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[- Gilberto Gil on free software

Author: Gilberto Gil

Topic: On the Way to Digital Democracy
Keywords: Brazil, free software

[ --------------------------------------------- ]

(translated by Graham Seaman, posted on the English language Oekonux list)

From: "Graham Seaman"

No, it's not about music - a speech of his about FS and the Brazilian
government's policy. Little practical content (though very clear
commitment to a general policy), but I thought it was so cool
to have a minister saying all this I couldn't resist translating it...

Sorry if the translation doesn't sound very natural english, I knocked it
out very quickly. Skip to the last paras if the beginning bores you.


Speech of the Brazilian Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, in the
seminar 'Free software and the development of Brazil'.

Brasilia, 19th August 2003

On the Way to Digital Democracy

We must not ignore the fact that digital culture extends its network
over the whole planet, and is going through decisive moments in
terms both of transformative thought and of utopia.

It's enough to recall the contercultural achievement of the microcomputer.
The counterculture was responsible for bringing the computer from the
industrial-military complex into the space of personal use, breaking the
monopoly of IBM in the area of computing. The writer Pierre Levy spoke,
correctly, of the countercultural detour of high technology, a 'high-tech
DIY', among little defined underground groups, observing that 'a picturesque
community of Californian youth at the margins of the system invented the
personal computer'.

In the same way there was a kind of counter-cultural migration of LSD trips
into the high-tech laboratories and the dream of virtual reality. California
was, at that time, both a centre of the countercultural journey and a
centre of advanced technological research. And everything was mixed together:
Janis Joplin and electronic engineering, changers of states of consciousness
and computer programmers. So it was that Stewart Brand, organizer of the
great psychedelic festival of 1966 in San Francisco ended up in the
'Media Lab' of the Massachussets Institute of technology (MIT), working
side by side with Nicholas Negroponte.

The truth is that at that time a few militants of the counterculture had begun
to see computers as a revolutionary instrument for social and cultural
transformation. So we can in fact speak of a kind of electronic counterculturalism,
including books like 'Computer Lib' by Ted Nelson, a young man who had grown
up surrounded by rock and the underground. The aforementioned victory over
technological centralization at the hands of IBM took place in this context.
It was a conquest by ordinary citizens. And it was also in this context
impregnated with countercultural utopianism that 'Apple' appeared, the model
par excellence of the personal computer.

That is to say: what we see in the world today, in the digital, computing,
space began from the liberating movement of the counterculture. Nothing more
natural then, given this politico-cultural perspective, than a movement in
favour of free software, with the aim of pragmatically making viable one
more project of our realist utopians.

It is a strategic position. Free software will be essential, fundamental,
for us to have freedom and autonomy in the digital world of the 21st
century. It is a 'sine qua non' of any truly democratic project for
ending the digital divide.

We cannot allow ourselves to become eternal payers of royalties to the
owners of closed languages and formats. Free software is the opposite of
that. It will allow the mass inclusion of people. It will allow the development
of small Brazilian companies, our future software houses. And it will be
able to create employment for thousands and thousands of technicians.

The Ministry of Culture of Lula's government thinks we must prepare ourselves
for this, concretely, in order to become a pole of free software in the world.
This is the route to the whole realm of digital culture. This is the
route to the inclusion of all Brazilians in the contemporary cultural universe.

[ --------------------------------------------- ]

Submitted by GeertLovink
Posted on Fri Aug 22, 2003 at 4:39 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME

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