GOSLING members interviewed for CTV's Tech Now

This afternoon Mike Richardson and I (Russell McOrmond) were interviewed by a reporter for CTV's show Tech Now. Tech Now airs as part of the 6pm newscast each Sunday in Ottawa.

The event that inspired the interview was a recent GOSLING project. A group of people in Ottawa got together to create 308 envelopes to send to each of the Members of the Canadian parliament. This envelope contained 2 CDs of Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS), as well as a number of pages and pamphlets of information. (Details of contents)

If you would like to help make MPs aware of the importance of this package, could they please send a letter to their MP. I have set up a sample letter that can be sent directly from this website.

While we will need to wait to see what the edited segment includes, there are a few ideas that were spoken about that I wanted to list. Mike and I were interviewed separately, with Mike at his home and me at the CJOH building downturn so that we could have the parliament buildings in the background. The room we used is the same room used for the CTV show Question Period.

I believe both Mike and I mentioned the size of the commercial FLOSS economy. I had recently listened to an audio BLOG that included a full interview with Eben Moglen (TWIT's FLOSS weekly #13). One of the things he mentioned was that commercial FLOSS represents a 40 Billion dollar (US) economy, approximately half of which is software licensed under the GNU GPL.

From the phone interview yesterday the reporter rightly decided that I would be the one to ask some of the political question. Why send a package to each of the MPs? It is not about convincing the government to purchase more FLOSS software and services, given MPs are not involved in that decision. MPs regulate the software industry, and we need to ensure that the government regulates in a way that the choice to use FLOSS is protected.

The last question I was asked related to how hard I thought the educational process was. I indicated that we had an uphill battle in that most people do not know what software is. Software isn't simply a product that is bought off the shelf, but the rules that computer hardware follows. When people think of software as a set of rules, this encourages them to ask important questions. Who is writing these rules, and who benefits from these rules? I spoke about how we could learn a lot about FLOSS by comparing it to political science and the process that laws are thought of, debated and passed.

I spoke a fair bit about copyright law as an example. The theory is this: since people can use their own technology to infringe copyright, it was decided that laws would be passed to disallow people from controlling their own technology. Once someone other than the owner is in control of the technology, this greatly harms all technology users. I gave the example of someone's child taking their first steps in front of the television set, and the camera automatically disabling because there is no way for the camera to accurately tell the difference between a "pirate" and a "parent".

I spoke about how critical this question of personal control, and accountability and transparency of software, becomes as technology becomes more personal. When we have digital eyeglasses, digital hearing aids, and digitally controlled prosthetic limbs that it should be obvious that the wearers of these technologies should be legally protected to be fully in control of this technology.

I would like to thank William Stewart (Free Open Source Solutions Inc.) for both helping to organize this initiative, as well as contacting the media and setting up this interview.

Russell McOrmond
Policy Coordinator for CLUE: Canada's Association for Open Source http://cluecan.ca
Co-coordinator for GOSLING: Getting Open Source Logic INto Governments http://goslingcommunity.org