press release critique

Marc Eberhard m.a.eberhard at
Thu May 3 19:28:46 UTC 2001

On Thu, May 03, 2001 at 03:01:40PM +0200, josX wrote:
> Ok, so it will be a self-imposed "task-force" that will take upon it the
> actions of forming a `picture' of free(dom) software in a simulated 
> org-situation, so politics can be influenced for the better. So it will


> seem to be an org from the non-understanding outside, but it will be a
> simple group with no power or control inside (since that cannot and must
> not exist). If this is going to be it, it is good I guess :-).

Yes, the FSFE has no control over who writes which software and when. This
is the decision of the individual. It might influence some development by
raising funds to pay programmers to contribute to some special free software
packages the FSFE considers important. Or in other words: It might pay for
some free software to be written. But that's the only way it can actually
get involved in the creation of free software. This is by the way the same
as it is for the FSF in the USA.

> Ah, that makes sence. Can we be democratic then pleaze ;-)!!

There was a mail from Georg a while ago on this question. He expressed the
opinion, that a democratic organisation would not be as stable and long
lasting as a non-democratic one. Please check his mail in the archive (I
hope that an archive of this list exists...) for details. In practice, I
think that decisions will be made quite democratic, because most issues are
discussed on this mailing list _before_ the FSFE makes a decision. So I
would expect, that the decision mirrors in most cases the opinion of the
majority of the people on this list. Obviously this depends on the members
of the core team and thus they decided to be very careful when appointing
new members of the FSFE. I personally think, that this is a sensible
approach, but I can well understand, that not everyone will agree here.

> > and free software. Maybe that's an important message to the core team of the
> > FSFE. I would advise to avoid such statements altogether. It's too easy to
> > understand it in the wrong way.
> I sleep better already... 


> Alrighty, if that is going to be /it/, I'm for it. And `money' and 
> power-concentrations are so dangerous they simply should not exist 
> methinks!

I agree in principal, but I know that you cannot avoid this in reality. A
society without them is instable against criminals, who only take, but never

> What about heavy democratization....... we don't need no power-structere
> do we!, we are all self-motivated etc. why should we need things like
> `core' teams and such stuff, and "lower"-orgs in countries. We are grown-up
> enough to have a totally flat structure, not?!

As I wrote, we do not need this to write free software. But we need it as an
interface to the "outside world", because we wouldn't be recognised
otherwise. The core team is mainly to coordinate and the country chapters
are there, because of the different legislation among the european

> And we don't have to differ anything from FSF in my opinion, that will

Apart from the differences imposed by the different laws in Europe compared
to the USA.

> only weaken us. We know we can trust RMS for example, we should not
> do away with such a "help" structure already good in place. There seems

You will see, that the FSF tries to appear together with the FSFE whenever
possible. The main difference is a legal point and maybe a different
political attitude towards free software here in Europe compared to the USA.
That's the reason, why the FSF couldn't do the job.

> to be LOTS and LOTS of discussions goin on within for instance Debian
> and Gnu, almost to the point they are "discussion-based". I think we can
> be "action-based". Want an Logo? start designing! want a website? start

Exactly this problem is one reason for not forming a radical democratic
organisation. You avoid such deadlocks, because the core team can decide
after one month of discussion on the list, that this is enough now.

> writing html! Want a standard-press focal-point? start gathering views
> from within the "movement", and try to present them honestly, and in a
> way the local-press can relato to (may differ from country-to-country and
> from medium-to-medium). That is a lot of work, but if you are for instance
> only on you own, just start with the local etc. That would be more usefull
> than setting up all kinds of orgs and a mother-org and all that drag.
> Want influence politics? sent pamflettes, print T-shirts and sell them...

Advertisment is far more efficient, if it is coordinated. Especially if you
can share ideas, leaflets and T-Shirts across Europe. It is more efficient
and cheaper, if I let a company produce 5000 FSFE T-shirts and send them to
everyone interested in Europe than 10 people in 10 countries ordering 500
each. If you do not coordinate the work, you will also face duplication of
effort, because several people end up doing the same thing.

> Action-based, not discussion-based. What about it!

Well, yes that's the idea of this list too. If you want to do something,
just announce it on the list. And you will find, that you get good advice
(which will save you a lot of work) and probably that other people want to
help you. Give it a try!

> The only discussion-item needed would be "we don't need a power-structure
> to control us", and "if you think that is needed, get to it".

I object against the word "control". We need a structure to coordinate our
efforts. So "coordinate" is the proper term.

> Would shure free up a lot of energy if you ask me :). Logo? take your
> pick for that T-shirt/web-page/letter-head/*, we got several of them!

Sure, you could do that. But the impact is much stronger, if people
demonstrating for free software in Spain would wear exactly the same
T-shirts on TV as people in the UK and in France. Don't you think so? It's
again this: You're not alone, you're only one of a huge community. This
message must come across, because then it is obvious, that you cannot be

> Influence politics?
> yeah, here are some prints you can put on T-shirts and sell at the
> mall/*... make shure you choose high-quality shirts, we don't people getting
> the wrong ideas...

Make sure you sell the same T-shirts everywhere in Europe. That would surely
impress quite a lot of people. By the way: Anybody volunteers to check about
T-shirts? I think, that is a really good idea.

> And about talking to the press: I have my doubts about the effectiveness
> of that. What are they going to report. T-shirts and free cd to schools
> is going to do a hell of a lot more if you ask me!

Only if the teachers have read about it in the press, they will give it a
try. Otherwise they will most likely just throw the CDs in the next bin.
Give it a try: Burn some Debian CDs and send them to some schools local to
where you live. See, what the reaction is like. You will then agree, that
good contacts to the press are important. And again, this can only be
achieved, if you are not an individual, but a representative of a larger


email: marc at
email: m.a.eberhard at, web:

More information about the Discussion mailing list