The fellowship meeting in Italy

David Picon Alvarez eleuteri at
Wed Sep 27 07:59:05 UTC 2006

From: "Stefano Maffulli" <stef at>
> As a coincidence yesterday a Italian friend wrote to me announcing his
> new book "The Family Guide to Digital Freedom" and website
>  His book is not free-as-in-freedom neither is
> completely public, but from what I saw his web site and collection of
> essays have enough 'meat' to contribute to a discussion on 'how to
> effectively advocate Free Software to moms and dads and kids'.  His
> language is provocative and sometimes confused, but it's worth reading
> it because I agree with him: the average rhetoric of FS advocates is not
> effective when pointed to average computer users.

Back to open source, just towards a different direction, then? Now instead
of selling FS to CIOs it's selling FS to non-programmers? Genuine inquiry
here, not accusation.

> Fioretti has done a nice essay titled 'Seven Things We're Tired To Hear
> >From Software Hackers'.  I don't agree with most of the points he makes,
> but indeed we can learn something from that essay and draw inspiration.
> For example, it would probably be useful to have a list of things that
> should be important for average people, voters and citizens that don't
> use computers or high school students.  Maybe we should invite
> professors to the this discussion and listen to their experiences, what
> do you think?

People who don't use computers are 1) extremely rare and 2) not much
affected by FS one way or the other.

I've read that essay, and I disagree with most of it. Most people might want
not to care about what software is, but wanting flying ponies doesn't make
them get()able.

Software isn't like in the 60s, a province of a few. Almost everyone uses
software one way or the other these days. While I don't see the average
person becoming a kernel developer, it seems clear that the level of
ignorance about software and computers is unsustainable and cannot continue
into the future indefinitely. People have learned what electricity is, after

Beyond that, though, I agree that the FLOSS community doesn't target
non-programmers all that well, but if it is true that what people want is to
forget about what a computer does, what a program is, what a file format
means, then it's just not going to be possible to target them.


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