02 April 2010

RMS and Tim Berners-Lee: Separated at Birth?

We all knew that Sir Tim was a total star, choosing to give away the Web rather than try to make oodles of billions from it. Some of us even knew that he contemplated using the GNU GPL for its licence, before being persuaded that placing it in the public domain would help it spread faster. But even I did not know this:

Much government work is done by civil servants emailing Word documents back and forth. Yet Berners-Lee refuses, on principle, to use Word, which is a proprietary rather than an open source format. On one occasion, one official recalled, Berners-Lee received an urgent document in Word from one of the most senior civil servants—and refused to look at it until a junior official had rushed to translate it into an acceptable format.

Seems RMS has some competition in the uncompromising integrity stakes....(Via @timjph.)

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Anonymous said...

It is desirable to have people(like RMS) who exist to show the rest of us where the boundaries are to give us the ability to decide for our selves how far off the boundaries we are towards the middle.

One person may feel strongly about proprietary binary executables but ok with mp3 file format.

Another may feel strongly about using free operation systems but tolerable to watching encrypted dvd on the free OS and the list goes on.

When people who stand on the boundaries start moving back and forth unexpectedly, we all will be affected negatively.

RMS maybe annoying but his uncompromising positions are necessary for free software movement.

Glyn Moody said...

I quite agree: without RMS's steadfastness, we wouldn't have the amazing free software around today.