E L Tonkin
py7elt at bath.ac.uk
Wed May 9 13:35:40 UTC 2001
Okay, I'm going to get flamed for this but what the hell?
*dons asbestos jumpsuit*
Apologies; this is One Long Mail. I've been sarcastic and cynical, but if
I've written anything that sounds personal, please don't take it that way.
It's supposed to be a discussion; I'd like people to try to understand
each others' viewpoints, at least. If you disagree for any rational,
explicable reason, do please explain why... (and I disagree with some
stuff I wrote so heck...)
On Wed, 9 May 2001, josX wrote:
> > Marc wrote:
> > please don't get personal, that doesn't help anyone.
> > On Wed, May 09, 2001 at 08:40:35AM +0200, josX wrote:
> > > You are kidding, right ;-)!
> > No, they are not. Please note, I've used "they", because I'm _not_ a member
> > of the FSFE.
> > > You know what I think about you FSF-E?
> > > You are here for the money, and for the power too.
> > Hmmm, which money and which power?
> 1. Power to talk to the press, attention, spotlight.
> 2. Collecting donations
> 3. Working together with companies, sponsorships, all kinds of deals.
Both of you are in a sense correct. Marc is correct that getting personal
is and will remain unhelpful. Jos (I hope I got your name right) is
correct that there is a large element of the 'money and power' thing in
FSF and FSFE.
Now to forestall the obvious objections here, I'm NOT saying that somebody
wrote xpenguins, gcc, or linux so that they could get rich quick. That's
just not true; every free software developer I've ever met, whatever their
pet project, coded for the sheer hell of it. My friend codes MUDS in the
evening and Apache extensions as his dayjob; I code graphics stuff in the
evening and hack perl for a dayjob. Neither of us get rich on it, though
clearly better paid than we would be at McDonalds.
So it's not coding free software that causes the Money and Power comment,
most likely. It's probably something else, something that I've noticed
myself, which is possibly better expressed as Ego. Big Ego. Immense Ego. I
Am The Self-Appointed Leader Of The World Revolution And The World Should
Bow To My Genius Leadership Ego.
Now that I've said the truly unfashionable, please relax. I'm not pointing
fingers. Most FSF representatives are blameless and nice people, and the
rest of them are egotistical nice people, and damn it, who can blame them
for falling a little bit too far into their hype occasionally?
> > would be surprised. I bet with you, that they spent a lot of their own
> > private money to get this thing going.
> It's called investment. First you pay a little, than the big bucks are
> roling in. Not very difficult to get into the loop once the money starts
> rolling (see above about which money).
Hmm, I don't know if money per se is going to be the issue here, but to
play devil's advocate for a moment, it concerns me that it's a
theoretically exploitable system. What better monetary target than the
FSFE exists for a slightly confused company?... and it's not a democracy,
right? Not that I'm saying I don't trust the committee, but like the quote
says about a certain other political system, you have to be right about
every committee member, or it's corrupt...
Furthermore, one might say if one really wished to get flamed to hell and
back that the rule is 'spend money now, get privileged treatment later'.
> > Power? They don't have any power over the hackers. We still decide on our
> > own, if we want to do something or not. It's entirely up to us. And there is
> > no way, that they could change that. So which kind of power do you mean? You
> > would never accept the FSFE to tell you, what to do. Neither would I. So
> > which power? They don't have any and they will never get any. No need to
> > panic.
> I am not afraid of that, but they will use the hackers as a /power-base/,
> not as the ones they aim at. It is the reason they can claim against
> companies for being legitemate in negotiations/deals: "we represent free
> software in europe". Companies like that: small groups that can be hold
> accountable and be manipulated.
*laugh* ROTFL! ROTFL!
That's it, guys, the FSF 'don't have any power'. Remember, you heard it
first here. No matter that everytime RMS sneezes, it gets digitised for
100,000 Wired News readers, and the first reaction of the press when M$'s
tame marketing speechbot wags his jaw on the subject of 'Proprietary
software is best' is to go to RMS and Torvalds for an opinion. Whereas
half of M$'s advantage over us lot is their damn office software, frankly,
not their kernel, nor yet their C compiler- so why don't the media go
chat with Sun about StarOffice or the AbiWord team, or I don't know who
No. The press won't go any further than that for an opinion, you know. No
matter what software you wrote, it takes fame or at least notoriety to be
listened to... but of course the point of the FSF in a sense is that we
aren't all 'suitable' for the 'championing the cause' issue, and most
people prefer to leave it to the FSF. So yes, the hackers releasing,
installing, using, editing and documenting free software are indeed the
basis of the FSF's power. And they don't get to use this power themselves,
except through asking this non-democratic committee very nicely.
> > > Press release: ""this is the source for ```Authorative''' information
> > > regarding free software in Europe?????"
> > Well, that sounds really good to me. What's the problem? Obviously they
> > promote themself to be the "authoritative" source of information. And that's
> > good. It is exactly the idea behind it. The FSFE should promote free
> > software in Europe. Apart from that, your opinion is as authoritative as
> > theirs. Everybody can claim that. So why not the FSFE? That's not a law,
> > that's just a statement from an organization. If they will succeed to really
> > become the main source of information in Europe will depend on their work
> > and their decisions. And it will be _our_ choice, if we support them or not.
Oh yeah. Hey, Jean-Jacques, Nader, Bob and Ernst, Average Hackers, Do Not
Support The FSFE. Well, damn. That'll make front-page headlines tomorrow,
I'm sure. Like it or not, the FSF have the momentum and the history; you'd
never get far without them unless of course you're famous in your own
> > > The non-democratic core-team has spoken it's veto.... and GEE this is the
> > > FIRST dicesion you ever make !!! so we can get used to your dominance
> > > soon?
Get used to it is my suggestion. It's just *#&$^! management all over
> > Please... do you really think, you could impress politicians and companies
> > with a group of unshaved, unwashed long hair guys housing in tents in the
> > middle of nowhere?
I'm sorry. I just have to shout here. It's all guys, isn't it? That's the
problem for me; I know this is off topic for this conversation, I also
know I've mentioned this before and met with a resounding 'shut up' sort
of silence, but I have to say this:
The whole world seems to think that geeks ought to have beards, or at
least the ability to grow one. The FSF ought to be working to change this,
which means recognising it as a problem and trying to give the FSF less of
a boys-club atmosphere. The ACM (http://www.acm.org/women/) discuss the
general issue here.
There's no point in responding to this with a 'You're just paranoid',
because the ACM and the rule of statistics say that I ain't. There's also
no point in responding with a 'SoAndSo is female and she's in the FSF/on
the committee' or whatever, because I don't care, I'm not after
proportional representation. I'm asking that this issue is embraced, that
people are made aware of it, that FSFE members make an effort to avoid the
sins of the average male and attempt to work on merit. Even better, that
the FSFE makes some kind of a committment to it.
Which brings up the issue of the other thing hackerdom really needs, which
is some kind of a trade union. But I think another mail will do for that.
> > I doubt. I met some of them some time ago somewhere in a
> > pub and I can assure you, they are not "shrude managers".
So did I. I can agree with you that, at least in peacetime, the average
FSF member is a very nice person. But not necessarily infallible...
> > Politicians should see the picture, they expect. This doesn't say anything
> > how people really are. But since they've managed to fool you, they will
> > probably also succeed to fool politicians and that's really good news!
I do see your point, Marc. But be aware, if you would, that it is not
unknown for people to fall for their own hype.
> 1. I see no point in trying to influence politics: it won't work, not
> now not ever.
Probably wrong. Politicians are as stupid or stupider than the world in
general (or they'd have a REAL job), and believe me, it's worth going to
any length to impress them because a politician who's pro free software,
with all that entails, is worth a lot.
> 2. There is no need to be non-democratic to achieve this.
Personally, I'd rather like people to at least feel they had a say,
because otherwise I'm afraid the FSFE will collect a lot of annoyed
hackers on the way. They are, after all, claiming to be the ones who offer
official information on free software in Europe. That's what
'authoritative' means. I understand what they mean but it is tempting to
say something like, "gosh, they're offering official information on free
software, and there was me thinking that as the author of *insert bit of
free software here* it'd be my job to comment on it".
> How handy.... an independant Hotel "donating"...
I'm amused by this Villa Vogelsang thing. Jos is right that it's a
perfectly good example of the sort of nice freebie that 'altruistically'
putting your money into the FSFE might get you if you happen to toe the
party line. But then, this is a very cynical way of looking at it. If one
were all sweetness and light one would look at this whole issue and just
say, Gosh, how nice of that hotel to give our good and equally altruistic
friends in free software a free meeting place!
Plus, you know, it's the people on the FSFE /committee/ that get these
little perks. But we understand why, little as we understand on what
grounds they were chosen (unless I slept through the big introductory
scene, which I may have done), and we know that they're suffering all this
nasty staying free in nice places despite the fact that they're allergic
to sunlight, because they're doing it for us. How sweet of them.
> Don't you know /anything/ about bisnis? What about exposure, what about deals
> like "get some pictures of our hotel in the press-release, and you can stay
> there once in a while...". This is how the money game goes, and I see you
> are already sucked in (asuming for a minute that was not your aim, which I
> am /heavily/ suspecting). Possibly same for the LUG, dunno. And if this is
> an exception.... sorry, this is the way these things go, and it fits it like
> a glove on a hand.
> > > mouth is... /literaly/, not figuratively. Why don't you sell the villa to
> > > generate funds so we can buy computers for the kernel-hackers? Why don't
> > > you use that money to start printing free stickers to be given away
> > Because the Hotel doesn't belong to them.
> No, they belong in part already to the Hotel.
> Are you crazy/blind !?!
This is becoming a philosophical point; who's REALLY exploiting who here?
The attitude you look at it with makes all the difference.
> > It just offers them to host
> > events. And I'm sure, they didn't have to pay very much for it, if at all.
> > But I don't know.
> > > Don't think you can kid everyone.
> > They just want to kid politicians.
> It won't work, because the only one to kid them, is becoming them. You
> succeed good at that, yes.
Damn it, he has a point.
Insert Georg Greve discussing logos:
* Personal taste
* logo being symbol for an initiative, should be fresh
* Anja's used an 'old metaphor'
> > - In order to be able to get free software in the press and make sure
> > the legal systems will be in favor of free software instead of
> > making free software illegal because they weren't aware of it, we
> > need to work with politicians and the press.
> > This requires a logo that will look professional to politicians &
> > the press.
And it requires lots of other stuff that hackers can't stomach, because
it has been said previously that power corrupts.
But to be on the logo subject, we should have been over this problem many
months ago. Would somebody just write the letters 'FSFE' in a pleasing
font on a simple background, and then get on with it?
> > The FSF Europe has the vision to not just hack a few lines of code
> > today, we want to fundamentally change things and make sure free
> > software will prosper on the long-term scale. This requires thinking
> > in 30-year perspectives.
> And that's why I am afraid of you.
> You are a trojan horse. Well, you are not in the city yet....(I hope).
Georg is right that the FSFE has vision; Jos is right that it could all go
horribly wrong. People, please attempt to follow both arguments and go
into this with your eyes open.
Which I'm sure you all already do, not being at all interested in the
possibility of any nasty perks of the job, like being forced to suffer the
respect of your peers or the dreaded Corporate Freebies.
> > m.a.eberhard at aston.ac.uk Wed May 09 10:27:40 2001 Wrote:
> > On Wed, May 09, 2001 at 10:03:34AM +0200, josX wrote:
> > Jos, please tell us a bit more about yourself and
> > what you've done so far for the free software community as a whole. Which
> > "actions" have you taken so far?
> Does it matter for the things at hand?
> This is the adress of my website: http://www.xs4all.nl/~joshb
No, it doesn't. Either way. You can't choose committee members by the
software they wrote... but then you will find it hard to justify giving
power to entirely random people. Actually, though, the scary thing about
the FSF is that you don't HAVE to justify it. Nor do you have to justify
what you throw out.
(Which is why I keep harping on about the whole 'women in computing
thing', basically; because it's very probable that selection is not always
made on the right basis, as it is... please, don't flame, just try to
understand these concerns, hmm?)
> > > A very high quality Logo from Anja.... very nice indeed.... into the
> > > garbage-bin. Reason? veto *no comment*
I said it before; if you can't use it as a logo, but if it's a good image,
use it for a tshirt print or whatever. Don't let high quality work go to
> > That's not true. Georg did explain the opinion of the core team in detail in
> > a previous mail. It would have been nice, if that explanation would have
> > been repeated in the posting you refered to. Maybe that's another good
> > advice to the core team: Don't post in a hurry! Don't assume, people are
> > aware of previous mails, so repeat important points. This would surely avoid
> > a lot of confusion.
> I showed the pictures to my brother (who is unaware of anything btw) because
> he is good at sniffing out things by seeing the physical appearance, and
> he said "They look like bisnis-man, very relaxed and discussing something
> seriously. They don't look like old hackes with long beards but that may
> be an old idea... . They don't look like criminals".
> Why are you positioning yourself as being managers/politicians. Why can't
> you simply be like we all are. You are /not/ going to influence politics
> one iota, they are going to eat you whole wheter you like it or not, but
> I even suspect you'll love it because you can't possibly be that stupid.
I sympathise, to a point...
On one side, the FSF have to play at politician. On the other side, it
would be far better for us all if they remembered that they were only
playing. I expect that on the whole, they're aware of this fact, and that
egos are reined down tightly and attitudes are relaxed, just as they were
in the majority of FSF-involved gatherings I've ever been to. But
sometimes, one does wonder.
As far as I know, the FSFE people are mainly very nice; nonetheless, it's
so easy for a little power, status, and so on (even if the status comes
from the respect of one's peers) to influence one's actions. And people
have to avoid this.
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