Saturday, April 27, 2019

Charlotte knows...


Not sure why I am writing this.  Not a writer.  Not this kind of writer.  Went for a walk early this morning.  Saturday.  My new neighborhood.  New houses. Still building.  Charlotte and me.  Really the walk was for her.  She’s a wiener dog.  Just 12 lbs.  Black and tan.  Loves her family.  Doesn’t trust anyone else.  Her definition of family is fluid.  If Charlotte let’s you pet her, you’re good people.  You’re family.  If she doesn’t, you might still be good people.  You just haven’t proven it to her yet.  She finishes her business.  Gets in her stroller.   Yes, she has a stroller.  Don’t judge.  We turn a corner.  Model house.  Family sitting on the porch.  One of them.  A small one.  A boy.  Doesn’t look like the others.  Family Mom looks worried.  Mom’s van with cleaning supplies on the curb.  Mother, teenage daughter and toddler sitting with the boy.  At the model to clean.  Teenager is G.  She greets me.  Charlotte barks.  Nothing new.  She doesn’t know G.  Charlotte goes in the stroller.  Told you not to judge.  G brings me up to speed.  Mom and G found the boy alone on the porch.  He knows his name.  D says he is 4.  He has a toy car.  It has flames on the doors.  G asks if I know him.  I don’t.  Haven’t met all the new families.  G does all the talking.  Mom slowly retreats.  Looks more worried.   G and I and Charlotte decide to walk a little.  D and toddler come too.  See if D recognizes his house.  He’s smart.  Knows his house is red.  Knows his mom helped him get dressed.  Knows his toy car has an engine.  Doesn’t know what a porta-potty is.  G explains.  He giggles.  No luck.  He doesn’t recognize anything.  Walk back to the model house.  Decide to call police.  G knows the local number.  G is on it.  She’s on the phone.  G is confident.  Knows where she is.  Describes the boy.  Asks for help.  Efficient.  D asks me about Charlotte.  Why is she long?  And short?  G says police on the way.  D’s mom is too.  She had already called police.  Lives in the next neighborhood.  Long way for D to walk.  Short legs.  We wait.  G and baby sister are bilingual.  More than I can say.  G’s Mom retreats into the house.  D’s Mom pulls up.  Fast.  She’s rattled.  Crying.  Angry.  Been there.  Introductions are made.  Grateful.  Relieved.  D is collected.  Policeman pulls up.  Slow.  D’s Mom is embarrassed.  Tries to explain.  Policeman takes off sunglasses.  Smiles.  Looks her in the eye.  Kind. Reassuring.  Checks on D.  D is in the car seat.  Policeman speaks to G.  Speaks to me.  G is articulate.  Tells the story.  I’m impressed.  Policeman doesn’t interrupt.  Just listens.  Asks a few questions.  D and Mom head home.  Policeman thanks us.  Says he likes this.  Good outcomes.  G says bye.  Needs to go help her Mom.  Watch out for little sister.  Charlotte and I continue our walk.  I’m thinking.  Troubling news these days.  Not today.  Today I saw the future.  G is the future.  Doesn’t look like me.  Doesn’t matter.  Self-assured.  Aware.  Taking responsibility.  I bet she will vote.  I hope she leads.   I saw G’s Mom.  Worried. Concerned.  Working hard.  But G is proof.  Proof Mom made good choices.  Whatever they were.  I saw a policeman.  Better outcomes.  Protect and serve.  Like I was taught.  Hope he stays safe.  I saw D.  Small.  Brave.  D has a Mom who loves him.  And a neighborhood who cares.  Then there’s Charlotte.  She barked.  Then she didn’t.  She knows.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Open Source Activism

Open Source, or the general idea of a software commons, has always had echos of a progressive viewpoint independent of the simple notion of "free code".  I have heard it described many different ways, but the the general theme tends to circle around software quickly becoming so integral to even the most basic functions of society that the benefits of public crowd sourcing development efforts fundamentally out weigh a business model approach favoring software as a proprietary investment.

However, I have never seen such a direct attempt to use the tools and artifacts of the open source community to impact public policy as described by this NPR article.  It is a fascinating account of how technical workers in China's censored society have chosen to leverage a GitHub repository to influence corporate behavior regarding working conditions.  The name "996.icu" indicates a frustration that despite Chinese labor laws to the contrary, many technical workers are required to work 12 hour days (9 to 9), 6 days a week, in order to keep their position, and the attempt to keep such a grueling schedule can result in a hospital visit to the intensive care unit or "ICU".  Apparently GitHub was chosen as the medium of expression as unlike more traditional social media channels, it is very resistant to government censorship given the importance to so many corporate and academic institutions.

Even more fascinating to me is the development and inclusion of the "Anti 996 License", which is a derivative of the standard MIT license.  In it licensees are required to:

"strictly comply with all applicable laws, regulations, rules and standards of the jurisdiction relating to labor and employment where the individual is physically located or where the individual was born or naturalized; or where the legal entity is registered or is operating (whichever is stricter)"
And it appears that many in the open source community see the value in such an approach because in just a few days many projects have adopted the license.  See here for a current list.

Of course the enforceability of such a clause probably varies by jurisdiction and to my knowledge has not yet been tested anywhere, but it is an intriguing juxtaposition of the technical world and social activism.

Would you ever consider such a licensing approach for one of your projects?