free software free society

The Thiruvananthapuram Declaration
May 29, 2005

We are currently living in a world that is increasingly gettinginterconnected and the issues of our concern are becoming global.Along the way, new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)transformed the process of knowledge construction and dissemination inour society. This process is transforming other fields of humancreativity as well — including music, painting or writing. Humanhistory is calling us to take note of this change. Creative workstoday live in a digital world, travel at the speed of light, gettransformed in seconds, become part of several other creations, andgrow in a number of other ways.

As society transforms drastically, we — students, engineers, ITprofessionals, social activists, lawyers, elected publicrepresentatives, media persons, film-makers and concerned citizens —urge our world to take note of the immense potential opening up forhumanity, and to ensure that technology is harnessed in the needs ofthe time to tackle the wider concerns of our planet.

Free Software has convincingly demonstrated to the world we know thatknowledge building is enhanced by freedom, openness and socialconsciousness; and that such features are very effective in creating afairer society and enhance the cause of the social good.
In the new networked and digitized society, the intangible(non-materialistic) aspects of reality are becoming more important incomparison with the material ones. Several years of material-centereddevelopment has not helped humanity to create a better world for all;or even for the majority on this planet.

To face the challenges of the day, we need a new model of developmentcentered around non material aspects of life — includingcollaboration, sharing, and compassion. Such a society is evolvingtoday on the foundations of freedom, collaboration and sharedknowledge.

We call it the gnowledge society (see
In our view, the gnowledge society will and must prefer:

freedom over bondage; sharing over monopoly; public good over privateprofit; participation over exclusion; cooperation over competition;diversity over uniformity.

We find that patent, copyright and other legal and institutionalsystems related to human knowledge are not suitable for thedevelopment of the gnowledge society. These systems were createdduring the industrial revolution, and then continued in spite of majorchanges in how technology shapes our lives. These systems were notdesigned for, and therefore cannot cater to, the emerging gnowledgesociety. For the development of human society, it is imperative thatwe promote the collaborative development and free sharing ofknowledge.
Such principles are not only consistent with, but even mandated by,the spirit of human rights as defined by the present legal system.

We, the participants at the Free Software, Free Society conference inThiruvananthapuram underline the following:

We call upon the social and political institutions to eliminatesystems that hinder the development of the gnowledge society.

We demand that every human being works for a more fair distribution ofknowledge for all, and for a world based on knowledge sharing andcollaboration.

Agreed upon in Thiruvananthapuram, South India, amongst theparticipants at the Free Software, Free Society Conference, byparticipants from the countries of:Bangladesh,Brazil,India,Italy,NorwayUruguayVenezuela.