GNU Business Network Definition comments

Sam Liddicott sam at
Fri Jun 23 19:11:49 UTC 2006

Shane M. Coughlan wrote:
> Sam Liddicott wrote:
> >> Georg C. F. Greve wrote:
> >>> There are people presenting "Microsoft Office on Wine" as "Free
> >>> Software best practice" and they would certainly ask to be listed on
> >>> any such initative -- most companies understand this to be a very good
> >>> tool of customer acquisition and thus have a vested interest in being
> >>> mentioned.
> >>>   
> >> I think that one step is to recognize the different types of
> activities.
> >> Here you have recognized that making closed source software
> available to
> >> people moving to open source systems as one type of activity.
> >> It is a supporting activity.
> >> Another step will be to classify different activities against these
> types.
> >> Here you recognize the MS Office on Wine presentation as such an
> activity.
> >> Different types of activities have different degrees of goodness as
> well
> >> as different degrees of ambiguity of goodness.
> Here - as they say - is the rub.  It's ever so important to make sure
> that the defining line between good activities and bad activities is
> drawn a the right place.  Companies with a closed agenda will attempt to
> apply 'freedom' or 'open' certification and recognition to their
> products if allowed.  Loop-holes, back doors and flaws in any part of
> the GBN reasoning will be taken advantage of.
Indeed. I'm suggesting that we work out what data we need and then
gather it so that we can understand exactly what types of activities we
are intending to draw a line between.
> This suggests that some ideals need to underpin the GBN concepts:
> (1) Any term, reference or certification must be watertight against
> misapplication or abuse. Each term, reference or certification must
> therefore support both the four freedoms and the Gnu Manifesto without
> exception.
Also, one may harbour a felon, or nourish one of the kings enemies,
there is room to say that one has aided someone else who lives by the
four freedoms and supports the GNU manifesto; i.e. merely a "friend."
This is not quite the same as (2) below.
> (2) Within the context of the above the GBN needs to provide a
> methodology of entry for firms that currently provide sales, support or
> services for software that is not free.  In other words, there should be
> a method for ensuring that companies that wish to become free can do so.
> (3) The GBN needs to ensure that companies who operate completely
> according to the ideals of the four freedoms and the Gnu Manifesto will
> be rewarded for their accomplishment.
> Perhaps the most difficult matter is (2).  That's where - as Georg and
> others pointed out - big nasty holes could appear.  Transition methods
> are not something that will be easy to work out.  On the other hand, to
> refuse a method of transition would marginalize the GBN in the context
> of computing in general and fail companies that have a genuine wish to
> convert.
> >> Let there be a lowly level of membership that involves paying money and
> >> providing information which will be used to provide awards of
> >> recognition and value. Those lowly members will have provided
> support by
> >> giving money to kick-start the whole thing. Membership rules can always
> >> be tightened a year later to cut out those who are seeking a cheap
> badge.
> I don't agree with the idea of having loose rules and tightening them
> later.  
The loose rules provide low membership which we CAN discontinue when
such low membership is no longer appropriate, such as when "friends"
become "hangers-on."
Higher membership will have higher rules reflected in (3) above.
> I believe the thought behind this suggestion is to promote
> inclusion, and that's great, but I further believe that such an action
> would undermine the legitimacy of the GBN.  Consistency is very
> important and the GBN will be under both close appraisal and pressure
> when it is launched.  There are certainly interest groups who would use
> any indication of confusion, lack of cohesion or coherency as an
> opportunity for criticism.
> It would be far better if the GBN had classification problems,
> membership remit and organizational structure fully formed before it
> goes public.  This would make it easier to sell, would make it more
> robust, and ensure that critics could only judge it for what it is: a
> network to bring software freedom into the business arena.
I quite agree, hence my suggestion that we look at areas of
classification and the range of values within each classification that
relevant companies and their activities fall into.

Once we have that, we draw a couple of lines to delineate requirements
for levels of membership and identify supporting activities to help
companies progress.


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