Voices of Free Culture

Clément Renaud

This book was written in Pourrières, France, in five days, from 2nd to 6th November 2015.

Just two weeks before, I got a phone call from a friend, asking me to help bring attention to the plight of Bassel Khartabil, by organizing this book. We jumped into the project instantly, starting to pull people together, authoring web pages and open calls, sending emails and calling everyone we could think of.

The book you are reading is the result of this emergent process, based on friendship, internal networks, and external publications.

It originates with our friend Bassel, suffering in a Syrian jail that has taken him away from us. I have never met him, but I am calling him a friend because I know from all who have known him that I will have a good time meeting, talking, and working with him.

In the small group of “free culture” we tend to regard each other as friends. We all feel committed to a common mission. For this book, we made an open call to those who have “been fighting in the trenches” of free culture. That sounds like an overstatement for most of us who are not in jail but are instead mostly writing, coding and taking part in interesting projects, enjoying our freedom.

Thus, when we call for a reflection on “the Cost of Freedom”, we suddenly appeal not to our group and our mission, but to each individual that has been part of it. Instead of preaching the values of a whole system supposedly based on commons and sharing, we target people in their daily lives – those who have suffered from loneliness, questioning, bankruptcy, burnout, exploitation, and even from seeing friends and partners suddenly missing, just for having been a part of free culture.

This book is not a statement about freedom and culture; it is a primal scream, the sum of our questions and desires. It is the raw expression of our lives. It talks about what is ultimately made through the dream of free culture: us.

This book is dedicated to Bassel Khartabil and to all those that will recognize themselves in the stories told in these pages.