Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a holiday celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths.
The Free Software Foundation has a fantastic post up by their new campaigns manager, Libby Reinish, about how “even though there are even less women in computer science than in other STEM fields, and even though the number of women in free software may be even lower than that, […] the free software movement may be uniquely positioned to do something about it”.
Libby supports this claim with three points: that free software is meant to entirely displace proprietary software and therefore needs to reach people of all races, physical/mental abilities, sexual orientations, and genders; that the free software movement is a community and therefore can come together to intentionally create safer spaces for alternative and non-dominant identity groups; and finally that free software exists to challenge proprietary and hierarchical power structures and therefore needs to align itself with marginalized groups in order to of empowering those most disadvantaged in society.
This applies to free culture as well. Free culture is an expansion of the free software movement, applying the same ideas critical lens of software to technology and media more broadly. Free software is an inseparable element of the free culture movement because without it free media and free thought is not possible. We expand upon the work of the free software movement by also investigating how technology beyond software (for example the structure of the internet) and copyright on all forms of media play into privileging some and oppressing others. In order for free software and free culture to achieve our goals, we must keep Libby’s points in mind and frame our work around critical examination of power and privilege.