Stephen Fry on Ideological Maximalism

I have opened myself to charges of the most monstrous hypocrisy by championing open source and free software while simultaneously using proprietary systems here and there, hither and yon. I hold my hand up to the sin of being inconsistent – hypocrisy is going a bit far I think. I am no purist or fanatic when it comes to computing, software and the internet, or when it comes to anything, come to that: I like the idea of open source and free software, but I can’t honestly find it in my heart to boycott any individual, company or consortium that patents its routines, algorithms, codes or protocols and chooses to make money from of its research, innovation and ingenuity. As in all things I’m a muddled, hand-wringing liberal who believes in a mixed economy. I don’t think freedom is indivisible. I can contemplate regulation and entrepreneurialism, cooperatives and corporations, open source and proprietary systems all coexisting. In the end I like structures that are human-shaped, not idea-shaped and humans are great heaps of inconsistency, ambiguity and complexity. All I’m saying is that if you expect this to be a kind of Open Source madrassah you will be disappointed.

– Stephen Fry, “A notice to staff and parents, a little housekeeping…

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