Open Source Politics and Religion

Cultural Intelligence, Definitions
Jon Lebkowsky Bio

Open Source Politics and Religion

I just sent the following to an email list I’m on (Google Group Next Net), and thought it would be worth sharing here:

I’ve been involved with R.U. Sirius in instigating an International Open Source Party (version 2.0 – we tried it before but it didn’t quite launch). He wrote about it here.  This article includes the principles I came up with for Open Source politics, which I include below. Open Source is not a religion, i.e. not based on faith in something that can’t be observed or experienced. It’s about transparency: when we apply the term Open Source we’re talking about following methods and processes in production and distribution such that whatever we define as “source code” can be observed and experienced, so to me it’s the opposite of religion. Eric Hughes once explained to me, when I was new to Open Source thinking, that a particular encryption tool should be Open Source so that its source could be examined and its effectiveness and integrity verified. Politics should be like this, and if we all insisted on this approach, religion would be transformed into practice (a la Buddhism and 4th Way) rather than dogma (a la much of Christianity).

Principles of Open Source Politics:


Many of us who are tech-focused have come to understand the power of open approaches and open architectures. Even technologies that aren’t strictly “Open Source” benefit from Open APIs and exposure of operating code (kind of inherent with scripting languages like Perl and PHP). When we know how something works, we know how to work with it. And we know how to transform it to meet our needs.

Government should be as open and transparent as possible. There may be some rationales for closed doors, but few — for the most part, citizens should be able to clearly see how decisions are made. That’s a key component of our political platform: we want to see the actual “source code” for the decisions that affect our lives.


Open Source projects are often highly collaborative and can involve many stakeholders, not just manager and coders. The Open Source Party sees this as a great way to do government. (I’m partial to charrette methodology, personally.)

Emergent Leadership

Effective action and decison-making requires leadership. In an Open Source form of politics, leaders emerge through merit -— by providing real leadership and direction, not by appointment, assignment, or election. Nobody made Linus Torvalds the lead for Linux, or Matt Mullenweg the lead for WordPress. They saw a need, created a project, and found an effective following who acknowledged their vision, expertise, and ability to manage and lead. Emergent leaders aren’t handed authority. They earn it, and if they cease to be engaged or effective, they pass the baton to other leaders who emerge from within the group.

Extensible and Adaptable

Open Source projects and structures are agile and malleable. They can be adapted and extended as requirements changed. Governance should have this kind of flexibility, and our system of governance in the U.S. was actually built that way. We should ensure that bureaucracies and obsolete rule sets don’t undermine that flexibility.

Techno-Optimism and Techno-Pessimism

Cultural Intelligence, Definitions
Jon Lebkowsky Bio

From Cory Doctorow:

“To understand techno-optimism, it’s useful to look at the free software movement, whose ideology and activism gave rise to the GNU/Linux operating system, the Android mobile operating system, the Firefox and Chrome browsers, the BSD Unix that lives underneath Mac OS X, the Apache web-server and many other web- and e-mail-servers and innumerable other technologies. Free software is technology that is intended to be understood, modified, improved, and distributed by its users. There are many motivations for contributing to free/open software, but the movement’s roots are in this two-sided optimism/pessimism: pessimistic enough to believe that closed, proprietary technology will win the approval of users who don’t appreciate the dangers down the line (such as lock-in, loss of privacy, and losing work when proprietary technologies are orphaned); optimistic enough to believe that a core of programmers and users can both create polished alternatives and win over support for them by demonstrating their superiority and by helping people understand the risks of closed systems.

“While some free software activists might dream of a world without proprietary technology, the pursuit of free software’s ideology is generally more practical in its goal; like good technologists, they view proprietary technology as a bug, and bugs can’t necessarily be eliminated. It’s just not possible to squash every bug, so programmers track, isolate, and minimize bugs instead.”

Free Network Definition & Manifesto (Evolving)

Autonomous Internet, Cultural Intelligence, Definitions

Freedom 0) The freedom to access the network without tariff.

Freedom 1) The freedom to transmit bits from peer to peer without the prospect of interference, interception or censorship.

Freedom 2) The freedom to determine where one's bits are stored.

Freedom 3) The freedom to maintain anonymity, or to present a unique, trusted identity.

Freedom 4) The freedom to determine the parties to whom one's bits are consigned.

Full text online…

Tip of the Hat to Isaac Wilder at Google Group Next Net.

Definition: Free Network

Autonomous Internet, Definitions

ideas to think about, make better, hack on, from venessa miemis:

– access to a global communication infrastructure should be a human right

– i should be able to exchange value directly with a peer without third party involvement

– i should have control over the data that i generate

– it is my right to know how third parties are using my personal data

– i should have the capacity to allow or deny access to aspects of my data

FreeNet Source

Tip of the Hat to Isaac Wilder at Google Group Next Net.