Free information

Charles Stross had a nice piece this morning about that long time hacker slogan, "Information wants to be free". It's a good read, so I'll wait while you go read it. It focuses on the different definitions of free. One means, "no cost," like those real-estate fliers you see at the grocery store. The other means, "free to move," like Amazon MP3 Store mp3 files. Different, see.

Part of his point is that it is one thing to enable information to be free, and quite another to create free information. Information creation is the ultimate validation of this credo. In his case, he can work with his publishers to release novels in a non-DRMed format; something he has done once and will do again soon.

But he closes with a question:
What have you created and released lately?
That's a very good question. The quick answer to that is this blog. My experiences wrestling with technology have proven useful to others. The search key-words that drive people here have evolved over time, but give a nice snapshot for what issues people are having and are looking for answers about. For a long time that was news about the Novell client for Vista. Right this moment the top trending keywords all include two of the following terms 'cifs', 'Windows 7', 'Netware', and 'OES', strongly suggests people looking for how to connect Vista/Win7 to NetWare/OES. Comments I've received have also proven that what I've posted here has been useful to others.

But what about beyond that? I've written a couple of AppNotes for Novell over the years covering topics that the NetWare-using community didn't have adequate coverage over. Novell has always had a stake in 'community', which fosters this sort of information sharing.

I've also been active on ServerFault, a sort of peer-support community for system administrators. I don't get as good data about what my contributions there are being used for, but I do still get comments on accepted answers months after their original posting. I'm in the top 25 for reputation there, so that's something.

It doesn't look like a lot, but it is free information out there. In both senses of the word.