We Pledge Allegiance to the Penguin

October 29th, 2004 Comments Off on We Pledge Allegiance to the Penguin

The rate of technological change now is such that modernization proceeds more chaotically than ever, and with every flip of the clock cycle, the whole world’s reality looks more and more like Brazil’s: a high-contrast, high-contact confusion of microcultures and inequalities. What Gil has learned from that reality is the same thing any country looking for an edge in the coming century might do well to learn: You do yourself no good by trying to control the confusion. You grow, instead, by letting it in. You open the cultural conversation to all comers. You loosen the reins on technical and scientific knowledge and let it wander, from the university to the slum and back. You build your songs out of whatever washes up on shore and then you throw them out to sea again to see what somebody else makes of them. You tropicalize.

Wired 12.11 is featuring an article by Julian Dibell about the raise of the open source movement in Brazil, my own country. The article, We Pledge Allegiance to the Penguin, is a thoughtful look at the motives that are moving Brazil to take a strong position in the open source community.

I can say, without reservations, that this article is one of the best looks I’ve seen on the problems and promises of open source for Brazil, and what it means economically, politically, and socially for the country both on its internal and external landscapes. In fact, the article is talking about much more than open souce in software alone. It’s about intellectual property, cultural changes, and mobilization. For example, Dibell analyses an interesting connection between one of the strongest cultural movements in the country, tropicalismo, and the roots of the open source movement here, tracing the mindset that has been leading the country down the open source path. He also talks about the problems facing the moviment, like Microsoft’s lobbying against it, and the resistance of traditional media to the changes in the views on intellectual property.

All in all, it’s required reading for anyone trying to understand what’s happening here on that arena, and what is looming in the future.

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