to on Spotify, or the series and movies you watch on Netflix. These services are, after all, subscription based. If you cancel your subscription, you lose access to the service, and by natural extension, everything the service provided.

In many cases, you’ll find the same entertainment elsewhere. There’s a myriad of music and video streaming services online, and many of the them have much of the same content in their selection. There are, of course, a lot of exclusives, but in the case of movies and series, you often only watch them once anyway.

So what about the digital books and computer games you actually purchase? You own them like you would a physical copy, right?

No, that’s not the case.

Technology Won’t Save Us

As Gab embraces ActivityPub, it turns out technology won’t save us from ourselves after all.

I’m a big fan of the ideas behind IndieWeb, the Fediverse, ActivityPub, and the general concept of distributed social networks. You own your content, your personal data isn’t sold to the highest bidder, and the censorship is limited1. I don’t have any factual backing for the following statement, but my impression is that these ideas were first embraced – and implemented – by people leaning towards the bottom left quadrant of the political spectrum. Digital hippies, if you will.

But because of the ongoing purge of many prominent, conspiracy-fueled, hate-mongering bigots from mainstream social networks, people found in the upper right quadrant of the political spectrum no longer feel particularly welcome on these sites. It’s only natural, then, that they start to gravitate towards social networks and sites run by like-minded people.

And with that, the alt-right is coming full steam to the Fediverse.

The Oil Fund: How Norway’s Dirty Money Should be Used

Let me tell you how Norway should use it’s big pile of dirty Oil Fund money.

Norway was traditionally a land of farmers, fishermen, loggers, and miners. Our industry was mostly based on processing these natural resources, and towards the end of the 1960’s Norway’s GDP was comparable to that of Greece.

Today, Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita. We also score consistently well in the World Happiness Report, and in general, Norwegians live a carefree, good life.

There are many reasons this change happened. First and foremost, Norway is located in a relatively quiet and stable part of the world. The population of Northern Europe is for the most part of the same ethnicity. We’re also on the same frequency in terms of political and religious views. The wealth is relatively evenly spread among the population, and our part of the globe is usually spared of the most devastating natural disasters. Without armed conflicts fueled by ethnic violence or religious nonsense, and without the need to rebuild the country every time it’s ruined by a natural disaster, we’ve been able to focus is economic growth.

In 1969, Norway got a major boost on it’s way to the top of the prosperity food chain. The Ekofisk oil field was discovered in the North Sea, and Norway joined an exclusive club of oil producers. The country went from an economy mainly based on processing renewable resources, to one exploiting non-renewable oil and gas resources. I’m not saying Norway wouldn’t have been were we are today without the Ekofisk discovery. Our Scandinavian neighbors are proof of that. Sweden, Denmark, and Finland all have a generally happy population, and a high GDP.

But the black gold sure helped.