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Published May 3 2013 via RSS

Recently Muktware started covering KDE related news in a section they call KDE Sutra. The writers and editors are people who believe strongly in Free software and it shows through in their efforts in my opinion. In any case, they recently invited me to write a little bit about KDE. I ended writing a bit more than a little, and you can read the article here: "A Community Made of Momentum".

While writing it, I rolled around a lot of old and familiar thoughts in my head. Free software is focused on technology; however, there is a strong social and ethical aspect to it, whether one cares to pay attention to that or not. This is because there are people at the center of it all creating that technology. Whenever groups of people get together to make things, there are social and ethical profiles that emerge from these activities. Often the social aspects don't receive much attention: they just are.

Free software is a special (though not remotely unique) construction in that there are people who care deeply about those social constructs and the ethical implications and who spend time thinking about them, documenting them and shaping them. The GPL was perhaps the first step in this, but it has certainly not been the last.

Many Free software projects don't spend much, if any, time considering the shape of their community constructs. They rely on the emergent properties of humans coming together to do the right thing. This often works, and it also often doesn't. Many of the worst dramas in Free software in past years could have been ameliorated, and possibly avoided outright, had it been left a little less to chance and self-emergence and purposeful thought applied to this side of things.

I'm not suggesting that the hackers should put away their IDEs, the artists their digital paintbrushes, the documentation and translation teams their editors. There ought to be a few people in each Free software community that is bigger than small who spend some time ensuring that the non-technical structures of their community are kept in working order and progressing forward.

A goal of such efforts is to bring it full circle and have these efforts expressed by improvements in the technology that is created and in the reach into the world around us that it has.

The balancing practice in such efforts is to ensure that these efforts do not retard the pace of technological advancement or otherwise hijack the technical efforts.

No system of people is perfect, but they can progress and they can be healthy and sustainable. They can be rewarding and enjoyable and productive. KDE is one such system, and the technology we've created over the last decade-and-a-half are the record of that.

This is what I was trying to capture in the article written for Muktware, and hopefully it comes through when you read it.

Cheers, hugs and happy hacking ...

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