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GNU Pioneer Stallman to Speak to CWDS Lunch

The state’s Child Welfare Digital Services project is hosting legendary IT pioneer Richard Stallman for a lunch lecture next week.

The state’s Child Welfare Digital Services project is hosting a legendary IT pioneer for a lunch lecture on Nov. 15.

Richard Stallman founded the free software movement 34 years ago and announced the GNU Project, the thrust of which wasn’t software’s cost but its ability to be shared, changed and shared again. One offshoot of the project was GNU/Linux, software created and inspired by the movement’s open-source principles.

CWDS is hosting Stallman because it, too, is trying to foster innovation in state IT while freely sharing the products of its best efforts with the city, county and other state agencies it supports through tech.

According to a news release from Bill Maile, communications director for the Office of Systems Integration: “Child Welfare Digital Services, California government’s largest and most innovative project, is seeking to fundamentally change the way state government develops software by leveraging free (libre) software, agile methodologies, and user centered design. One of the project’s main principles is to research, design, develop and operate a solution that is compatible with the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), and is thus available to be copied and used as a public good by other government agencies and the public at large.”

Some of Stallman’s offbeat persona shone through in a story that ran last winter on the news website of Kalamazoo College in Michigan, where he gave a speech.

“Stallman’s message,” the story said, “is clear: Nonfree software is, by its nature, unethical and malicious, with proprietary programs being ‘an injustice [that] should not exist.’” It went on to note that he has eschewed carrying a cellphone because “a mobile phone is Stalin’s dream; it records conversations around a person and tracks everywhere a person goes.”

Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation in 1985 and volunteers full-time as its president. 

Admission to the Noon Speaker Series is free. The event runs from noon to 2:30 p.m. at CWDS, 2870 Gateway Oaks Drive, Sacramento 95833.

Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in Northern California.