Logo timeline

Stefan Meretz stefan.meretz at hbv.org
Thu May 10 22:30:56 UTC 2001

Hey, could we cool down a little bit?!

And maybe could we come away from those black-white views?

Frank Heckenbach schrieb:
> <cynical> Oh, great. Now we may not even take money for the good
> work we do if someone is willing to pay for it, we must also spend
> our own money in addition. This is really going to encourage people
> to write free software, isn't it? </cynical>

Turn it round: You want to encourage people to write free software for the money
goal? Think of the roots of free software: Free software never had started if
money were in the hackers eyes.

All money-game defenders sound like ESR, and I ask (me) why.

> I don't actually think so, or you have a very odd definition of
> freedom. Take a look at your own draft: it contains a long paragraph
> full of "It is not allowed to ..." and "must not". To me, freedom
> reads like "you *are* allowed to ...". And also to RMS -- the main
> "must not" he uses is "you must not restrict others' freedom"
> (paraphrased).

This is an important point: "you must not restrict others freedom" - and
therefore you have the most important restriction of GPL: you cannot change the
license using or modifying the software. Jos' question is now - as I understand
it - in the same spirit: Is becoming a business a danger for freedom of free
software? Take this question seriously, please!

I see this danger. Some wrote: hacking free software for money is better than
hacking prop software - want is wrong with that? I answer: the goal changes. I
try to explain it.

Hacking free software always is a very personal thing, which has a lot to do
with fun, have cool experiences, get acknowledgments, feel community, and stuff
like that. It has to do with _me_. I am the ground for hacking and nothing else.
This (and the community) is where the power comes from.

When money comes into this, grounds for hacking changes - maybe slowly. First I
think: Oh what I cool idea, I combine a thing I like with the necessity of
getting money from a job or a business. But then logics of business take place:
What does the market says? How can I combine free software with a thing (a
service or what else) to get money for it? Etc. These are _external_ demands.
Primarily they have nothing to do with _me_, but I must follow them because I
want to survive.

Greenpeace was brought up as an example. Yes, it is a good example how the money
game works. Greenpeace is completely oriented in getting medial attention,
because this directly corresponds to their income. They choose actions with this
goal. They design their demands with this goal. Don't misunderstand me: They
also want to change ugly things to the better, but this is not their primary
task. First they have to provide their employees! The criterion of success is
money and not reaching some demands. This is the kind of "success" I don't want
to have with free software. You can study how far corruption can go if you look
into german goverment. This is not a personal defect, it is how the money and
market logics work. Market is a universal dictator - and this not a secret.

I conclude: market is not freedom (as some rumors tell) it is a danger for

However we have to handle with this danger. To me it is ok, to hack for money
(free software or not), to have a business, or to work in hypermodern company
with flat hierarchies (IBM here in Duesseldorf where I live is an example) or in
a traditional one. Surprised? The main difference is that I don't glorify this
bad necessity. Working for money always means working for external (market)
demands, and this is bad, this is not what I want, this is not freedom. However,
I have to do it, because I want to survive, and I be always aware, that not that
work for external demands makes sense for but a lot of other stuff (including
free software). So my measure for success is not market success or much money.

So my pleading is a kind of a way in the middle? It is simple: Don't talk about
making money as a goal (neither in press releases nor on the web site), talk
about freedom and how to expand it. And be realistic and do what you need to do
to survive. And maybe in long terms think of a society where the freedom model
of free software replaces money and market (this is very personal and not a
topic of this list).


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