Title text: The heartfelt tune it plays is CC licensed, and you can get it from my seed on JoinDiaspora.net whenever that project gets going.
In this comic, Cueball has sent his essay to someone else (apparently a professor who was going to revise the essay before final delivery). While the essay itself was good, the professor was worried because the essay was in a .doc format, the proprietary format that old versions of Microsoft Word used [compared to the newer .docx format (circa 2007)]. The professor then advises Cueball to use a format based on an open standard (one example being the ODF format (file extensions
.odp, etc.) used in OpenOffice and LibreOffice, both free software (referring to freedom, not price)). However, Cueball, who does not appreciate the professor's ideology, whined about how the professor is making petty fights about the details of software instead of simply bothering that the software works (which is, in essence, a primordial purpose of software). Given that open-source software tend to lack the familiarity, features, support and reach of their proprietary variants, not working with proprietary formats in extreme cases, Cueball has *some* justification for his stance.
The professor brings up that he is just concerned at the current proprietary software infrastructure that forces users to use software in a specific way, penalizing them for sharing the software or even looking at the source code in order to learn how the program works so nicely or even how to code nicely in the first place. Cueball makes a retort that the professor has an arrogance that crowds out his perspective while claiming that the professor is autistic. (Autistic people do have a tendency to have intense fixations to things, even things that other people would find mundane or even odd. They also have trouble knowing the problems of the world outside of themselves, having them lack perspective of things at times. Even so, Cueball's remark suggests that he thinks that "autistic" is just another word for "retarded" which is another word for "stupid", a double-fallacy.)
Later, Cueball runs to the professor clamoring about Facebook's heavy policies about its complete control about the information its users submit. Since both Microsoft and Facebook have a lack of transparency about their services and take away a lot of control from the user, the professor retorts with playing "the world's tiniest open-source violin." While "playing the world's smallest violin" is a sarcastic expression that denotes that the speaker will not give pity to the recipient, the title text reveals that the professor is playing an actual violin.
The title text references the following services that are compatible with the "free software" ideology:
- Creative Commons licenses use existing copyright law to permit someone to share a work (in this case, a song) anywhere if the sharer attributes credit to the creator of the work. There are also options for allowing modification, derivative works, and commercial usage.
- The "seed" to which the professor mentioned is a reference to Torrenting, an infrastructure that allows users to host the files others download. Essentially, the user packs a( set of) file(s) in a torrent file then "seeds" the torrent file using a program made for torrenting (for example, uTorrent, the "seeder"'s computer essentially turning into a server. People who want to download the files would download the associated torrent file, use a torrenting program, and "leech" the file. After the file(s) inside the torrent file is downloaded, the "leechers" can "seed" the file so that more people can download the file in turn. Since the user is in control of the upload and download, torrenting is an option of choice for those in support of free software.
- JoinDiaspora.net is the central host of Diaspora, an open-source alternative to Facebook which puts the user in control of how his information is used. (There is a bit of irony here, since Cueball went to the professor due to his own problems with how Facebook handled his information.)
|This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect. If you see a way to improve it, edit it! Thanks.|
- [Cueball approaches a bearded fellow.]
- Cueball: Did you get my essay?
- Bearded Fellow: Yeah, it was good! But it was a .doc; You should really use a more open--
- Cueball: Give it a rest already. Maybe we just want to live our lives and use software that works, not get wrapped up in your stupid nerd turf wars.
- Bearded Fellow: I just want people to care about the infrastructures we're building and who--
- Cueball: No, you just want to feel smugly superior. You have no sense of perspective and are probably autistic.
- Cueball: Oh my God! We handed control of our social world to Facebook and they're DOING EVIL STUFF!
- Bearded Fellow: Do you see this?
- [Inset, the bearded fellow rubs his index and middle fingers against his thumb.]
- Bearded Fellow: It's the world's tiniest open-source violin.