The past month was very eventful, so much so that I couldn’t make a single post. Firstly, I had my graduation. I finally hold a Bachelor’s in Computer Science! It took me a long time enough time to get here but it’s a personal achievement. It was a really topsy-turvy period. If I become someone who matter in the future, I’ll write a book about my life and you can read all about it then; lots of stories to tell. Secondly, I started work as a research assistant at NUS (National University of Singapore), the same university I got my Bachelor’s from. As a research assistant, I’ll be working with other PhD students on their research work. This stint will last for a year, during which I’ll start my applications to grad school and gain valuable experience, hopefully making it easier for me to earn that elusive PhD.
Thirdly, I finished reading two very important books: Free Software, Free Society and Free as in Freedom (2.0). The first book is a collection of essays from Richard Stallman about Free Software and the second book is a biographical account of Stallman’s life. Now, for those of you not familiar, Richard Stallman is an activist for Free Software. The word Free refers to Freedom here, not price. Stallman’s thesis is that users of software should have the Freedom to use the software as they see fit. According to him, users should be able to use a software without any restrictions (freedom 0), the freedom to study how the software works and modify it to do what they wish (freedom 1), the freedom to share copies of the software so that they can help their neighbours (freedom 2), and the freedom to distribute copies of their modified version of the software to others (freedom 3). Stallman has been campaigning since 1984 towards this vision of a society where software is Free and his drive has not waned one bit.
I’m not going to explain how Stallman arrived at his thesis in this post since I intend to make this post short. Read his books if you’re interested. Follow the links provided earlier and you can either buy hard copies of the books or just download the PDF version (legally, mind you). As I mentioned earlier, I regard these two books as very important to me. A lot of the misconceptions I have previously held has been more or less dispelled and I see the value in Software Freedom. Think about it – the greater we progress technologically, the more our lives depend on software. This blog is powered by software, the browser you’re using now to view this blog is software, the device you’re using, whether a laptop or a tablet, uses software. Given this huge dependency, it makes sense to me that users of software should have the freedoms outlined above. Why should they be at the mercy of corporations who may not have their interests at heart? Don’t get me wrong, I am not an anti-corporation person; I just dislike how some of them abuse their powers and inflict negative value on society.
I value the freedoms that the Free Software Foundation and other like-minded organizations/companies/individuals are fighting for. I just need to start contributing to the movement, sooner rather than later. The future is going to be exciting. Stay tuned for more updates from me regarding Free Software. In the meantime, I dub the July of 2011 as the month of awesome, since it’s the month where a lot of life-changing events have occurred to me.