Free Software and America's Future

I am an ex-Microsoft programmer who has written a book about the future of software called After the Software Wars. One of the most important points is the idea that free software is better for the free market than proprietary software, and that America needs to lead the free software movement to ensure its technical relevance in the 21st century.

Free software can also be very useful for conservative political websites. I note that RedState.com is running WordPress, a polished and powerful free web blogging engine.

I posted to the American Thinker recently that discusses this more. Here are the first 3 paragraphs:

Moore’s law has been humming along for four decades now, doubling our CPU power every eighteen months. Cellphone-sized devices today have more capacity than a stadium of computers from twenty years ago. Networked digital computers are giving us new forms of collaboration on a massive scale, causing our society to enter the digital renaissance. We now have the tools to solve some very tough problems; one might argue that we never could cure cancer without creating computers and the internet first.

While the shiny hardware always gets all the attention, software is the workhorse and the magic behind it all. Richard Feynman said, “The inside of a computer is dumb as hell but it goes like mad.” A computer is just as happy to add 0 + 0 billions of times per second all day long. It is software that tells the hardware precisely how to convert between bits and ideas.

The key to faster technological progress is the more widespread use of free software. Free versus proprietary (or non-free) software bears comparison to the divide between science and alchemy. Before science, there was alchemy, where people guarded their ideas because they wanted to corner the market on the means to convert lead into gold. The downside of this “strategy” is that everyone would have to learn for himself that drinking mercury is a bad idea. The end of the Dark Ages arrived when man started to share advancements in math and science for others to use and improve upon.