Advocacy doesn’t work if you tell some

Sam Liddicott sam at
Tue Nov 2 08:44:14 UTC 2010

On 02/11/10 08:20, Stephane Ascoet wrote:
> Jelle Hermsen a écrit :
>> I derived this idea from social psychology and I would love to hear what
>> you all think of it.
> Hi, I think you're right. We're facing the same issue while trying to convince people to stop meat consumption.

Often I think it is a case of people valuing different goodnesses. A 
person did not chose proprietary software for bad reasons, but generally 
for reasons which when balanced seem good. Sometimes the reasons come 
from a different perspectives which are often unassailable, but not 
shared by both groups.

For example; with meat, I consider that I must eat some protein and ask: 
which is most kind - to let the protein enjoy a few years life as a cow, 
or to make it have a shorter life as a bean, or in a tank? I consider 
that my protein would have more happiness as a cow and so by market 
forces I eat meat so that more protein may have more happiness. This is 
not a widely shared perspective but yet the only pro-vegetarian argument 
I know that comes near it relates to ill-treatment of animals, and of 
course I want my meat to be happy before I eat it. (I don't eat a lot of 

I think this viewpoint may be instructive in the software-advocacy field 
too, and that Jelle raises good points; So I now try to extent what I 
learn from my views on meat to a general form and come to this principle 
which I learned somewhere else:

   Add to the good others already have

which means don't ask others to throw away their current position and 
start again to "do it right" and this is logical for you would be asking 
them to have confidence that you are exactly right, otherwise the next 
day someone else may point out your error and they would have to "start 
again" again.

I made an observation about contexts yesterday in relation to a computer 
product that has Z in it's name. It's name is spelt TZ and it's name is 
pronounced TeeZee because it is an American product. To the American The 
product is "TeeZee" as spelt and there is an unconscious underlying 
American context. To me as an Englishman the American context is raised 
to surround the name and affect how it is pronounced: "TeeZee" and spelt 
"Tee Zed".

The point of this observation is to show that the American does not 
realise that the product name is not pronounced as it is spelt because 
his context blinds him to that.

The American could have this explained to him, but he would only truly 
appreciate it when he realises that outside USA represents a bigger 
market than inside USA.

We know that the proprietary captive cannot understand the disadvantages 
of captivity until it prevents him from exercising liberty.

Therefore, as is said, attacking reasons which from his context were 
un-important or seemingly somewhat beneficial questions his judgement 
and as Jelle says makes you an enemy.

The safe thing to do is to add to the good they have. Once the TZ 
product is marketed outside the USA, the marketing department are happy 
to revise the "pronounced as it is spelt" belief, or even change the name.

So my view is offer to add to the good people have; acknowledge how 
their choice helped them, and offer them more help.


[FSF Associate Member #2325] 

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