Richard Stallman talk+Q&A at the useR! 2010 conference (audio files attached)

The audio files of the full talk by Richard Stallman are attached to the end of this post.


Videos of all the invited talks of the useR! 2010 conference can be viewed on the R User Group blog


Last week I had the honor of attending the talk given by Richard Stallman, the last keynote speaker on the useR 2010 conference.  In this post I will give a brief context for the talk, and then give the audio files of the talk, with some description of what was said in the talk.

Context for the talk

Richard Stallman can be viewed as (one of) the fathers of free software (free as in speech, not as in beer).

He is the man who led the GNU project for the creation of a free (as in speech, not as in beer) operation systems on the basis of which GNU-Linux, with its numerous distributions, was created.
Richard also developed a number of pieces of widely used software, including the original Emacs,[4] the GNU Compiler Collection,[5], the GNU Debugger[6], and many tools in the GNU Coreutils

Richard also initiated the free software movement and in October 1985 he also founded it’s formal foundation and co-founded the League for Programming Freedom in 1989.

Stallman pioneered the concept of “copyleft” and he is the main author of several copyleft licenses including the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license.

You can read about him in the wiki article titles “Richard Stallman

The useR 2010 conference is an annual 4 days conference of the community of people using R.  R is a free open source software for data analysis and statistical computing (Here is a bit more about what is R).

The conference this year was truly a wonderful experience for me.  I  had the pleasure of giving two talks (about which I will blog later this month), listened to numerous talks on the use of R, and had a chance to meet many (many) kind and interesting people.

Richard Stallmans talk

The talk took place on July 23rd 2010 at NIST U.S.  and was the concluding talk for the useR2010 conference.  The talk consisted of a two hour lecture followed by a half-hour question and answer session.

On a personal note, I was very impressed by Richards talk.  Richard is not a shy computer geek, but rather a serious leader and thinker trying to stir people to action.  His speech was a sermon on free software, the history of GNU-Linux, the various versions of GPL, and his own history involving them.

I believe this talk would be of interest to anyone who cares about social solidarity, free software, programming and the hope of a better world for all of us.

I am eager for your thoughts in the comments (but please keep a kind tone).

Here is Richard Stallmans  (2 hours) talk:

Audio file to download – Richard Stallman talk at the useR! 2010 conference (~2 hours)

The second part of the talk consisted of Richard Stallman answering the following questions:

  • What are your thoughts about Data portability?
  • What are your thoughts about FaceBook?
  • Isn’t it a problem that free software doesn’t create wealth?
  • What are your thoughts about innovation?
  • What are your thoughts about Software as service (a.k.a: cloud computing)?
  • How can we defend your open sourced software from “hackers“?
  • What are your thoughts about googles products and services?
  • What are your thoughts about the legality/ethically of people changing from GPL to closed-sourced?
  • How can a programmer be “compensated” for his contribution for a free “open source” software?
  • What are your thoughts about “free games“?
  • What are your thoughts about search results?
  • What are your thoughts about Taxes and government responsibility for the use of free software?

Audio file to download – Richard Stallman talk at the useR! 2010 conference – Q&A session (~25 minutes)

Final note, more talks from the useR2010 conference are expected to be put online here, thanks to Drew Conway.

0 thoughts on “Richard Stallman talk+Q&A at the useR! 2010 conference (audio files attached)”

      1. if you are asking for an mp3 format, you don’t know stallman. there are ogg players all over the place and it is not proprietary.

        just because a format is corporately popular, does not make it free.

  1. At this point in his career, if you invite Stallman to give a talk, he’ll basically show up and talk for 3 hours about his life story, not caring much about the specific audience. Which could be fine, but he’s remarkably condescending to pretty much everybody who doesn’t share his exact opinions. He made it pretty clear in this talk that he hates Linux (because it should “properly” be called “GNU/Linux”), hates Open Source, and thinks most OSS people have no ethics because they take a different approach to the issue than him. I found this pretty galling. It’s pretty clear that he’s in a point in his career where he doesn’t have to (or want to) listen to what anyone else has to say, though – the one probing question an audience member asked him was cut off right away. In my opinion he often does more harm than good to the FS/OSS movement as a whole these days, which is too bad because I do think he deserves a lot of credit for much of the early mindshare of the ideas that have fueled lots of good things.

  2. Stallman doesn’t hate Linux simply because of the name. He said the matter of the name ‘Linux’ is a small concern while the more important concern is the association of the fruits of his labor with the pragmatic philosophy of Linus Torvalds, who Stallman claims is more concerned with software performance than freedom. Stallman is fighting against an Objectivist philosophy in which everything is property for sale, including our friends, our communities, our ideas, and our creative expression. I believe he rightfully sees this philosophy as destructive to the human spirit. Market capitalism is just war by another means, and vice versa. They exist where community and diplomacy, for whatever reason, have failed us. As we become more connected globally there should be more communities and fewer markets, not the other way around. Within a community there exists a gift economy in which people labor out of love and the desire for respect, purpose, mastery, and challenge. Markets may never disappear entirely, but we certainly shouldn’t artificially impose them — as part of a foolish consistency — in areas where they are counterproductive.

    1. i’m not sure stallman is against all profit- he is against crony corporatism- the kind of profit that is enforced by government capture by corporations.

      in true real markets, prices decrease as more players can take advantage of similar designs without fear of govt imposed copyright, or govt cartels.

      in these true markets, costs decrease to commodity, and more people in the community can purchase it, while others can offer it freely under gpl licenses at the same time. the market side is the support side with the sla.

  3. I congratulate the organizers for bringing Stallman in and remind all of us why R is such an excellent tool, and help us defend it and keep it that way.

  4. If you go to a backery and buy a cake, is it unethical if you don’t get the recipe as well?
    If you buy a radio, is it unethical if you don’t get the construction plans for it?
    If you buy some software, is it unethical if you don’t get the source-code?
    If you buy a processor, is it unethical if you don’t get the “hardware description language”-description of the processor?

    Stallman sees it as an ethical issue. Maby he is ultimately right. I simply don’t know.
    He’s right that sharing is a good thing.
    But is it really an ethical issue whether or not you get some recipe, construction plans or source-code??

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