Moving to Freedom, .Org

Standing on the Corner with Pamphlets in Hand

New York Avenue, by Xavier ServettazWelcome to my street corner. I recently listened to a speech by Eben Moglen called “Freedom and the Future of the Net: Why We Win.” Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a transcript of it, but as a value-added service to the MTF community, I transcribed this, where he is discussing how the “artificially large person” (e.g. Christina Aguilera) is manufactured for the purpose of selling things, and:

But all of this depends upon denial. Exclusion. You can’t have it unless you pay. And it’s not actually the best way if you are a musician, to distribute music, to refuse to let people have it. It’s not actually the best way if you are a writer, to get read, to refuse to let people read. The creators by and large want straightforwardly — not surprisingly — a low friction mechanism for giving what they make to people who may want it. And they would like to get paid for that when people like what they make. Where possible, which isn’t always possible, musicians would be very happy busking on a street corner where there are six billion people. Which they now have. In the twenty-first century, there will be no such thing as an unpublished poet, which is good, because in the twentieth century there was damn near no such thing as a published poet.

— Eben Moglen, Freedom and the Future of the Net: Why We Win

This snippet isn’t central to the speech, but it provided the image that inspired this post. Moglen tells it well and creates lots of pictures and ideas in my head. Here we are with this amazing world network where we can all talk to one another. We don’t need someone with a printing press in order to get our words out, and we don’t need someone with deep pockets to create and distribute physical media for music anymore.

My Street Corner

5th Avenue, by Xavier ServettazSo here I am on my street corner. I’m a scribbler instead of a musician, so I have a stack of pamphlets to push into the hands of anyone who will take them. It is great to have the potential for millions and billions of people to read my little screeds, but it’s not so easy to establish myself on a busy corner. My out-of-the-way corner begins with the few people I know personally whom I can coerce into walking by and then humor me by saying, “It looks really nice.” And then, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but it looks nice.”

Another strategy is to hang out by more popular street corners and shout at the crowds gathered there and hope a few people will turn and notice. One corner like this is Free Software Magazine, a site with a good readership and interesting articles about the Free Software Movement. I’ve posted a few comments there with a link back to MTF and have been pleasantly surprised that many people take the time to visit my squalid little corner of the Net. If you are one of those people or if you found me by some other comment or link, thank you for stopping by. You may notice I don’t have a lot of content yet and I’m not posting frequently. It may even appear that I’m ponderously ruminating on nothing in particular.


Thanks to Xavier Servettaz for kindly giving me permission to use his photography here. As far as I know, the pictures in this post are “all rights reserved” by Xavier.