FLO as label and FLO-FOSS-FLOSS terminology

Continuing the discussion from Running list of misc complaints about non-FLO stuff:

On the benefits of FLO

Although ranting might be beneficial in aiding others to feel our pain (and stories are great), I think one thing we do poorly in the FLO world is explaining the benefits of stuff being FLO.

If you are not a developer, you probably won’t care that a software is libre.

The benefit of a software being open source is that you could modify it, but if you don’t have the ability to do so (ie. you have never programmed anything), you won’t find any value in having the code of a software.

One could understand the value of libre software if they had access to a platform where they could post feature bounties and have people code the features for them. Here the distinction between libre and freedom-depriving software would be clearer.

I would be useful to use every FOSS website to try to spread awareness on why users might find it more perennial to use FOSS.

I tried to do that on a website I manage (and to distinguish between “free” and “free”):

FOSS terminology is ineffective

In English we say “free”, which makes people see only the “gratis” aspect of it.

In French we say “libre”, and although it has the same root as “liberté” (freedom). This has the merit to make the distinction between free as in freedom and free has in free beer. But “logiciel libre” is weird because this doesn’t really mean anything. It could mean that the software has some free will or something. I wish people had chosen “logiciel libérateur” instead.

Conversely, we say “proprietary software” and “logiciel propriétaire”, which just makes FOSS look like some communist utopia, fighting against propriety. I think this makes people miss the major point of FOSS, that is: it empowers you, and no one can put you on a leash ; you stay free.

I wish we called “proprietary software” something more violent like “freedom-depriving software” or “imprisoning software”. More and more, French-speaking people are replacing “logiciel propriétaire” (which also doesn’t mean anything, unless software can own stuff) by “logiciel privateur” (software that deprives).

It’s interesting— these days I have the same reaction to the word “proprietary” as to “freedom-depriving”. They’re almost a logical equivalent, and I cringe when I hear businesses advertising their “proprietary formula” or whatever as if it’s a good thing. But I remember years ago, before I discovered software freedom, when the word had more or less the opposite connotation to me. The train of thought went something like, if their formula isn’t better than the generic stuff, why would they bother keeping it proprietary?

So in short, I think I agree. I suspect many Software Freedom activists have a blind spot here. When you’ve lived with negative associations around the word “proprietary” for so long, it’s easy to forget that pointing out that software is proprietary doesn’t necessarily put others off from using it!

We can also continue efforts to educate people about the evils of proprietary software, but we can probably do more effective advocacy with more self-explanatory terms. Same goes for libre vs gratis, actually (and why I almost exclusively say “Software Freedom” or “FLO Software” rather than “Free Software”).

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I never got a reply from anyone about what the good critical term was to be the antonym of FLO. I asked about it in another topic, but it makes sense to bring that piece over here instead:

To me, Ivan Illich’s book Conviviality and his concept of “convivial tools”, are ways to frame the divide that is close to the divide between FLO and non-FLO.

What’s the term for the opposite of “convivial”?

This reminds me of the useful terms prosocial and antisocial[1]

  1. related from stallman.org: Anti glossary ↩︎

anti convivial

It’s a term Ivan Illich crafted in the 1970s.Wait, there is a distinction between two types of tools:

Les outils conviviaux sont alors les outils maniés (et non manipulés) par ces individus dans cette société.

I don’t know how it translate to English.

Maybe :

manié = used / handled
manipulé = operated



anticonvivial tools = manipulative/manipulatory tools

Ivan Illich, Tools for conviviality :

Today I stumbled upon the term “enslaveware”.

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