Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Futurelab: Justice without Freedom

I don't really know much about Futurelab, but I am appalled that they're cranking out reports like Opening Education - Designing for social justice: people, technology, learning and Designing educational technologies for social justice which, according to my scans and searches, have no mention of free or open source software licensing whatsoever. As Futurelab says, "Being concerned with matters of social justice involves being concerned with the unequal distribution of resources and power in society." Getting users to participate in the design of software (in particular) without giving them the freedom to use, study, redistribute and improve what they've helped to create is a pre-digital concept of social justice, and in some cases flat-out exploitation. I don't expect these papers to be about software licensing, but software licensing plays such a central role in these questions that its omission hardly seems like a coincidence.

Is Futurelab ignorant, or corrupt?


Ben Chun said...

I vote "corrupt". If we were to stop spending public money on private software, that would do more for social justice than all the rhetoric.

Miles Berry said...

Hi Tom,
I don't think they're either. They did a really good report in the same series a couple of years back on applying open source methods to education more generally.
That said, it's a shame that someone in the editing/commissioning chain didn't spot the omission!