I've been making the following social observation frequently in my talks and presentations for the last two years. While I suppose it's rather forward of me to do so, I've decide to name this principle:
For some time now, this paradoxical principle appears to hold: each day, more lines of freely licensed code exist than ever before in human history; yet, it also becomes increasingly more difficult each day for users to successfully avoid proprietary software while completing their necessary work on a computer.
Motivations & Causes of Kuhn's Paradox
I believe this paradox is primarily driven by the cooption of software freedom by companies that ostensibly support Open Source, but have the (now extremely popular) open source almost everything philosophy.
For certain areas of software endeavor, companies dedicate enormous resources toward the authorship of new Free Software for particular narrow tasks. Often, these core systems provide underpinnings and fuel the growth of proprietary systems built on top of them. An obvious example here is OpenStack: a fully Free Software platform, but most deployments of OpenStack add proprietary features not available from a pure upstream OpenStack installation.
Finally, much (possibly a majority of) computer use in industrialized society is via hand-held mobile devices (usually inaccurately described as “mobile phones”). While some of these devices have Free Software operating systems (i.e., Android/Linux), nearly all the applications for all of these devices are proprietary software.
The explosion of for-profit interest in “Open Source” over the last decade has led us to this paradoxical problem, which increases daily — because the gap between “software under a license respects my rights to copy, share, and modify” and “software that's essential for my daily activities” grows linearly wider with each sunset.
I propose herein no panacea; I wish I had one to offer. However, I believe the problem is exacerbated by our community's tendency to ignore this paradox, and its pace even accelerates due to many developers' belief that having a job writing any old Free Software replaces the need for volunteer labor to author more strategic code that advances software freedom.
Iñaki Arenaza, Aaron Wolf, jrobb, Luca Vinci and 6 others likes this.
Iñaki Arenaza, Milan Zamazal, mnd, mnd and 7 others shared this.