A: It’s satrap!
My friend Aaron Swartz died a little more than a year ago. This time last year, I was spending much of my time speaking with journalists and reading what they were writing about Aaron.
Since the anniversary of his death, I have tried to take time to remember Aaron. I’ve returned to the things I wrote and the things I said including this short article — published last year in Red Pepper — that SJ Klein and I wrote together but that I forgot to mention on my blog.
As I said last year at a memorial for Aaron, I think about Aaron frequently and often think about my own decisions in terms of what Aaron would have done. I continued to be optimistic about the potential for Aaron-inspired action.
For years, Mika and I have been planning to do the Tour d’Afrique route (Capetown to Cairo), unsupported, on bike. People that do this type of ride sometimes use an expedition touring frame. I worked with Marty Walsh at Geekhouse to design a bike based on this idea. The concept was a rugged steel touring frame, built for my body and comfortable over long distances, with two quirks:
- It’s designed for 26 inch mountain bike wheels and mountain bike components to ensure that the bike is repairable with parts from the kinds of cheap mountain bikes that can be found almost everywhere in the world.
- It includes S&S torque couplers that let me split the frame in half to travel with the bike as standard luggage.
As our pan-Africa trip kept getting pushed back, so did the need for the bike. Last week, I finally picked up the finished bike from Marty’s shop in Boston. It is gorgeous. I absolutely love it.
I’m looking forward to building up the bicycle over the next couple months and I’ll post more pictures when it’s finished. I am blown away by Marty’s craftsmanship and attention to detail. I am psyched that his donation made this bike possible and that I was able to get the frame while helping cycling in Massachusetts!
In late October, the FSF posted this video of a talk called When Free Software Isn’t (Practically) Better that I gave at LibrePlanet earlier in the year. I noticed it was public when, out of the blue, I started getting both a bunch of positive feedback about the talk as well as many people pointing out that my slides (which were rather important) were not visible in the video!
The talk is very roughly based on this 2010 article and I argue that, despite our advocacy, free software isn’t always (or even often) better in practical terms. The talk moves beyond the article and tries to be more constructive by pointing to a series of inherent practical benefits grounded in software freedom principles and practice.
Most important to me though, the talk reflects my first serious attempt to bring together some of the findings from my day job as a social scientist with my work as a free software advocate. I present some nuggets from my own research and talk about about what they mean for free software and its advocates.