And now... the big picture.
A community of people was able to inform politicians on EU level about dangers of so called software patents...
FFII became synonymous to the fight against software patents and became a valuable source of information for decision makers. People from all over the world joined FFII and, for the first time in the history of mankind, it proved networked people can make a difference. I think this is an important historical fact and it is time you become aware of this.
This short writing is an attempt to formulate logical answers for the future.
- We should not stick to softwarepatents, but extend the scope to what we at vrijschrift.org call "promoting and protecting non proprietary digital products". I think it is close to FFII's objectives. The term "promoting and protecting non proprietary digital products" can be formulated different of course. Basically the public domain may also be a good point of departure.
- We should stop running after facts, when the damage is almost done. We should focus more on preventive informing of decision makers and unmasking organizations focussing on their benefits at the cost of our society. This forces us to reconsider our current structure.
- We have passed a critical momentum at EU level to be and stay a serious and sincere partner for politicians.
- We have not passed this critical momentum in many national initiatives as far as national organizations are concerned. It could have helped us very much in order to have a good council proposal for example. This needs our attention.
- I would like to suggest some steps that might help to operate better on national level:
- Consider the foundation of an EU based umbrella organization (1). This can be FFII (what is in a name) or a totally new one (FSA?). This new organization should not disturb the current fragile structure, we don't want it to fall apart.
- Publishing has turned out to be of great value. A web environment should have a standard international structure with texts like the structure of FFII now, all translations included. However it is important to let these translated pages have the national look and feel of the national organization. This way local, non international, information can be linked seamless, resulting in more commitment from contributors and we will be better identified by governments, and citizens.
- Finally stimulate the formation of legal entities in order to create a rock solid network completely covering the EU.
- Some examples of what should not be local: Consider Vrijschrift.org's effort to promote Project Gutenberg in Europe. It simply deserves more attention from us all. An EU wide approach, or even better a Europe wide approach, coordinated by the umbrella organization, is probably more effective. At the same time national organizations can put efforts to find proofreaders at schools, etc.. Another example was a request to critisize a DRM report at Vrijschrift.org. The text was for CEC and thanks to one person we were able to give our opinion. This too should have been discussed EU wide. The current MEP-elections made clear (at least in the Netherlands) there are many protest voters as the press calls it. This is not 100% true, it is also simply something new: "European voting" and, for example, understanding the people and their ideas are more important than the parties. I realize MEP's are not/less dictated by their administrations like at national levels and as long as this is not the case it is a blessing for democracy. MEP's have pretty much freedom to act and as a result they started listening to us, even cooperating with us. In this give and take game MEP's are able to take better decisions because they receive all opinions, not restricted to the powerful lobby of CEC and multinationals. It is this kind of democracy making it possible to interact as a citizen directly to the MEP's. It is this kind of e-democracy making it easier for us to open doors. It is obvious that it is important to mobilize people all across Europe . Our organizations can play a prototype role in this new democracy and can proof there is a European spirit and... it is alive! I think it is an important condition to strengthen our democracy.
Food for thoughts.
Wiebe van der Worp, June 11, 2004
(1) EU based umbrella organization: The reason why I am not thinking worldwide is the risk to loose the cooperative spirit. However worldwide operation should be preferred. We work borderless after all and only politics forces us to focus on regions.
In addition I would like to state some things:
A group of international experts and volunteers in an internetworked environment can handle very complex questions and problems. I am not aware of non-networked organizations, like governments, able to match this quality standard.
This results in retro rationalism, rationalism to the max instead of the daily blurred bull we are so used too that we even learned to accept it. When we are able not to limit it to FLOSS then this retro rationalism forms a totally new political trend. The reason why I have faith in it is because I noticed my on line friends automatically put typical FLOSS related principles like "helping your neighbor" and "freedom to create" into a broader perspective, beyond software, beyond public domain books, into other existing and even new areas like free educational content, while remaining rationalistic.
Dear networked friend, making this world a better place is all up to us....
How can we make sure politicians are doing what we expect them to do? By letting them answer questions and reminding them afterwards. It is also a good way for politicians to distinguish themselves. A typical example, related to the current Dutch Precidency, is a statement from Arend: Ik vind het niet normaal dat het bedrijfsleven publieke bestuursorganen sponsort. En ik hoop dat met name de SP er ook zo over denkt en wellicht bereid is dit in de kamer aan de orde te stellen. Met sponsoring van bestuursorganen begeef je je op een hellend vlak en dat moet je niet willen.