GNU Business Network Definition comments

Alex Hudson home at
Mon Jun 26 10:49:09 UTC 2006

On Mon, 2006-06-26 at 12:22 +0200, Georg C. F. Greve wrote:
>  ah> Right. But I guess what I'm asking implicitly is, what is the
>  ah> goal of the GBN?
> Please see my mails of last week, they should be in the archive.

They don't really answer the question, though. I get that it's about
giving free software businesses an advantage, but what is it seeking to
actually do? For example, would it be more concerned with giving a
higher profile to existing free software businesses, or would it
prioritise getting non-free businesses to change their methods?

> All comparisons are limited. I find the comparison with food limited
> to the extent of being misleading, and not very useful, to be honest.
> Software has very strong network effects, that apply force on others,
> and take away their freedom of choice in a digital society.

I don't think it's an unfair comparison. Food also has network effects,
but they tend to be in production rather than consumption. The take-up
of sterile GM cash crops is one good example: it's the DRM of the seed
world. The production of salad is another: there are large regions of
the world, such as Kenya, where people are in drought conditions and are
ill from thirst because the water is being used to feed lettuces. The
choice to eat out-of-season produce in the West definitely does affect
people in other regions of the world - it's not an issue of personal

Of course it's not a exact comparison, but then nothing ever is. I think
we can learn a lot from Fair Trade type systems, though.

We should never support proprietary software. But, I'm not sure of the
utility of exclusively supporting those who never produce or support
proprietary software though. We've already seen that there is no fine
line between those who are "good" and those who are "bad": Shane's point
about how long you should be allowed to "convert" customers is a good
one, and doubtless there are an infinity of other situations like that. 

If the GBN is solely about applauding those businesses who do work with
only free software, then I suppose it will have its niche. I don't see
that type of system encouraging other businesses to change, though, and
that strikes me as the more important issue.



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