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The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is responsible. Universes of... Video
The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is responsible. Universes of virtually unlimited complexity can be created in the form of computer programs.
We have come through a strange cycle in programming, starting with the creation of programming itself as a human activity. Executives with the tiniest smattering of knowledge assume that anyone can write a program, and only now are programmers beginning to win their battle for recognition as true professionals. Not just anyone, with any background, or any training, can do a fine job of programming. Programmers know this, but then why is it that they think that anyone picked off the street can do documentation? One has only to spend an hour looking at papers written by graduate students to realize the extent to which the ability to communicate is not universally held. And so, when we speak about computer program documentation, we are not speaking about the psychology of computer programming at all - except insofar as programmers have the illusion that anyone can do a good job of documentation, provided he is not smart enough to be a programmer.
I hope that with our music we can inspire other people to be creative and to use their imagination, because it is something that is so lacking nowadays. You have virtual reality, MTV, video games and VCR's. Nobody really wants to think about things or create things. You have programs on a computer which will write a poem for you.
...lots of businesses use computers, only a tiny fraction of them are in the business of developing software. So the result is, in general, free software is very good for businesses, because businesses appreciate the four freedoms, just as individuals do in their leisure time ... support for a proprietary program is typically a monopoly. Only the developer has the source code, so only the developer can make a change, and if a user wants a change, the user has to beg the developer, or even pray to the developer: "Oh, mighty developer, please make this change for me". Sometimes the developer says: "Pay us and we'll listen to your problem". If the user pays, the developer says: "Thank you very much. In six months there will be an upgrade, buy the upgrade and you will see if we have fixed your problem, and you will see what new problems we have in store for you". But with free software anyone that has a copy, can read the source codes, master it and begin offering support, so it's a free market and pretty easy to enter. As a result, all those companies and organizations and agencies that say they really need good support, and say that they think that free market generally provides better things to the buyer, rationally speaking, they should insist on using free software so they can get their support through the free market instead of from a monopoly. Isn't it ironic that the proprietary software developers call us communists? We are the ones who have provided for a free market, where they allow only monopoly. More than that, we are the ones that respect private property, and they don't. Companies like Microsoft and Apple, and so many others, they don't respect your private property, in fact they say that your "copy" is their property. They say everything is their property, their idea of private property is: everything belongs to them, like the tzars. So, by contrast, your copy of a free program is your property, and you are free to use it in all the ethical ways. But it goes beyond that, because in the free software community we have a decentralized society in which everybody can basically decide what he wants to do, and do it. Whereas with proprietary software it's a command-based system, the executives decide: we want this feature, we do not want that feature, the programmers put it in, and all the users are stuck with it just the same. So, which one is a Soviet-style system? And this leads to another paradox. Usually when there is a choice of products to do a job, we say there is no monopoly. But, when there is a choice between proprietary software products, yes, there is monopoly. Because if the users chooses this proprietary software package, he then falls into this monopoly for support, but if he chooses this proprietary product, he falls into this monopoly for support, so it's a choice between monopolies. And the only way to escape from monopoly is to escape from proprietary software, and that is what the free software movement is all about. We want you to escape and our work is to help you escape. We hope you will escape to the free world. The free world is the new continent in cyberspace that we have built so we can live here in freedom. It's impossible to live in freedom in the old world of cyberspace, where every program has its feudal lord that bullies and mistreats the users. So, to live in freedom we have to build a new continent. Because this is a virtual continent, it has room for everyone, and there are no immigration restrictions. And because there were never indigenous peoples in cyberspace, there is also no issue of taking away their land. So everyone is welcome in the free world, come to the free world, live with us in freedom. The free software movement aims for the liberation of cyberspace and everyone in it.
Stallman, Richard M.
Controlling complexity is the essence of computer programming.
Think of all our knowledge-generating processes, our whole culture and civilization, and all the thought processes in the minds of every individual, and indeed the entire evolving biosphere as well, as being a gigantic computation. The whole thing is executing a self-motivated, self-generating computer program. More specifically it is, as I have mentioned, a virtual-reality program in the process of rendering, with ever-increasing accuracy, the whole of existence.
Computer programming is an art, because it applies accumulated knowledge to the world, because it requires skill and ingenuity, and especially because it produces objects of beauty. A programmer who subconsciously views himself as an artist will enjoy what he does and will do it better.
I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image.
Quantum computation is... a distinctively new way of harnessing nature... It will be the first technology that allows useful tasks to be performed in collaboration between parallel universes. (Ch. 9)
The programmers who write improvements to GCC (or Emacs, or Bash, or Linux, or any GPL-covered program) are often employed by companies or universities. When the programmer wants to return his improvements to the community, and see his code in the next release, the boss may say, "Hold on there--your code belongs to us! We don't want to share it; we have decided to turn your improved version into a proprietary software product." Here the GNU GPL comes to the rescue. The programmer shows the boss that this proprietary software product would be copyright infringement, and the boss realizes that he has only two choices: release the new code as free software, or not at all. Almost always he lets the programmer do as he intended all along, and the code goes into the next release.
Stallman, Richard M.
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