Telematics, the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics, is the most crucial industry sector for the future of humanity. It is key to the indispensable updating and possible deepening of our democratic systems, through their adequate extension to the global level and to the main systems of public opinion formation. Only such extension, in fact, will avoid that citizens of the world will stand, both powerless and unaware, while largely unaccountable interests lead them to ultimate nuclear, environmental and biological catastrophe.
The patterns of control over network-enabled software that will become legal and predominant over the next few years, will weigh more than anything on a definite slide of humanity towards, either its extinction, or an unprecedented deepening of democracy and freedom.
Telematics can be defined as ways software programs are used to control hardware devices and data networks to provide a communication experience. Software is not only the key element of information networks like the Internet and the Web but, by now and increasingly, of practically all those media that originated as bare telecommunication channels, such as: radio, analog TV, satellite and digital TV, mobile phones.
Paradoxically, over the next few years, the practical nature of certain telematics innovations, especially those enabling remote democratic organizing and audience-controlled mass self communications, and the way our democratic societies will legislate and enforce their access and control, will be the main potential instrument for reviving democracy and therefore substantially reducing the abovementioned risks (3).
SOFTWARE IN THE CURRENT HISTORICAL CONTEXT
The mounting pressures exerted by imperial ambitions, media concentration and corporate globalization over outdated constitutional systems are rapidly eroding the ability of liberal democracies to provide for their citizens’ wellbeing and survival.
By all accounts, it is increasingly probable that a major global catastrophe will take place and trigger large-scale non-conventional military conflicts, leading humanity to extinction or to the further entrenching of durable forms of inhumane global governance.
The power dynamics exposing us to such grave risks are neither natural nor inevitable.
They are the direct product of the inability of humans to establish and maintain sufficiently rational forms of governance, through rapidly changing social and technological contexts.
In particular, it is caused by the increasing gap between the frantic development of private technological innovations and the actual advancement of technological progress, which materializes only when access and control to such innovations become available to a large majority of people.
In fact, when important technological innovations remain controlled and accessible by a small minority of privileged individuals, through cost of use or right of access, they have the regressive effect of increasing their power to advance their exclusive interests.
Technological progress and the expansion of democratic forms of governance have historically promoted each other through synergic dynamics. More recently, however, the rapidly increased pace of technological innovation, generated by such positive feedback loops, have left democratic theory and institutions gaping behind in awe.
Today, technological innovations in every field of society are increasingly driven by telematics and software applications, which constitute overwhelmingly the defining instruments of their research, development and production.
Increasingly, the controlling element and practical non-emotional economic value of any product or service in the economy is constituted by or attained by software.
Software is the defining component of almost all current telematics services.
Use of telematic services and devices occupies about 5 hours of the average day of a western citizen, and it has become the gateway for well over half of all his human communications, and growing.
In our interaction with content, software, at the same time, empowers us, and strongly controls and constrains us. It interactively controls – on the basis user input and often its detailed profile – the available content, the easy-to-find content, the navigation options, the personalization of advertising, the data formats I can access, how and if I can read content I have purchased, and much more.
It also can, and often does, maintain growing user interaction records with very limited possibility for users to verify their fair use. If often becomes content itself when the ways in which it allows content interaction become a greater attractive to users than the content itself.
“And the good news is that nobody owns software” (2). Not today. Not yet.
Nobody can ever own it, just as no one can ever own any product of the human intellect. Nobody rightly claim property rights over software, or a movie or a song; such as those we can claim for our car or our piece of land.
Nobody holds, and can ever hold, any kind of permanent right over software. Regardless of what the media and public relations industry lead us to think, the property or ownership of software is currently illegal.
Yes, nobody owns software because our western constitutions do not allow it. They do not allow the ownership of any product of the human intellect. In fact, the Constitution of the United States gives the US Congress an optional power to temporary, and only temporary, grant authors the exclusive right over an intellectual good, provided that such grant ultimately promote the progress of society. Such granting power is given to US Congress on an objective conditions – that it is applied “for limited times” – and a subjective conditions – that it ultimately “promotes progress of science and useful Arts” (1).
So therefore, whenever you hear anyone use the phrase “Intellectual Property Rights” while referring to copyrights or patents that someone holds over certain intellectual goods; it is not different, from a legal and constitutional point of view, from using “Children Property Rights” when referring to the temporary and limited rights that a parent holds over his own children.
All-powerful media and software giants, however, with the increasing support of political elites, have been working hard to convince us of the contrary, by extensively calling “property rights” what are in reality “conditional temporary rights”, aiming to extend more and more the duration and scope of the same. In fact, they have almost realized the de-fact property of ideas, when they have successfully (in the US) lobbied for the extension of duration of copyright, at a time when the majority of the economic useful life of intellectual goods has been shrinking dramatically. Such shrinking is due to the accelerated of pace social and technological change that renders all creations largely obsolete in a very short time.
CRITICALITIES OF TELEMATICS IN DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES
TELEMATICS INFLUENCE ON DEMOCRATIC SYSTEMS IS HIGHLY UNDERRATED BY MEDIA
Telematics, especially broadcast media, have an unaccountable transformational influence on democratic systems, that is much deeper than what political and economic elites forcefully lead people to think, through their control of the media itself.
This happens and will continue to happen because it is in the main financial and power retaining interest of those controllers.
In fact, ownership of mainstream domestic media brings the highest potential economic benefits, to those corporations that depend on a political protection to maintain and extend profitable market dominance that they would otherwise loose in a “free market”.
It is no coincidence that many who own the main agenda-setting media in Italy, are the same that placed their hands on the private monopolies created out of former public monopolies. It is no coincidence that major US military/industrial groups, such as general electric, own major global news and history channels, such as NBC and the History Channel (9).
SOFTWARE PATENTS, LICENSES AND TRUSTS
It is undeniable that copyright has been legal for software, and that it has been the main incentive driving an accelerated pace of fantastic informatics innovations. Much less certain, instead, is the way this model has, especially in recent decades, succeeded in spreading actual technological progress, especially when measured in comparative terms among countries and social classes.
The main reason it worked was that organizations had incentives to invest in research and development of new product in the expectation of ripping profit by temporary controlling access to those innovations.
Since the start, this model has had some negative effects as well. In fact, the temporary denial of access to those innovations reduces dramatically the number of people able to enjoy the benefits of such innovation, as well as the number of creators able to leverage on them to further create.
These negative effects have now become much more acute, for the following interconnected phenomena.
1. The marginal cost of creating an additional copy of an innovation has reduced to almost zero, increasing hugely the opportunity cost of preventing such access to the public.
2. Access to a large numbers of updated intellectual goods, thanks to the communication revolution, has become both the primary means of production and the primary raw material of both research and production on new intellectual goods.
3. While the duration of copyright has been extended to many decades, the product life of intellectual goods, especially technical information like software, has decreased to a few years at most.
4. The increase in the legal scope and sheer number of software patents in the US has allowed few software giants holding hundreds of licenses – while exempting each through bi-lateral patent pools – are in the position of suing or threatening to sue any smaller competitor that may get close to compete with them in profitable markets.
The combination of these phenomena create a situation of large economic inefficiencies in various markets and of danger for freedom and democracy.
GROWING COMPLEXITY OF TELEMATIC POLICIES & CITIZENSHIP IN THE DIGITAL AGE
The growing gap between the complexity of policies related to intellectual goods and educational opportunities of most, is a formidable impediment to citizens’ ability to supervise over possible severe abuses of their constitutional rights by PA and other entities.
Their increased use of software in the exercise of their prerogatives and obligations as citizens exposes their essential constitutional rights, such as vote and privacy, to large scale and continuous abuse by an increasing number of entities.
Those in the position to exercise such abuses in a huge scale, includes large numbers of people and entities, with a motive, that can gather the necessary sufficient funds, capacity or connections.
COPYLEFT FLOSS AND FREEDOM OF WEB USERS
It is a great danger for democracy that in an era when our constitutional rights of speech and civic participation, are increasingly exercised by interacting with devices connected to software-controlled telematics services, we have no way to verify what is the software controlling those services.
The Web started as a way to navigate across a huge decentralized repositories of documents stored in different websites. Today, the typical web page is not made of a single document but of ready-made content, compiled dynamically from various data sources by software. Web applications, such as Google, Yahoo, Amazon or your work intranet, have become a simple gateway by which we use, free or at a charge, software programs, in order to filter, navigate, modify, or, in general, interact with data and documents.
The invention of FLOSS software licensing has brought and still brings a great amount of freedom to desktop software users and, to a lesser degree, to developers and managers of server-side applications. Its success has been mostly due to the widespread adoption of GNU GPLv2 license and other copyleft licenses, which have ensure virtuous economic dynamics while preserving the freedom of software and its derivatives.
As more and more user computing moves from the desktop to the Internet, copyleft FLOSS is ordained to fail in bringing freedom to software users because the copyleft provisions of the GPLv2 do not consider web users as software users. Currently, copyleft FLOSS licenses paradoxically prohibit the developer of a web-accessible derivative version from requiring his own licensees to share those same freedoms with the actual web users.
This creates the current paradox where software users globally, who increasingly use software through a web browser interface, end up having no rights at all beyond the right of use, with or without charge. Worse even, most of the software they are running is a derivative of FLOSS software – developed mostly by thousands of well-intentioned volunteer developers – becomes the most powerful instrument for large web software giants to keep people with even less rights, than those given to them by traditional desktop proprietary software licenses.
Authors of new version of the GNU GPL copyleft FLOSS license, the most used license for free software, have intended to fix such “freedom bug” for a long time. Much as the inventors of copyleft software licenses, used the excessive powers given by laws to holders of copyrighted material, in order to increase the power of their users, I will later propose that we use this new “freedom bug” as the primary tool to fix itself.
Unfortunately, from the final drafts of such license, it appears that fixes will only be partial and optional. Such optional clause, the Affero clause, states in fact that web users of derivative software should be able to download the software they are using from a link on the same website.
It is not clear, nor probable at this stage, that most copyright holders of widely-used web-accessible FLOSS will decide to make their software available under this new license, and decide to apply the optional Affero clause.
An even greater and crucial problem is that, paraphrasing the words of Richard Stallman, the inventor of FLOSS and one of the co-drafters of this license, “even such clause, does not provide the web user any means to verify that the software he is downloading from the provided link is really the software that is actually running in that moment”; or, for that matter, was running 2 hours ago or will be running next week.
HOW DEMOCRACY SHOULD FIGHT BACK
I outline below a set of proposed actions that, if enacted, decisively and concurrently, by a large number of elected national legislative bodies, would, I claim, reduce substantially the grave risks outlined at the onset of this writing.
These proposals are highly dependent on one another in order to be effective, though to different degrees.
ENACT INTEGRATED AND SWEEPING MEDIA ANTITRUST LAWS
I ask you to give a special chance to what I will be proposing here, by considering that the reason the scope of what I will propose will sounds odd to you – and squarely outside “the range of acceptable opinions” held by mainstream politicians and media – may be because such ranges are indirectly, but nonetheless very firmly controlled, on the long term, by the main loosers of such proposals: the owners and controllers of mainstream media, and other telematic infrastructure.
In a media environment where separation of media communications in different channels or means, becomes impossible, the way to measure antitrust limits should be based on the percentage of the total time a web user, reader or member of the audience, spends placing “primary attention” on printed material or telematic services that are, fully or partially, controlled by a certain entity.
For reasons explained below, antitrust limits should be very severe in contemporary society, even considering the arguable negative increased costs of the average media product, due to the reduced possibility of realizing economies of scale.
Here is an example of the kind of antitrust laws that could be put in place, based on the mentioned assumptions.
No entity, foreign or domestic, should hold a controlling stake of a more than a maximum percentage of the total “primary attention” of citizens, within a geographical area. Such local maximum percentages should be set to 4% at the national level, 6% in the province, and 8% within a city.
No entity, owning more than 5% of the total shares of companies that are in the business of production or reselling of advertising in that geographical area, can control stakes of media entities that exceed half of the local maximum percentage.
No entity, owning more than 2% of the total shares of companies in any kind of business in that geographical area, can control stakes of media entities that exceed one quarter of the local maximum percentage.
National and local government should redirect 50% of their current financing of “public” media – that are currently controlled by semi-political personnel mostly appointed by the leaders of the parties of governing coalitions – to finance a very extensive, decentralized and democratic program of audience-financed media.
According to this method, each citizen, at the time of his tax declaration, will choose among candidate non-profit media outlets – not accepting donations or advertising – one or more to which he will instruct the PA to donate 200 euros. This would enable the economic sustainability to hundreds of independent media outlets that would respond only to their audience and sympathizers.
These proposed actions are just examples of ways in which societal communications could be radically democratized, and a true free market of ideas can be created.
In fact, every liberal and neo-liberal economist has always agreed on the need for a minimum set of governmental rules, including antitrust laws, in every industry sector to set off the virtuous dynamics of the “free market”.
Nowadays, on a national and a global level, telecommunications and software – sectors whose functioning according to “free market” rhetoric would most be necessary for a democratic society – are paradoxically the most monopolized and “oligopolized”, because of practically inexistent antitrust laws. The absence of any cry whatsoever from the liberal or neo-liberal politicians and intellectuals, to liberalize those markets, says a lot about their honesty.
In fact, a monopoly in the market of shoes in a country will surely result in a substantial long-term rise in their cost, and a decrease in their quality and variety. That’s bad but bearable.
A far more serious problem arises when monopolies and oligopolies arise in the market of ideas themselves, in those sectors directly influencing public opinion.
If a monopoly arises in the markets of instruments used by humans to access, navigate, create and spread ideas, the same effects follows on price, variety and quality that we expect in other sectors. But not only, it also has the effect of giving the relative market leaders a very controlling stake over the most crucial economic asset attainable in the economy of a democratic society: control over public opinion.
The average person in western countries spends about 5 hours a day consuming telematic services, that are run and managed by software, on devices that are increasingly controlled by software: satellite and terrestrial TV, Internet and Web.
A small part of this time is spent navigating and searching for content through the accessible and most promoted options made available to my specific geographical area by powerful private interests, via remote control and increasingly via software-driven user interfaces.
The largest majority of this time is spent consuming content of primarily entertaining or “informative” nature, which is selectively made available, as well as easy and cheap to access, by those same interests. A miniscule time – but increasing for a few, mostly privileged, citizens – is spent actively contributing content by submitting, as well as remixing, or submitting descriptive information to, existing content.
In contrast, people spend much less time communicating to friends, relatives, party or union co-members or work colleagues. Home, work, and squares attending speech events, were a prime locus of political opinion formation. For good reason our democratic systems constitutionally protected the free access to such communication spaces to anyone, to ensure the maintenance of a reasonably free market of ideas.
People spent hours a day practicing these largely horizontal and free mass self communications. They constituted the so-called “public sphere”, a basic precondition for the very idea of democracy, whereas ideas would freely compete within society for the approval of the largest number of citizens.
Today, technological innovation and social changes have brought citizens to replace those traditional mass self communications with software-mediated remote communications that are mostly vertically-controlled, highly passive and one way, and covertly mediated.
The consequence of this is a huge power over of public opinion in the hands of controllers of those distribution networks, hardware and software, that are predominant, or the sole available, for the consumption of those services.
Their goal is, quite obviously, the furthering of their financial interests.
Core to this goal, is to protect their market dominance from the risks of a “free market”, through the extension of their power of influence over public opinion to further such interests, and those of their main politician friends, financers, clients, partners and shareholders.
In order to maintain such influence, they first of all must ensure the largest majority remains convinced that such power is much smaller than it really is or inexistent, in order to avoid that a spreading of such understanding among citizens may help modify laws and constitutions in ways that would seriously decentralize and democratize such power.
AMEND NATIONAL CONSTITUTIONS TO MAKE THEM UPDATABLE BY CURRENT GENERATIONS
Amendments to the constitutions of democratic nations should ensure that highly democratic Constitutional Reviews would be called every several years or on request of a majority of citizens. Several carefully developed provisions should ensure both the highest levels of democratic and informed participation and an effective contribution from constitutional engineering experts.
This procedure is currently present, although in a form drained of any actual effectiveness, in article 109 of the UN Charter.
As far as concrete provisions for these amendments, it could be stated, for example, that the election of Constitutional Review Assemblies, and other re-constituting bodies, may be reserved to citizens that have never been to political office or official role in political organizations. This would reduce the chance that a governing majority of professional politicians could dangerously reduce minority and civil rights through constitutional amendments.
In fact, our current constitutional systems are structurally defenseless in front of the scope of the latest change in the nature of human communications, just as they were – and still are – in front of the advent of pervasive broadcast media.
In fact, original drafters of most national democratic constitutions were clearly unable to predict the nature and pace of changes in human communications, financial globalization and military technology, which we have witnessed.
Such constitutions do not provide, nearly the required checks and balances, that are necessary to prevent the controllers and “market leaders” in those sectors from fatally diminishing the effective sovereignty of citizens in liberal democracies.
The risk is the slide of our liberal democracies towards novel forms of multi-party electoral undemocratic regimes.
These constitutional provisions would enable future generations to democratically evolve their constitutions, ensuring that radical societal changes would fatally weaken their ability to put in practice their inspiring principles.
GUARANTEE FULL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS COMPLAINCE FOR SOFTWARE USED BY PA
Here is how PAs can enforce the constitutional rights of their citizens and at the same time spur growth in their domestic software industry. These provisions are meant to be best enacted progressively over a few years.
1. Severely limit the ability of exercising domestic commercial activity to those foreign software patent holders, who exercise, or threat to exercise, patent infringements suits against EU-based entities.
2. Reduce the admissible duration of copyright for all intellectual goods to a fixed duration from the date of creation, ranging from 0 to 10 years, depending mostly on the average duration of useful economic life of each type of intellectual good.
3. For all desktop and network-enabled software used or financed by the PA, guarantee full constitutional rights by giving both the right, and concrete means, to acces the source code of software used at any given time.
Require that all desktop and network-enabled software used, managed and acquired by the PA be FLOSS.
Require that any PA-financed development of new server software, or extension of current FLOSS, be never released under any license, but instead be given “access” to all citizens through a Universal Public Access Policy. Through such “Access Policy”, national Pas, and other guarantors, would affirm to all citizens the following conditional rights:
I. Basic FLOSS freedoms: to use, inspect, improve and create a modified version.
II. Copyleft obligations, extended to all citizens (7). The obligation for all authors of derivatives of PA software, to make available any modified version not only to users, and users through a network interface, but to all citizens.
III. The right, and the concrete means, to verify that all the software running on servers hosting PA services corresponds, at any given time, to that available for download through the network session.
In order to provide these freedoms, the software would not technically be released to anyone, but it would legally be given network “access to”. In order to provide these freedoms, national PAs would require the signing of a copyright assignment from anyone wishing to audit, modify or extend such software.
In order to promote a healthy economy around PA-contracted software development and an active development of software application over which the PA has decided to invest, the PA, for less privacy critical systems, would allow non-PA derivative authors to choose to retain, for 1 to 3 years, the exclusive right to modification to the source code – except the right of the PA and fixing bugs or porting to previously unsupported hardware or operating system.
An exception would be done for desktop software, not meant to interact with any kind of personal data of individual citizens, including PA employees. In these cases, the ability to audit the software source code may be enough.
4. Legislate the obligation of the PA to render all its service, documents and data available also in publicly accessible data formats, and whose viewing is available through FLOSS software, which is available in versions running on all networked-enabled devices, used by over 1% of the national population.
In a global software market dominated by a handful of giant corporations through patents, proprietary licenses and data formats, the choice by a single nation to stand behind its citizens’ constitutional rights could come at a substantial cost.
The current state of affairs, however, is too dangerous for democracy. It seriously damages the proper functioning of a democracy, because it decreased efficiency and increased costs of its operations, because it stifles the domestic informatics industry and, most of all, it critically reduces freedom and democracy.
Such impact varies widely depending on the private or public of the data manipulated by the software and, especially, weather it is used on a desktop or on a remote server, through a web browser for example.
Standalone client applications running in PA offices are often used for producing non-personal documents or exchanging non-personal communications within the PA. In such case, there are just increased costs and decreased efficiency.
PROMOTE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS OF NEW MODELS DEMOCRACY FOR THE DIGITAL AGE
Legally enable and finance, local experiments of new forms of direct and participatory democracy, which take full account of the deeply changed nature of human communications.
Such experiments should focus on rendering available devices and software, necessary for the practice of formal and informal democratic participation and deliberative discourse. These should be completely integrated with in-person participation, in-person participatory meetings, and all remote means of communication that are today readily available and familiar to all citizens, such as telephone and post.
Main goal of such experiments should be to deal face on with the critical issues of the privacy of communications, as well as with the security and privacy of vote and other citizens’ civic contribution.
For this reason, PAs should promote experiments that promote two opposite approaches to such crucial problems.
On one side, it should finance and legally enable local PAs attempts to technically restore and enhance the actual enforcement of constitutional rights of privacy and vote of citizens. Such local PAs would attempt to make so that all citizens have readily available, for a low costs, computing devices through which they can exercise with full certainty, or almost full, their rights to private digital text and voice communications towards other citizens and in their exercise of their prerogatives and duties as citizens.
Conversely, it should also finance experiments in models of democracy that – taking for granted the fact the communication privacy is today accessible to well-financed organized criminals and those in power positions– would experiment sweeping new forms of democracy that do away with the secrecy of vote and the secrecy of participation in religious or political organizations.
Such solutions should experiment locally repeatedly and extensively, and eventually deployed to increasingly larger geographical level.
FINANCE GLOBAL DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUENT PROCESSES
Greatly finance and promote, through every diplomatic channel, the discussion and design of, both feasible and sufficiently democratic, organizational processes, electoral processes and telematic infrastructure necessary to initiate proper global constituent processes.
In fact, the creation and enforcement of laws, which would enable telematics to play its necessary role in enhancing democratic systems, cannot succeed if the attempt to get them enacted and enforced stops at the national level.
The attempt by any one country, to deploy the sweeping legislation changes, required to create a sufficiently plain field in their domestic market of ideas, would be countered by huge outcries by elite corporations and countries, about a supposed attack on freedom of speech and freedom of “property”. Even if enacted, they would be strongly weakened by the transnational nature of major telematics infrastructure, as well as their past concession of sovereignty, through international treaties, to undemocratic global governmental organizations (wto, wipo, etc.).
The opposition of domestic national media would be even stronger, as major shareholders are often the largest and most parasitic economic groups of the country, and they would see threatened their direct control over public opinion formation and, therefore, over corrupt friendly legislators.
It is clear to most, that the people of just a single country, can hardly have any hope that their government – no matter how smart and honest – is be able to seriously attempt to resolve their most crucial collective problems and threats. The most urgent of those threats are nuclear and environmental disasters, but these are rapidly being compounded by new threats, sparked by technical innovations.
Unfortunately, it is not at all clear to most, that the solution to those global threats is exactly the same solution that largely resolved those same problems within democratic nations: a functioning democratic government. For example, large scale health damage caused by coal factories in early 20th century England was eventually stopped by laws passed and enforced by a democratic government; the insecurity and continuous fighting among small states and city states within nations, typical of many that are today democratic, were solved by giving and enforcing a monopoly of violence to democratically-controlled public agencies based on the rule of law.
Unfortunately, these same systems of governance, that we take for granted as the best way to manage power in our national communities, when envisioned on a global scale, appear to us, in our media-shaped collective imaginary, as undesirable, impossible, “the end of freedom”, “the realization of a world dictatorship”.
Much of this paradox has to do ultimately with the pervasiveness of nationalist and religious propaganda, that have so strongly been inculcated in all of us from the major opinion formation structures of society.
The nationalist and religious propaganda has historically been an unfortunate necessity for the survival of many peoples. It has been militarily essential to instill in poor young people the determination to volunteer happily to risk their life to kill other poor young people that happen to be born within another country or religion.
Although useful and necessary at times, as we have seen, it was often abused as the primary fuel of national propaganda efforts to convince them of inexistent imminent dangers posed by a foreign nation, its citizens, or entire ethnic groups or religions.
Today, such “necessary illusions”(8) represent the greatest obstacle to humans’ awareness of the dire need of a rapid globalization of democracy, through the democratic creation of a fully empowered and democratic Global Federal Government. These “emotionally potent oversimplifications” (8) are used by economic and political elites to blind people from the oneness of humanity, its complete interdependence and the fundamental similarity all humans based on shared basic needs and aspirations.
I hope to have convinced you of the great importance of telematics public policies and telematics solutions to the promotion of a positive future for humanity. This outcome cannot avoid the need to tackle the great tasks of radically democratizing human communications and building a global federal government.
Readily-available and self-controlled telematic services and devices – especially those in support of remote democratic discourse, integrated with in-person, post and telephone communications – can become a decisive factor in convincing world citizens of the practical feasibility of having fair global elections, through the enablement of global democratic discourse on equal basis across great differences of language, habits, means and societal values.
Most importantly, they are the key element through which proper global constituent processes may be eventually initiated, and conducted in very democratic, participatory and informed manner. In fact, those tools are crucial to leverage limited translation resources, the creation of cost-effective large-scale remote democratic discourses between millions of world citizens, sampled world citizens and their elected representatives.
The level of democratic participation and citizens’ control over those processes is, in fact, the factor that can best guarantee that the outcome of such constituent processes will be a global institutional architecture with sufficient checks and balances to maintain a course of self-improvement.
PA(s): Public Administration(s). In our liberal democratic system, PA defines all those organizations, and their appointed sub-organizations, which are elected and financed by all people who have citizenship right in a given geographical area.
Nonetheless, when media or software commercial conferences refer to PA, they almost exclusively refer to the less critical bureaucratic organizations that provide various kinds of services to citizens under the indirect control of the executive branch of government.
FLOSS: Free/Libre and Open Source Software defines all of those software applications for which an “adequate” set of selected and conditional rights have been conceded by its copyright holders to at least one person, with or without charge. Which sets are to be considered “adequate” is decided by appointed committees of 2 US-based non-profit organizations, on the basis of definitions (4)(5) written by the founders of such organizations and maintained by other appointed committees or the founders themselves (8) in such organizations.
1. http://pages.citebite.com/q1p2g9w3g1hwr – Text – (Art. I, Sect. 8, 8th paragraph, United States Constitution).
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NorfgQlEJv8 – Video stream – see minutes 4:00-6:40 and beyond, (Eben Moglen, co-draft of first and most used free software license at a Software conference, Sept. 2006)
3. http://youtube.com/v/KSxYEzSpFdc.swf – Video stream – Noam Chomsky speaking on prospects of democracy and human survival
4. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html – The Free Software Definition by the Free Software Foundation
5. http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php – The Open Source Definition by the Open Source Initiative
6. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/categories.html – CopyleftedSoftware – The Definition of Copylefted Free Software by the Free Software Foundation
7. http://pages.citebite.com/i1j2t9y7m6xxd – Section 7.b.4 of the latest draft of the GNU General Public License.
8. http://pages.citebite.com/v1d3p7o0n3jfp -Text – Book excerpt,“Necessary Illusions” by Noam Chomsky 1989, Chapt. 1.
9. http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart.php – Data – 2005, Chart of media ownership in the US.
10. http://pages.citebite.com/l1r3b8n3v8mlt – Text – Charter of the United Nations, article 109.
If you have problems with any of the provided links or have comments and suggestions on the text, please contact the author at: http://www.blog.guerreschi.org
Technical note: You can go to www.getdemocracy.com to download a software application (Mac, Win and Linux) which will allow you to both search, download and watch these and other videos using FLOSS software.
Powered by ScribeFire.