m.a.eberhard at aston.ac.uk
Thu May 10 09:50:28 UTC 2001
On Wed, May 09, 2001 at 03:23:55PM +0200, josX wrote:
> Marc Eberhard <m.a.eberhard at aston.ac.uk> Wrote:
> I gave my POV.
Which I do appreciate very much.
> You don't seem to want it, so nothing more I can do here it seems.
That would be a shame. We have subscribed to this mailing list, because we
have some common interests. Yes, I think we really do have some common
interests. And our discussions has maybe led us to believe, that nothing
like this exists, so I want to try to point out the things we agree on and
the tings we don't. It seems to me, that we have just forgotten about that
point completely and that it is high time to remember it. I think, there is
much more we (including you and me) can do here.
> Make no mistake: agreeing with me would mean completely
> restructering the FSFE (to the point of desolving and starting
I think, it is OK that we don't agree in everything. And I would see the
solution in the following way: If we find a common set of statements we all
agree to, we can promote these basic statements together and remain tolerant
towards the additional statements others make for themselves.
> new with a different outlook (and everything different frankly)),
> and distancing the FSFE from everything that has to do with money.
Hmmm... let's for a moment forget about the FSFE completely.
> Making it completely flat, no hierarchy whatsoever, even to the
> point it will be impossible to have an hierarchy (however inofficial).
That's probably the right model for developing free software. That's how it
is done and that's how it should be done. I'll come back to this later.
> In *my* scheme /you/, the whole "influence politics"-thing will be a
> project, a thread on the NG. That's how it works: no hierarchy, no control,
> everyone is free, and working *along side of eachother*. No core-team,
> no "director", no nothing.
I think, this is the right model to develop code, but I have doubts, that it
is the right to influence political decisions.
> In *your* scheme, this forum is one of your activities, one that you can
> control (oh, yeah: """coordinate""", right) from above, maybe so you can
> have your finger in everything... or whatever, i don't know.
Hmmm, that's not really the idea, but I agree with you, that this danger
> Don't come back with saying "yes, good idea, blah blah blah". You are
> either decieving others, and very possible some of you are decieving
> themselves I think. Good luck with keeping up appearances.
I just try to be fair and to see both points of view. I really have no
intention to deceive anything or anybody. And if I say, that I like an idea,
then it is ment that way. Really.
> One last thing: do you know what kind of "vibes" come to me from you
> when writing this?
> Not those you expect from hackers, or good-meaning people trying to do good....
> no: the `vibe' of a bisnis department, scrambling to cover their ass.
I will try hard at the end of this mail to convince you, that I'm not like
> Sorry to have been rude. Normally I am not, but we are talking about
> things that people have given away in good heart, and now you come along
> and say it is perfectly alright to make money from it... just because no-one
> forbid it.
I take that point and I will comment on it later in this mail. I did not
realise, how sensitive some people are about this issue. I appreciate, that
you have pointed this out clearly.
On Wed, May 09, 2001 at 02:35:40PM +0100, E L Tonkin wrote:
> 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...
I agree with you, that this is a real danger. And it will cost the members
of the FSFE a lot of work to continuously assure us of their integrity. It
is correct, to be critical and to watch their steps carefully.
> 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
Question: Is it the FSF or RMS? I don't think, it is the organization
itself, I think it is the reputation that RMS has build for himself over the
> 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
> right. Sorry.
I think, that's the point. There are some individual, that are famous in
their own right. It's not the organization itself. So if the programmers
would stop to support the FSFE, it would have a much harder time to survive
on a long time scale. We're not talking about headlines in the news, that
are forgotten the next day.
> I'm sorry. I just have to shout here. It's all guys, isn't it? That's the
> 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.
That would be good. Let me make a personal commitment: If I talk of hackers
with beards, I do use this as a symbol, that stands for every hacker, male
and female. But you're right to point out, that this symbol is politically
incorrect and that we should think up a better symbol. I will try to avoid
it in the future.
> 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.
That can happen, indeed.
> 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.
Hmmm, this sounds a bit like Jesus... if you don't suffer in front of
everybodies eyes, they will not believe you. Well, I wouldn't expect such an
appearance and I'm not sure, if it would be a good idea. Of course you're
right, that it is more tempting to stay in a hotel than a tent. But I think,
we should remain rationale here. If there is a practical advantage, it
should not be rejected, just because it might look like some unfair
privilege. But it definitely needs to be monitored carefully.
> 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?
Yes, that's a good idea. This will do for at least the first years. And once
the FSFE is known more widespread one could ask again for ideas and
hopefully the presented examples will then be more suitable. The guidelines
for the logo should be made known _before_ the first sketches are published
to avoid further disappointment. There are really more important issues to
start working on at the moment.
> 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.
Yes, we should do that. That's exactly what I try to do.
> > > > 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
> waste ;-)
Yes, completely right. In any case: Anja, we do like your drawings and we
can print them on T-shirts with or without the FSFE. If they object against
it, then we don't use the word FSFE on them, but something like: "Support
free software in Europe!".
On Wed, May 09, 2001 at 03:30:48PM +0100, E L Tonkin wrote:
> Part of it is a matter of viewpoint, and too subjective to be removed by
> realities like charity status... are there really no perks of the job
> available only to that Privileged Few of official committee members or
> whatever? Couldn't you find that offensive if you weren't in that
> committee yourself?
You will always need at least a minimum level of trust into these persons.
No matter, how they are organised. Without trust, there is no way to
> One of the differences between the FSF and most charities is that,
> frankly, there's a lot of rich companies interested in Free Software, who
> correctly or otherwise see the FSF(E) as part of the answer.
> Whereas, if you're a spokesperson for Ringwood Abandoned Cat's Home or the
> Westwood Homeless Shelter Project, you're living in a different set of
> circumstances. And you're not associating yourself (even accidentally;
> like I said, FSF people are usually very nice) with other peoples' work.
Does that mean, you would propose to have members in the FSFE, that are not
living on writing software? Even if they could only dedicate a small amount
of their time to it, because they have to earn their money first and then
take care of the FSFE in their free time? I'm not sure, if we were better
off that way. Maybe such a watchdog inside the FSFE would be nice.
> At best, and as most people here probably see it, the FSFE is an
> invaluable service to hackers. But it's probably worth trying to make
> sense on precisely what that service is.
> You know, people, I think that the FSF might even suffer from the fact
> that it's a lot of things to a lot of people. It offers a philosophy, a
> way of life, freedom, camaraderie - and a software licence. That's a lot
> of stuff to get right. And we spend our days fighting about the logo (!)
Well, I see it at the moment as a normal part of forming a team. We are more
or less all new here. That makes it obvious, that there will be some basic
discussions to really get together.
Now as I promised several times in this mail, I would like to start to look
at the things we do have in common. At the moment, this is of course just my
personal opinion, but I hope, that you will comment on it and that we can
develop this together. I try to formulate it in as simple as possible
(1) Free software is a good idea.
I think, this is the central statement and I think, we also agree in most
parts, why it is a good idea. However I would leave it to everyone to
decide, why she or he personally thinks, it is a good idea. Based on this we
want to achieve the following goals:
(2) We want to protect and defend our freedom to develop and distribute
(3) We want to develop and distribute free software.
(4) We want to encourage people to write free software.
(5) We want to encourage people to use free software.
Has anybody objections against this?
I think, the tricky part begins here. It starts with the question, how we
want to implement these goals in practical actions.
It seems to me, that the easiest part is (3). We can do that just as Jos has
proposed. No organization, just happy hackers. We will need some forum to
coordinate efforts and to avoid, that two people waste time by doing the
same thing. A mailing list or news group will do fine.
For (4) and (5) exist at least two different approaches: We could just
"live" it. We could just be a positive example, that will eventually
convince other people and thus spread the idea. I would call this the
passive approach and I think, this is what Jos has in mind. The alternative
is to actively promote free software. Let's call this the active approach.
This does involve raising funds, writing press statements, talking to
political parties and companies, sponsoring free software events, paying
programmers to write free code. This active approach needs some form of
organization. If the FSFE is the right one for it, we will see. The
arguments will include the high quality, security and availability of free
software. The freedom to adapt it to specific needs and the possibility to
fix bugs yourself. I think, the two ways are compatible up to this point.
However there is the money issue. It seems to me, that it is acceptable to
everyone, that free software can be used in commercial environments. However
many object strongly against advertising this fact. Especially the fact,
that it is possible to make money out of free software by using it as a base
of some kind of buisiness. So this argument should not be used, even though
it does exist.
It is not clear, if the huge mass of hackers will in the end produce more
free software then companies, that make money out of it. It is clear
however, that commercial exploitation of free software will decrease the
number of people, who are willing to contribute for free. It is absolutely
right to ask, why some people contribute for free while others do earn money
with it. So this is a very sensible point. To keep the motivation among
those hackers high, that contribute without asking for a return, it is
necessary to _not_ advertise free software as something to make money out of
it. There are enough other good arguments, so that we don't really need this
However we do have the problem, that (5) includes private use and commercial
use. I think, nobody would want to change (5) into something like: We want
to encourage people to use free software for private use, but not in a
commercial environment. That wouldn't be freedom, would it? So we have to
accept the fact, that it is used for commercial purposes. And this includes
the fact, that there will be people making money of free software. But with
respect to the feelings of many hackers, it shouldn't be used as an argument
for free software. It should only be accepted as a known fact.
Now I finally have to come to (2). We can again act passively and actively.
Not doing anything, would mean to hope for politicians to be smart enough to
understand the problem. Unfortunately this has been proven wrong in the
past. So we need to do something. We need to defend our freedom actively.
Again, an organization is necessary and comes in handy. Since we're not
talking about buisiness, but about laws, there should be no conflict
concerning money. So I think, we will have no problems to find an agreement
Hmmm... well, yes that's it for the moment. Thanks for reading it all! I'm
looking forward to read your comments, flames, etc.
email: marc at greenie.net
email: m.a.eberhard at aston.ac.uk, web: http://www.aston.ac.uk/~eberhama/
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