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An article by Nicolas “Duduf” Dufresne, lead developer of Duik .

Be annoying, be angry, be upset.

Always create for the benefit of the people the instruments of their well-being, and you will have created the instruments of their power and emancipation.

Jean-Baptiste André Godin

When I started to develop my own software to help my own work in animation, it was just my own tools and nothing else. It was private and made my life better, it had no impact at all on other people’s life. Well, to be honest, as I’m not working alone, it quickly had a small impact on my colleagues too, easing their processes too.

And then, I decided I could share those tools with the rest of the world, if the rest of the world was interested. And it was. The most well known of my tools, Duik, is now downloaded 1000 times a day. Going from private to public made these tools political. I had to choose how they were going to impact other people’s life.

Everything is about choices

What was I going to do? I had a new product, I could just sell it like almost everything else in our capitalist society, or even better, I could rent it to keep my customers as hostages. But I had a unique occasion to think about my own impact on the world. There are a lot of things I don’t like in our society: individualism, consumerism, competition… Everything is connected, intertwined. Because our society is capitalist, it makes people individualist competitors and consumers. It’s how things go. The question is: what will happen if we get really conscious of this? What will happen if we follow other paths?

I chose to do things in a less common way, maybe even a rare way: I chose to give away my tools. I chose not to earn money with them, or at least, I chose to let people choose if it was worth paying for. I chose freedom, for myself, and for the rest of the world. I chose to let my tools open source, I chose to let people get, use, and modify them freely, instead of being worried of stealers and pirates. I chose to make my stuff available even for the poorest human being on earth. Because I think my choices can have an impact. Because I think that if I work outside of and against capitalism and consumerism, if I show a different path, the path may be followed, and maybe, maybe it’s a step to what I think is a better world. Politics, that’s just politics.

One is ready to accept a lot of compromises1 to be able to consume the easy way. But being given the choice either to consume freely, or to donate time or money, one just consume and nothing else. It’s too easy to just download and use if it’s “free”, so much easier than making a donation first, or to contribute in any way.

It would have been easy to sell my tools. It would have been easy not to give any choice to the users. But I chose a difficult path. I know that most people won’t understand it, but I don’t regret my choice, and I would do it again - even if I know I could be richer than I could ever have imagined - because it’s more important for me to show that another world is possible, where people are free from property, where economy is subordoned to the well-being of all, where happiness comes from equality of all the people. This better world already exists and just need to be extended, that’s what I’m trying to show; you just have to join us.

Consume less, share better.

Hervé Kempf

Numbers

Duik is a big success. Millions of downloads so far, an average of 1000 downloads per day, thousands of daily users.

It’s a big success, with very few supporters. 250 backers during each of the crowd-funding campaigns, 300 monthly or annual subscribers2 and patrons3 (and those groups are overlapping, we can’t even add the numbers).

It’s a big success, with even fewer contributors. There are less than 10 meaningful contributors (to the code, the translations, the documentation…).

It’s a big success, without earning even a single full-time salary in the country where it’s developed (France).

We estimate less than 4% of our daily users did contribute time or money to the project.

It works, thanks to other ways of earning the missing money (selling tutorials and books for example). But imagine what we could do if more people contributed! If, for each download, we got a single US dollar, we would’ve got millions to improve the world together!

Despite the fact that Duik is useful to - and needed by - the society, there’s no reward and it stays very hard to develop and maintain. Because in our capitalist world, we don’t reward what’s useful or needed; products are valued based on an abstract market value. Products have to be sold to be valued. That’s how capitalism and mercantilism work, hand in hand.

Property is the Right of Increase claimed by the Proprietor over any thing which he has stamped as his own.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Consume less and contribute more

I’m not upset, I’m not discouraged. On the contrary, because I did things differently, I thought differently, I achieved something different. Obviously, I don’t do what I do for money – but unfortunately money is a need.

Why so many efforts? Because I chose not to be only a consumer, but I wanted to be a contributor. I don’t want to consume life, I want to contribute to the society, because I’m the product of society and I have a great debt to it.

Even the most wretched individual of our present society could not exist and develop without the cumulative social efforts of countless generations. Thus the individual, his freedom and reason, are the products of society, and not vice versa: society is not the product of individuals comprising it; and the higher, the more fully the individual is developed, the greater his freedom — and the more he is the product of society, the more does he receive from society and the greater his debt to it.

Mikhail Bakunin

I’m not waiting for someone to sell me what I need, I try to build what I need and then share it, before someone else sells it. I want to be able to explain what I did to the society, and be proud of it. Selling my software would not have been a contribution to society, even if it’s needed and successful, because it would not have pulled our community to what I think would be the right direction. It would only give me the sensation I did something which matters, but it would not have been really useful for the community. It’s not enough to make useful things, what’s important is what we do with them, how we make them, how we share them. This is my point of view, and it matters. It matters that I have a point of view, it matters that I say it out loud. It matters that creating free software is a political gesture for me, because this means I’m contributing to the community, because it means I asked myself enough questions about what I was doing and how it would impact others.

It’s an effort, it’s harder than being a simple consumer, it’s less rewarding in the short term, but way more in the long run, because I can be proud. Not rich, but legitimately proud.

What I want you to know, is that it’s actually not so hard. Join us!

Of course I had the luck of being able to do it, I had the luck to be born where I was born, to have had a little spare time at some point in my life, to have had a good education… But it’s not just luck, it’s also choices. Political choices, ethic choices. Everyone can ask questions, everyone can be angry at things, everyone can think about individualism and consumerism. Everyone can – and has to – be upset about our society. Everyone can do politics.

The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls — the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.

Henry David Thoreau

Maybe you’re already trying to change the world in your own way, or maybe you don’t know how to do it. I just hope you’ll think about it now, that’s what I’m asking. Do things in a way they matter and think about how they matter. Do what you can, no less, no more. We’re enough people in the world to make the society change.

There are a lot of concrete ways to contribute more and consume less, even without being a specialist.

Be annoying, be angry, be upset.

Help Duik


Todo

Transparent background on the last image (contribute.png)


  1. Rent, pay, give away all one’s personal data, be overwhelmed by ads…; when we don’t have the choice, we’re accepting all of this without protesting. 

  2. Visit membership.rxlab.info for more details about RxLab. membership. 

  3. Visit patreon.com/duduf to become a patron. 

  4. Visit donate.rxlab.info to make a donation right now.