We’re undeniably living in a millennium when computers have become important fixtures in our homes and workplaces. (And we wonder what will replace computers come the next thousand of years.)
This is the reason why the politics of software has gradually moved to the foreground. Our software leaders have divergent views of how computers should be used for progress and human development. Of course, one issue that divides them is softwares’ regulation. Bill Gates represents those who assert intellectual property through patents to the softwares they produce. In contast, Richard Stallman represents those who believe in the software user’s four freedoms.
These software figures, of course, appeal to various audiences in varying degrees. Some think that these guys tend to shove their wares down the people’s throats. Some see them as a new kind of evangelists that really know their stuff, and are, inch by inch, landing the media headlines. There’s something in their dishevelled hairs that gradually makes them popular (although I admit that Gates is more popular, also because he is notorious to software freedom advocates).
The question is: What if they were to run for national Presidents and later won? How would they make computers and softwares become the currency in the homes, workplaces and public utilities? The answer may be obvious but it still leaves us imagining. Would Gates standardize and nationalize an anti-virus policy? How would he manage the growing movement against his proprietary software policy? Would Stallman declare GPL and related software licenses the only ones legalized by his government? How would he reduce, if not totally eradicate, the power of Microsoft (and Apple?) to hold it to bay and make FOSS hold sway? Would he be willing to make real peace with his former comrades (e.g., Eric Raymund, Bruce Perens, etc.) and appoint them to government positions?
In the meantime, the Free Software Magazine has run a poll on who would be the next President of the United States (see image). Of course, it’s a bit self-serving, if not vain, exercise among FOSS enthusiasts. But one thing is sure about the poll: Stallman is so far leading the poll, winning even over Torvalds.