WATCH: Eben Moglen’s “Freedom in the Cloud” Speech

Eben Moglen is an influential figure within the Free Software community. Aside from his years of work at the Software Freedom Law Center and the Freedom Box Foundation, Eben is also famous for giving a speech at New York University known as “Freedom in the Cloud”
Officially hosted on a Free and Federated web platform.

From the video:

…if you have a system which centralizes servers and the servers centralize their logs, then you are creating vast repositories of hierarchically organized data about people at the edges of the network that they do not control and, unless they are experienced in the operation of servers, will not understand the comprehensiveness of, the meaningfulness of, will not understand the aggregatability of.

So we built a network out of a communications architecture design for peering which we defined in client-server style, which we then defined to be the dis-empowered client at the edge and the server in the middle. We aggregated processing and storage increasingly in the middle and we kept the logs – that is, info about the flows of info in the Net – in centralized places far from the human beings who controlled or thought they controlled the operation of the computers that increasingly dominated their lives. This was a recipe for disaster

Eben Moglen

This speech is definitely worth a watch, as it was influential to many Free Software cloud projects, one of which was most famously Diaspora. Moglen is extremely entertaining, and his words are highly thought-provoking.

An online transcript is available from the Software Freedom Law Center’s website.


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