Tuesday, 19 July 2011


To me, freedom is the ability to choose my own timetable; to choose in which direction I can travel, and what level of quality to aim for. Freedom does not mean being completely unburdened (as you cannot go very far when you choose to do nothing). It is the freedom to choose which burden to carry - rather than accepting the one forced upon you.

We are all constrained to one degree or another. I'd rather choose my own constraints than to wear shackles chosen by others.

What does freedom mean to you?


Unknown said...

I'd be tempted to modify that a little bit. Sometimes the job of choosing can itself be a burden that I don't want to carry. I think the 37Signals guys were right on the dot when they say things like "Avoid Preferences. Decide the little details so your customers don’t have to." (Getting Real, 2006). I think freedom is the ability to carry the right burden, whether it has been chosen by you or by someone else. Often, if someone else chooses a burden for you to carry, but it's the right burden, then you are more "free" than if you had to expend the effort to figure it out yourself.

Now, of course, you're left with the conundrum of how you define "right". But that's not necessarily our job (i.e. the right burden for some of us). Or rather, for those of us who are technical, it's not necessarily (or even usually) a technical decision. It's often a philosophical or even theological decision. Hence, we all would do well to pay close attention to those who are involved in the philosophical/theological conversation (if we are not inclined to participate directly in the conversation ourselves)..

Taryn East said...

Very interesting points. I agree that decision-making is its own burden, and having the decision made for you is often the path of least resistance, and in many cases can suit you well.

So letting somebody else make your decisions can make your life easier and let you get on with the more important decisions. You still have the freedom to agree with that choice or otherwise.

So yes, freedom is the ability to choose the right burden for you... and others may well have a good default for the needs of most people. ie don't dismiss out of hand the choice given to you by somebody else :)

And I definitely take your point about not bothering the customer with decisions over minor preferences... as long as you give them the alternative to change their mind if they really *do* need it the other way around.

As to defining what's right (for you). I think that's a very important decision that is not best left up to other people.

Defining what's right for the human species as a whole, or for a specific group (eg your country) is certainly often left to philosophers/theologians/politicians etc (and you can indeed jump into that conversation if you choose); but unless you are a blind-follower of a well-defined creed, you must still make your own evaluation of what is "right for me".

Thankfully I'm in a country where I have the freedom to do that :)