Karen Sandler: Freedom from my heart to the desktop
This is Karen Sandler, the Gnome Foundation's new Executive Director, delivering her keynote speech at OSCon 2011. It is by far and away the best explanation of why software freedom matters that I've heard in a very long time.
It's really interesting to consider, especially in the light of her comments about how many attendees at OSCon were using Apple hardware, and Apple software - Graham and Mike also said they felt Apple users were the majority at the conference.
Software freedom really matters and getting people to use and develop free software is important. But, as Richard Stallman has often said, if we only convince people to use free software because it's technically better, more beautiful or easier to use, then as soon as something that's superior in any of these ways comes along, those users will switch platforms - as have many of the developers at OSCon.
Less people using free software, and less people developing it, is bad for our society. It's bad for people in similar situations to Karen, and it's bad for our democracy when we can no longer trust the result of elections which are carried out on proprietary electronic voting machines.
I'll just add that free software matters in more ways than providing trust in the equipment we use; it also provides us with the opportunity to share our knowledge, our technology and our experiences with other people - something that is almost universally a good thing.