Trivial Technologies: Manifesto

A specter is haunting software—the specter of Emancipation. All of the world's Powers have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: Journal and Standards Body, Government and Judge, Media and IT Company. Those who would seek to profit from those that may need knowledge they possess, whether it be monetarily or through increased influence. Those who would profit from entire fields of endeavor remaining accessible only to the elites, barred behind red tape, jargon and time barriers.

The open scientific endeavors are ridiculed. Those teaching others to make their own medication in the face of pharmaceutical abuse, when not ignored, are hunted as dangerous criminals. The open source movement only became acceptable when that fundamentally centralizing force became the very corporations it seeks to stop.

These tools: copyright, patent, trademark laws, all serve the same purpose—to centralize knowledge, keep it in the hands and control of the original creator. We, instead, seek the opposite. We seek the emancipation of knowledge, whenever possible. This movement, while pertaining to software, is fundamentally but a component of that grander philosophy.

To allow for the knowledge of software, and the ability to modify it, to spread, we reduce as many barriers as possible. Access to modification and use of any kind is granted by way of public domain (or a license free of obligations, when that is not possible). The software itself shall be accessible, ideally understandable by a layman within 2 days. Measures should be taken towards keeping it that way proactively, and easing any potential rough patches one may run into.

We call such understandable and emancipated software "Trivial Software", or perhaps a "Trivial Technology". Like the wheel, no one may lay claim to it. Like the lever, any can understand how to use, aggregate and modify it to make something else. Any may profit from the creation, but that profit shall never be allowed to get in the way of the knowledge itself.

What is to Be Done

  1. The Idea must be spread. All that you can see here is available freely, to use, modify, and distribute. Host copies, host mirrors, host modifications, tell your friends. If you desire to make significant modifications, or change the manifesto, do consider calling yourself something else, lest you be confused for us.

  2. There must be projects that strive to be Trivial. It is not always attainable, but the intent and the effort put into sane design will still improve the state of things. Put links in your READMEs declaring your intentions, and linking to a mirror of your choosing. Not all software need be Trivial, but for any activity, there should be an alternative that is, so that one dissatisfied with the state of things may jump off of it to serve themselves.

  3. The people must be informed. It is overwhelmingly common for one to believe that they cannot do things, whether it be in software or other fields of endeavor. That they are too dumb, too uneducated, too incapable to even attempt them. Show them otherwise. Encourage them otherwise. Allow the masses to rise beyond what they thought themselves capable of.

Open Source is Broken

One may ask why one wouldn't simply follow an existing philosophy, such as that of GNU or the OSI. This is because Open Source is fundamentally broken.

Open Source has always focused on licensing. Using copyright as a tool to get its way. What good does that do, on its own? Imagine a codebase, truly humongous, with a workaround every 5 lines for a mistake in an entirely different section of the sources. Pretend that the product made from this codebase is widely used. Were it to be released under the GPL, how many would be able to mold it to better fit their needs? A license, on its own, means nothing. Further, these movements are inherently incompatible with the goals of TT.

When it comes to GNU, their promises and goals quickly fall apart. Their sources quickly get progressively more complex, bogged down by the requirements they put upon themselves. It uses copyright as a vessel for their restrictions, effectively reinforcing the system that it seeks to subvert. It speaks of sharing programs as the fundamental act of friendship, and yet GPL forks result only in never-ending feuds. GNU is fundamentally a force for centralization, and centralized systems are far easier for the Powers that be to corrupt than any others.

As for OSI, it refuses to hold to its definition. When the FSF asked, they certified the AGPL, a license that breaks at the very least point 6 of the OSD. It was rushed through because of the attached prestige, only later to be regretted. When an extremely similar license came along (the SSPL, by MongoDB Inc.), they rejected it, for the prestige was gone. Some members pointed out that the position is inconsistent. The OSI avoids the public domain like the plague, failing to certify CC0 and the Unlicense, despite neither violating any component of the OSD. They claim that this is because reviewing a public domain dedication requires reviewing the laws of each country, in the same breath as they mention a fallback license that is compliant. That mention goes nowhere.

Other similar movements (such as the various neo-licenses) are simply knock-offs of the GPL, plagued with the same problems, if not moreso.