I never won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Jon

Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Oct 11, 2009 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

I woke up on the morning of October 9th to find that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

There was a lot of discussion about whether President Obama had "earned" the honor or not, and a lot of discussion about how the Nobel Peace Prize is not always for what you have done, but encouraging you to keep going in what you are doing.

As I read his acceptance speech, I thought about Free and Open Source Software, and applied parts of his speech to my favorite subject.

"Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments"

A lot of people have said to me, "Thank you for what you do for Free Software". I tell them that I was someone who was in a particular place at a particular time. I did what I thought needed doing, and what I had skills to do.

I also tell them that if they want to see the most important person in Free Software, all they have to do is look in the mirror....for everyone can be important to Free Software...everyone can contribute in some way.

"men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world"

Certainly I have been inspired by some of the great computer people of all time, most of whom I have been lucky enough to meet and have discussions. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, Maurice Wilkes, Douglas McIlroy, Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie....the list goes on and on.

There are present-day heros too...and each person working into the night trying to get that one nasty bug fixed in a piece of Free Software is one of those heroes. The person who translates a piece of documentation so some other person can use that program is a hero. The person who sets up a user group meeting, so others can find out about Free Software and share it. All of these are "heroes" to me.

"this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women and all Americans want to build"

A world of collaboration, where people build, standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before....not "re-inventing the wheel" or having to spend time "programing around" some software patent. The Freedom to see how a program works, and to try to make it better.

"it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes."

President Obama goes on to list a number of causes, of which we are all probably familiar, but several of them stood out for me:

  • accept responsibility for transforming the way we use energy
  • the ability to get an education and make a decent living
  • global economic crisis

These are things that I think Free Software can help and I will try to help solve them with Free Software.

"I know these challenges can be met, so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration; it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world. And that's why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity."

I believe that it takes the entire Free Software community to meet the challenges of today. Of course we can not solve the world's problems by ourselves, but the philosophy of collaboration nurtured by Free Software is spreading, and will be key to solving these problems.

Perhaps some day there will be the "Free Software Peace Prize".

Carpe Diem!

Comments

  • Those 'Economists'..

    "If anything, a Nobel Prize should have gone to the few awake economists (I can't recall any name right now) who warned two or three years back of the impending economic crisis and who of course were not listened to."

    01. Peter Schiff
    02. Ron Paul (not necessarily and Economist - but could be considered one)
    03. and many other "Austrian" economists.
  • hahahahahahah!!

    HATERS!!!!!!!
  • I never won a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Me neither, I never won the Nobel Prize. Oh well. To tell you the truth, I don't think someone like Barak Obama deserves such a prize. His discourse was fine and dandy, but it's just that, a discourse. Fundamentally the American Administration is pursuing what it has always done: imposing its own view of democracy by any means necessary, including war, for its own benefit. And when I look at the bailouts handed out to the American banks and the auto industry I don't see it as paving the way to a more sustainable and fair world order.
    If anything, a Nobel Prize should have gone to the few awake economists (I can't recall any name right now) who warned two or three years back of the impending economic crisis and who of course were not listened to.
    You write: "I believe that it takes the entire Free Software community to meet the challenges of today. Of course we can not solve the world's problems by ourselves, but the philosophy of collaboration nurtured by Free Software is spreading, and will be key to solving these problems."
    Man, I agree with you full pin.
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