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A Free Digital Society – Speech by Richard Stallman

On April 20, 2011, Richard Stallman was invited by STWing and Dining Philosophers to the University of Pennsylvania to deliver a speech, titled “A Free Digital Society” . Below is a video recording of the speech, recorded by myself (Philip Peng):

I apologize ahead of time for the shaky first few minutes (I was trying to securely attach my cellphone camera on my laptop using masking tape) as well as the few sections where video were accidentally cut out (due to either the phone falling off my laptop or my cell phone’s internal memory running out) and had to be concatenated together. It was unexpected that there were no others recording the speech, so I tried my best.

The video is encoded and recompressed using ffmpeg2theora to Ogg Theora/Vorbis. For those using web browsers not yet supporting html5’s new ‘video’ tag, the free Cortado streaming app is embedded. The video is also licensed under a CreativeCommons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. The original 1hr 14min .ogv video can be downloaded from any of the following mirrors:

(Philip Peng, STWing Cronos 2009-2011)

The following is the flyer for the event can be found here with the below description:

On April 20th, University of Pennsylvania’s STWing (Science and Technology Wing residential program) and the Dining Philosophers will be hosting an open speech by Dr. Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement, on the topic of “A Free Digital Society”. The event will take place in Wu and Chen Auditorium in Levine Hall at 4:30-7pm and will be free to attend and open to the general public.

Richard Matthew Stallman (rms) is best known for starting the GNU Project ( http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu.html ), for founding the Free Software Foundation (http://www.fsf.org/ ), and pioneering GNU GPL ( http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html ) as well as other copyleft licenses and free software/tools. The GNU Project currently provides the various tools and software that, with the addition of the Linux kernel, constitutes the popular GNU/Linux operating system that is used in millions of computers today (via various free and non-free distributions such as gNewSense and Ubuntu).

Over the years, Stallman has been an outspoken advocate and political activist for the free software movement (note: “open source” is different from “free software”; see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html ), always encouraging others to keep the “hacker” culture alive. Since the mid-1990s, Stallman spends much of his time delivering speeches on free software, copyright ethics, and other related topics, not all technical in nature, with most targeted at the general public. He has received numerous awards and recognitions (listed on his personal website: http://stallman.org/#serious ) and is viewed by many as an internationally renowned and leading figure in the computer software community.

Stallman summarizes his “A Free Digital Society” speech, alternatively titled “What Makes Digital Inclusion Good or Bad?”, with the following:

Activities directed at “including” more people in the use of digital technology are predicated on the assumption that such inclusion is invariably a good thing. It appears so, when judged solely by immediate practical convenience. However, if we also judge in terms of human rights, whether digital inclusion is good or bad depends on what kind of digital world we are to be included in. If we wish to work towards digital inclusion as a goal, it behooves us to make sure it is the good kind.

Please spread the word, mark down the date, and bring your friends! Copies of Stallman’s book of essays, “Free Software, Free Society,” will also be available for sale with a portion of the proceeds going to the Free Software Foundation (a free copy can also be found at http://shop.fsf.org/product/free-software-free-society-2/ ).

We hope to see you there! All the best,

STWing http://www.stwing.upenn.edu
The Dining Philosophers http://dp.seas.upenn.edu

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