Free culture is about advocating user freedom on the Internet and promoting those services that respect users freedom and privacy.
Free software is defined here by the four freedoms set out by the Free Software Foundation.
- The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
By media I am referring here to digital media this includes
These media types can be covered under a Creative Commons (CC) license of which there are many. However Free Culture refers to two main Licenses here
- creative commons zero : cc-0
- creative commons attribution : cc-by
- creative commons attribution share alike : cc-by-sa
These licences are also a way to counter DRM (Digtal Right Management).
- Digital rights management or as the FSF see this as
- Digital Restrictions Management
- Ogg Vorbis The use of freedom respecting audio and video file formats, should be encouraged.
Open standards are important for helping users collaborate and preserve documents for future references. It provides an Open standard such Open Document Format (odf).
The Document Foundation advocates the use of these open standards through software such as Libreoffice which as this is also free software any software derivatives can also work with these documents.
Open standards also frees users from vendor lock. This is discussed further by The Document Liberation Project
Of course the best open document format, is probably plain text. this can be opened by any text editor on any platform.
These documents can be enhanced further with markdown or formatting software such as $\LaTeX$ but ultimately the document is plain text. The software for building $\LaTeX$ is also free software.
The internet is built on these ideas as HTML, CSS and Java Script are all simply plain text documents.
By finding alternatives to the Big Tech companies we can start to take control of our privacy. Services such as Disroot offer a wide range of services, such as e-mail and cloud storage. They even offer a diaspora instance.
The free software foundation also advocate the use of gnu privacy guard. This can be used to:
- Encrypt e-mails
- Sign e-mails
However unless you really need to (as in sending something confidential) I don't see a reason to encrypt, however digitally signing e-mails does allow a web of trust to be built up, so that a recipient knows tht e-mail is really from you.
Services such as Telegram and Signal offer end to end encrypted messaging services. Rather controversial in some respects as these services get blamed for helping criminals and terrorists. Nevertheless your private conversations remain that way.
The rise of centralised social media and subsequent concerns raised about user privacy and how data is collected, sold and possibly open to abuse. The Cambridge Analytica Scandal has exposed some of this, and the influences of social media on Elections, especially the US election of 2016 and the EU Referendum in the UK has also been exposed.
Decentralised social media
There are now alternatives to all the above centralised control of social media. Decentralisation allows people to run and control their own social media instance, or if you don't feel confident in running your own, you can join an existing group (known as an instance).
As each instance is independent with its own set of rules, a way to allow these to communicate is needed. Protocols such as Activity pub allow instances of the decentralised social media network to share posts and user content.
But it goes beyond this, Services such as Friendica and Diaspora offer an alternative to Facebook, other services such as Mastodon offer an alternative to Twitter, Peertube and Pixelfed offer alternatives to Youtube and Instagram. By having all these different services run Activity pub (and other protocols) all these services can talk to each other. Without the user having to worry too much on how this works.
Wordpress also has an ActivityPub plugin to facilitate this and decentralised services such as personal Journal have this built in.
The Negative side of these social networks.
Of course with all this independent control, comes a negative side, such as groups supporting far right views. The same protocol that allows instances to communicate can also allow instances to be blocked.
Sites such as:-
Are both non tracking and privacy aware. SearchX goes a step further in that you can include the software on your website and make search decentralised.