On philosophy, hierarchy of orgs, definitions, and the logo

David dbFSF at pigstick.freeserve.co.uk
Thu Jan 4 18:53:34 UTC 2001

Alex Hudson wrote:
> I think all that helps to do is muddy the waters a bit, really. Obviously,
> FSFers are always going to have their own opinions, and most of the time
> these opinions are probably going to be anti-patent, anti-this and
> anti-that. I think the importance of Free Software is much greater than that
> of Free Music, for example, and needs a separate emphasis.

If I can take this as embodying the main gripes against my ideas, I 
shall attempt to respond.  If the idea of separating FSF and GNU 
creates confusion then I'm sure it was my ineloquence and not a 
quality of the concept.

Firstly, the greater philosophy is absolutely not anti-anything.  It's 
just pro- ideals that I find slightly harder to pinpoint.  Nextly, the 
FSF could switch to being a homemade ice cream dispensary 
tomorrow with no detrimental effect, as it's presently nothing more 
than a GNU mirror.  And to extend my analogy to program design, 
a change during testing will cost 100 times more than a change 
during design, so please leave the confusing gnu off the logo, keep 
the mortal GPL out of it, and acknowledge eternal goals we can 
promote now rather than when the need appears most pressing.  
Does that analogy really apply here?  I've no idea.  But what is 
there to lose?

Now is the time when valuable information (which I will persist in 
calling software) has become expressible in almost identical forms, 
so now is the time those against software liberation on the 
incidentally-opposed grounds of profit will spread the meme of an 
intrinsic difference between software types.  A divide and conquor 
plan that gets the FSF's tacit support because "other groups are 
better able to deal with it."   

Regarding the much slated notion of free music, until I thought 
about it properly just now I would have largely agreed (I only 
included it to make the list longer ;-).  But then I don't know much 
about music, or how psychoacoustics relate to cognition and 
emotion, nor the many possibly ingenious ideas to improve its 
inherent value.  A GNU sister* concerned with music would want to 
know these things, and could then promote 'goodness' in music.  
The GPL would not be an applicable tool here, though a similarly 
spirited document might be.  It is this spirit, not the details, which 
should concern FSF(E).

IMO, you have to stop thinking as programmers, or at least 
recognise that as more appropriate to GNU.  A serious deficiency 
in free software as it stands is its lack of use in science.  Tell a 
scientist he should liberate his software so other people can 
perhaps use it and fix bugs and he'll dismiss it as a trifling detail.  
On the other hand, present a cogent argument that libre software is 
a valid step to universal enlightenment and he'll embrace you as a 
brother.  (The fact I evidently cannot make this argument doesn't 
preclude its existence.  And don't laugh at my naivete of scientists' 
motives, that's my best quality.)   

Jonas wrote:
"As I said earlier though, we should definitely support such 
activities, and the FSF makes a point out of linking and in other 
ways supporting free music, free books and everything else where 
the freedom associated with it is similar in philosophy to that of the 
freedom of software which we advocate."

Seems the simplest thing in the world to support GNU by linking 
and other ways, instead of the present situation of being GNU.  On 
top of everything, I just noticed that separating FSF-GNU is bound 
to reduce the time wasted belabouring the difference between Free 
Software and Open Source.

Fooey, suppose I'll draft an email to Stallman.  All my ramblings 
were on the premise that anyone else intuitively believes liberating 
software of all forms can profoundly benefit human development, 
rather than just being a cool thing for program hackers.

* I propose Rab Ain't Bertelsmann, with a Robert Burns' face logo.


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