I'm sitting in Coffee to the People. It's at the corner of Masonic and Haight, around the corner from The People's Cafe, right in the center of a caffeinated populist revolution. They have open mic nights, fair trade coffee, a wall of bumper stickers advocating peace, and a reference library of books on activism, environmentalism, social and economic equality, and other topics of that ilk.
After noticing the abundance of laptops, I walked around and took an OS survey. Ten MacOS, five MS Windows, and one Debian GNU/Linux. That last one is me. Everyone else in this power-to-the-people venue has chosen to run their computers on proprietary software.
I'd like to talk about why I think it's important for the sake of freedom to depend only on tools whose continued functioning is not at the mercy of a single corporation. It's something I've been thinking about a lot, and my current setting provides a delightfully ironic background for the topic.
Unfortunately, I've spent about 30 hours in the past month trying to get my new laptop working (cutting edge undocumented hardware means bleeding edge linux support), so any rhetorical questions I might ask regarding why other people don't make the same choices I do have at least one obvious answer. So I'll save that for another day, when I can be a bit more wholehearted about it.
Instead I'll tell a story of social action that occurred just now, right in front of me. The guy on my left, who I noticed was running more command shells than the average Mac user and is therefore obviously of superior breeding, finally packed up his stuff, wished me well, and headed out. A minute later, he came back in, walked up to the woman on my right, and asked her out. He'd walked out, thought "She's cute and I'll probably never see her again otherwise", and strode right back in to say just that. It was sweet, and they exchanged phone numbers. After he left, I pointed out to her how hard it was for him to do that and that she should definitely call him. Another guy chimed in his agreement and the three of us talked for a while about the usual assortment of how maybe it shouldn't be so hard but really it is. I'm tempted to post about it to Craigslist's Missed Connections, just as an inspiring counterexample.
I finally posted photos from this summer's circus center student show and for good measure I went ahead and tried out a Flickr management tool and put them up there too. It's more work, and I'd much prefer having my data in a system I control myself, but the results are much nicer, so maybe I'll do it again for some of my photos.