Last week Richard M. Stallman, founder of the Free Software movement caused some head scratching when he made some remarks about cloud computing and web applications calling them stupid. He argued that to cease control over your data, isn’t really a good thing to do as you start depending on big companies good will, entrusting them with private, sensible and even corporate data. While I do agree that it might be dangerous to rely on others taking care of your data, I don’t think it’s stupid in all cases, at least as long as you stay aware of the risks.
It is of utmost importance to rise people’s awareness of these issues, in the end it’s their choice but without knowledge, there is no choice. Richard Stallman might often seem radical in his ideas, compared to other ideological leaders of the Free Software movement but he has a point and he’s being consistent. The Movement needs vocal people like him to point in a direction and to rise awareness of ongoing issues in a non free world. However leading us there is the job of pragmatics, like Torvalds, Shuttleworth or De Icaza.
Stallman might not be someone doing great in front of Cameras, looking like the cliche of a geek living in his mother’s basement, but people do listen to what he says and people respond loudly to controversial statements he makes, proving his importance to the movement. Arguing about whether or not software, or wisdom should be free is almost impossible without mentioning his name or what he believes in.
A Free Software world may be out of reach at this point and in a time when cost reduction has become the driving force behind spreading Free Software instead of ideology in one man stands up to point at the right direction, so the movement doesn’t forget about its goals and its responsibilitto the people.