Communism 2.0

Since I’ve been going on about the open source movement this week, I thought I’d republish for you a piece I did originally for the May 25, 207 issue of the Politics In Minnesota newsletter:

Open Source = Communism

It’s often amusingly accurate: The type of
technology you favor often
predicts your ideological leanings. Mac
users, for example, are passionate about
their computers and can often be heard
railing against Microsoft, the evil
megacorporation; the irony of their passion
for Apple, another megacorporation,
apparently lost on them. The same phenomenon
can often be seen playing out with
Internet technologies, as well.

There are two primary technologies used to
create complex database-driven web
sites and application: Microsoft’s
and the open source .
Both programming languages are fine and will
do the job. The primary difference
between them comes down to one basic thing:
cost. Microsoft technology requires
licenses and software purchases and the
software required for PHP sites is free.

Free versus paid. Open source versus
proprietary. This may explain why tech
people who lean conservative are more likely
to use Microsoft technologies while
the more liberal tech people tend to favor
open source; and it plays into all
the political stereotypes.

Those who favor Microsoft technology
are more likely to come from the
corporate environment and probably have
more money to pay for software.
Those who favor PHP, on the other hand, are
more likely to come from a nonprofit
environment or are freelancers for whom
the savings on software are
significant.

Proprietary software such as Microsoft’s
is more top-down because it prohibits
the user from modifying or enhancing the
source code. And the purpose of
Microsoft software, of course, is first and
foremost to make money. Open source
software, on the other hand, is about
collaborating and sharing and creating a
pool of resources (i.e. property) which
anyone can use and/or improve in order
to enrich the commons rather than
the individual.

The economic stereotypes fall into place.

On Monday, the saying that
Republicans are well behind Democrats in
online politics. That may be explained by the
aforementioned embrace of the
respective technologies both in fact and
philosophy.

The open source movement has gained
tremendous momentum largely due to the
fact that open programming platforms
such as PHP and JavaScript have powered
Web 2.0, the Internet as it looks today.
Liberal tech people therefore have more
experience, skills, and expertise using the
current lingua franca of the Web.

Further, it is the notion of open source
(where anyone can contribute) that
informs much of what is driving Internet
content today.
is a massive online encyclopedia to which
anyone can contribute and/or edit.
Blogs (and, increasingly, )
allow anyone to comment and hold a discussion
pertaining to a given blog post.
User-created content seeds such sites as
and Flickr. And
social
networking sites such as
and
and ,
make it easy to find and communicate with
people of similar interests.

Such a chaotic environment may feel
comfortable to debate-loving liberals but
not so much to message-disciplined
conservatives.

As if to confirm this ideological
breakdown, the last remaining prominent
Communist,
Cuba’s own Fidel Castro, has encouraged
his country to while Brazil’s
Lula
Da Silva
began migrating government
computers to the open source Linux
operating system .

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.

8 Comments

  1. Anonymous on July 1, 2007 at 4:34 00 am CDT

    You might be interested in a little movement called “Technocracy” that started in the 20s and 30s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technocracy_movement
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_of_European_Technocrats



  2. Anonymous on June 30, 2007 at 9:34 01 pm CDT

    You might be interested in a little movement called “Technocracy” that started in the 20s and 30s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technocracy_movement

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_of_European_Technocrats



  3. Charbax on July 4, 2007 at 12:44 00 am CDT

    I totally agree.. I had my blog located originally at the URL itcommunism.com which I then gave up and I just post my IT communism stuff at http://charbax.com/category/politics/

    I think that the Republicans know that the Internet will change politics and that means they will not have the possibillity to have the power anymore like they had for so long.

    But certain intelligent right wing people might know how to infiltrate the technocratic movement, and thus utilise the Web 2.0 to take the power at elections.



  4. Charbax on July 3, 2007 at 5:44 19 pm CDT

    I totally agree.. I had my blog located originally at the URL itcommunism.com which I then gave up and I just post my IT communism stuff at http://charbax.com/category/politics/

    I think that the Republicans know that the Internet will change politics and that means they will not have the possibillity to have the power anymore like they had for so long.

    But certain intelligent right wing people might know how to infiltrate the technocratic movement, and thus utilise the Web 2.0 to take the power at elections.



  5. rcyork on January 25, 2008 at 7:03 00 pm CDT

    While I can see your points, I have a differing opinion. I work with Microsoft in certain environments(ie.work) because it is imposed upon me. My preference is Open Source whenever possible. In most ways, however, I am anti-liberal.

    I see it from the smaller government/free trade aspect that many of our “conservative” leaders seem to have forgotten.

    The monolithic model of a closed system very much mirrors a government involving itself in trade to the point of stifling it. In this respect Apple is somewhat worse than Microsoft, just not as pervasive.

    Open source, on the other hand, is very democratic. The people have true freedom. We only need the entities (made up of the people) to setup standards (ie.regulations) and certain boundaries (ie.laws) to work cohesively. We are then free to operate within those standards and boundaries, even step outside them when things do not work the way we need them to and possibly suffer the consequences if we step too far (incompatibility issues?).

    I’m not a programmer; I am a consumer of open source and I really appreciate the work that my representatives do on my behalf and the way they respond when I need something to work differently.



  6. rcyork on January 25, 2008 at 12:03 50 pm CDT

    While I can see your points, I have a differing opinion. I work with Microsoft in certain environments(ie.work) because it is imposed upon me. My preference is Open Source whenever possible. In most ways, however, I am anti-liberal.

    I see it from the smaller government/free trade aspect that many of our “conservative” leaders seem to have forgotten.

    The monolithic model of a closed system very much mirrors a government involving itself in trade to the point of stifling it. In this respect Apple is somewhat worse than Microsoft, just not as pervasive.

    Open source, on the other hand, is very democratic. The people have true freedom. We only need the entities (made up of the people) to setup standards (ie.regulations) and certain boundaries (ie.laws) to work cohesively. We are then free to operate within those standards and boundaries, even step outside them when things do not work the way we need them to and possibly suffer the consequences if we step too far (incompatibility issues?).

    I’m not a programmer; I am a consumer of open source and I really appreciate the work that my representatives do on my behalf and the way they respond when I need something to work differently.



  7. Dan on December 26, 2008 at 1:19 00 am CDT

    Despite open source there are billions of dollars to be made with the software. Example: Look at how many wordpress themes or plugins are for sell. I know people have sold 100s of copies of a theme for more than $300 each.

    Then when people buy themes (or get them for free) they hire graphics artists to make their use of the theme unique. Then someone wants someone to make a customized plugin which hires a programmer. etc. etc. etc.

    I think these open source projects promote capitalism as they start new products and services to buy.



  8. Dan on December 25, 2008 at 8:19 06 pm CDT

    Despite open source there are billions of dollars to be made with the software. Example: Look at how many wordpress themes or plugins are for sell. I know people have sold 100s of copies of a theme for more than $300 each.

    Then when people buy themes (or get them for free) they hire graphics artists to make their use of the theme unique. Then someone wants someone to make a customized plugin which hires a programmer. etc. etc. etc.

    I think these open source projects promote capitalism as they start new products and services to buy.