I didn't expect it to happen at all, but Eben Moglen's keynote address at the Plone Conference moved me. I admit that it's easier to do these days now that I'm a parent and feeling sappy. (How sappy? My wife and I almost lost it at the end of Peter Jackson's King Kong, that's how sappy.) I want my daughter to grow up in a more free, more fair, better world, and I'm proud to consider that my work on free software is helping to make that better world possible.
My favorite stretch of the keynote is where Moglen asks us to consider a world of proprietary math. Imagine that you can only use as much math as you can afford. Multiplication and division might be too expensive for the poor or underemployed. The means to solve simultaneous PDEs might be beyond all but the most wealthy.
What if Newton or Liebniz had been inclined and able to lock up Calculus with a proprietary license? Developments in the field of Mathematics would have slowed to a crawl, hamstringing the Enlightenment. What if Legendre had locked his Transform with a proprietary license? Mathematical Physics would never have flourished. There'd be no electronics, no atomic theory, no computers, no iPods. We'd be sitting around complaining about the price of newspapers and oil to keep our lamps lit.