Journal: News & Comment

Friday, March 05, 2004
# 7:26:00 AM:

Ah, the French

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Tim Bray links to a couple of discussions about open-source and proprietary software. One of them is in French (PDF file), so Tim provides some quick translations of key parts.

My French is probably much worse than his, but I remember it well enough to tell whether the translations are any good, and they do seem to be. What's interesting is that, in a paper that talks about how the difference between open-source and commercial software is a cultural one, its own origins at a French academic institution shine through.

Could you imagine, for instance, someone from Harvard Business School—even expressing the same sentiments—writing that "proprietary formats [...] imprison information and make systems autistic" or "To choose an operating system, or software, or network architecture is to choose a kind of society. We can no longer pretend that free and commercial software, or Internet standards and protocols, are just tools. We have to admit at least that they are political tools"?

Years ago, I saw Alien Resurrection in a movie theatre. Its director, unlike those of the previous three instalments of the series, is French. And sure enough, what began as a gothic techno-thriller became, by the end, a semi-oedipal French art film (with an unusually large budget).

The language and culture we grow up with help define how our brains grow. Might that someday also be true of the software we use?


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