The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 14:22:37 +0500
From: Shahzad Ahmad <>
     Shahzad Ahmad <>
Subject: [ciresearchers] Few hours with Richard Stallman

Blog from Tunis:

Few hours with Richard Stallman
By Shahzad (Bytesforall, Pakistan) writing from Tunis � 20/11/2005 07:07 �
[Software, WSIS implementation] (0 Comments)

This crazy summit, which will be remembered as WSIS, is finally over... but
the official summit frankly, ended with agreements on further meetings and
conferences... and watch out folks... don't rise your expectations anymore
as nothing will happen. I infact, saw two official delegates, at the closing
ceremony with good bye handshakes, saying "see you in Greece".

These summits and meetings, probably will continue to produce vague
commitments, and at least in developing countries all of us know that who
cares for such commitments and declarations. May not be at the scale of
WSIS, but still there is quite a lot of opportunities for those who already
live on the airports to travel and continue the "discourse".

In my personal opinion, the Tunis phase was largely unable to attract many
celebrities from the ICT4D scene. However, the superstars and most sought
after people at the summit were Ms. Shirin Ebadi (Nobel prize laureate and
Human Rights activist), Ambassador Masood Khan (WGIG), Prof. Negroponte (one
laptop per child fame), and Richard Stallman (Free Software Foundation).

Maxigas was well connected with Richard Stallman, and since I had live
network with him so was invited to a trip to Carthage in Tunis accompanying
Richard. I found him to be an interesting but a person with some rather
strange individuality.

Richard, is no more a programmer because he is so busy, and
spends his time preaching free/freedom of software all over the world. Only
uses computer for emails, listening to music, and text editing in GNU Emacs.
He just does not trust any other software which is not written by him. Since
he is a Unix person so connects with graphical interface only to look at

He has written his own Operating System and Text Editor and various other
software. Can you believe that Richard does not use any browser, probably
because he has not written one yet. If he has to look at some webpages, he
emails to daemon, and daemon writes him back the text. Doesn�t upgrade Linux
because he worries that something will happen to his system. He doesn�t
backup, for he has no time.

When I asked him that where you live, smilingly he said, "on the airports
all over the world".

At the summit venue, I saw him with his registration badge, all wrapped in
aluminum foil. It was in protest to block the RFID. Actually, he was
concerned that people are tracking him.

While reading his emails he keeps biting his nails. He would read his emails
even standing on the roadside waiting for taxi or bus. He can hang his
computer around his neck and works quite comfortably. He had this badge on
his chest "Impeach the God". For this he has his own philosophy, which I
don't wish to comment here.

His travel costs and funding comes from donations and foundation members. He
is happy with what he is doing and since he has set a trend to follow by
many, and now he puts all his efforts in preaching free software.

I personally think that he has created his own bubble and he can't see
beyond that. There was this discussion that even his followers also are sort
of fundamentalists and strict to their own ideology.

In the end, I thank you all those who sent me kind messages of liking my
posts/blogs. Actually, this was the purpose i was here for. Hope to see many
more faces behind the email addresses in future.

Signing off from Tunis.


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