Of all of the Brazil-related issues we discuss, probably the one we get the most excited about is their strong and growing emphasis on the adoption of free -- as in libre -- software. There's a bit of standing up to the superpower in their love of the penguin (as shown by Lula's notorious snubbing of Bill Gates at the recent World Economic Forum), but also a recognition (especially shown by Brazilian Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil) that the ability to see and change the source code for software changes people from being solely consumers to being potential producers: at its root, the value of free software is more economic and political than it is technological. In The Brasilia Consensus, Free Software and Gilberto Gil's Dreadlocks, Alex ties this all together particularly elegantly:
The idea that you can "take the politics" out of subjects like technology, development, trade regimes and intellectual property systems is, of course, patently absurd. There's practically nothing but politics involved here -- the technical issues, the innovation, are practically trivial in comparison to the political challenges involved in creating South-South science or fashioning the Brasilia Consensus. Our entire global system is a political construct, and Brazil is doing its best to hack that system to make it work better for the billions of people on this planet who don't own Microsoft stock. Technology is only a means to an end in that fight.
Brazil isn't engaged in a science project, it's declaring a revolution.