Free Software Expo – Is It Free?

A sketch of Free Software Expo held at Westport Plaza

A sketch of Free Software Expo held at Westport Plaza

Well, here’s a first for me. I’m at the Free Software Expo representing the St. Louis Bloggers Guild. I feel somewhat inadequate representing the Guild, but I do have help. Mike, a fellow member of the Guild, is here and any questions I can’t handle, he can.

OK, so I’m at the Expo and I’m blogging. What’s that have to do with the price of eggs today? Well, nothing regarding eggs, but of course, that’s only a figure of speech. Really, the Expo is very interesting to me, but not for the reason you might imagine. I have watch three presentations about “stuff” that I have no prior knowledge of.

In fact, attending the Expo, reminds me of my first few days in GreeceI did an earlier posting on my visit there – where I didn’t understand any of the language, but enjoyed my time immensely. One of the main comparisons between my visit to Greece and my attendance at the Free Software Expo is that “it was all Greek to me.” Of course, I’m speaking about the lack of understanding the language.

At the Expo, two of the presentations I observed, used many words that I, personally, didn’t have meaning for. Now, I can imagine you thinking that there is no way he can find this interesting. Wrong! It was interesting in the way a student would find a class interesting where the lesson, though very challenging, introduced her/him to a whole new world. It was fascinating to see and hear about the language, art and science of Linux and Unix, along with many extensions of these operating systems for computers.

Many times when I reflect back on experiences such as attending this Expo, I have one simple but lasting “idea” that I leave with. Well, I had a most surprising one this time. It has to do with the word “free.” Now, I can imagine you sitting there asking yourself, “what could be so surprising about the word free?” Good question!

Free, when it comes to free software, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily free. If software doesn’t cost any money it still may cost. It’s the use of the word “free” that is “trickier” than I imagined. The Free on-line dictionary definition of free contains multiple meanings and, to be honest, I am familiar with most. Having stated that, I also must admit, that I have not considered, before now, how the word “free” in misused in my mind. In the past, when I saw something that was free, I considered the meaning to be either, without monetary cost OR able to do what I want to do.

Free Software Expo - View of some of the audience

Free Software Expo – View of some of the audience

Free Software  — without cost. Yes and No. It could be free, but cost you to use it.

Free Software — able to do what I want to do. Yes and No. You could use it, but not be able to do what you want to do.

Both of the above mentioned “Free Software” explanations are short. For more detail, please visit the following link. Free/Open Source

Feel “free” to comment. :-) 





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