Constructive measures to help people communicate freely

Andreas Nilsson an at
Mon Mar 26 06:14:23 UTC 2018


I think this is an important topic. I do not know much about what you
call "social media", I would prefer to have a personal site where I
post the data I want the public to see. I use Facebook almost solely
for instant messaging with close friends, so speaking of IM what tools
are there for this kind of communication? I didn't see you bring
anything up about that.

There is also conference communication and phones, also important topic
to bring up I think.

I for example do not have a mobile phone, but I do have an IP based
phone and I am not particularly fond of calling without the option to
encrypt the dialog.


On Sun, 2018-03-25 at 18:08 +0200, Paul Boddie wrote:
> Hello,
> There has been a lot said recently about Facebook, Google, and other
> entities 
> that facilitate online communication through services that have
> hidden impacts 
> on people's freedoms. But as I noted before, it is more constructive
> to focus 
> on how we in the Free Software community can help others communicate
> using 
> more respectful tools and services.
> This isn't just in the context of recent discussions about Mozilla
> and 
> Facebook: I also mentioned it when Daniel suggested a plugin to
> remind people 
> about how their use of proprietary, exploitative services might be
> impacting 
> their freedom and those of others. While I understand what the
> motives are for 
> doing something like this, telling people that they are bad only
> really 
> appeals to people who like punishing themselves or who admit to
> weakness and 
> want someone else to apply the discipline.
> Now, it is often the case that any negative message is accompanied by
> a 
> positive one. One might suggest a range of alternatives that are
> better for 
> people. So, people have already suggested that the FSFE and the
> community in 
> general promote things like Diaspora, GNU Social, Mastodon, or
> whatever. But I 
> don't think this goes far enough.
> In the context of the FSFE, one may consider the campaigns that are 
> occasionally run by the organisation. An interesting example is the
> PDF 
> Readers campaign which attempted to promote Free Software PDF reader 
> applications and to demand that public organisations advertising the 
> proprietary Adobe Reader stop doing so.
> Much of the focus of the PDF Readers campaign appeared to be on
> getting those 
> organisations to stop giving Adobe's software free advertising. I
> support such 
> efforts and even attempted to participate in them. But the other side
> of the 
> campaign involved promoting the Free Software alternatives, and it
> was in this 
> area where I think much more should have been done.
> Anyone going to the site will see a list of
> applications, and 
> the diversity of Free Software means that there is plenty of choice,
> but a 
> consequence of this is that it would have been awkward for people to
> take the 
> intended positive action when confronted with such information.
> Admittedly, it 
> is a complicated problem to solve: how can such a campaign suggest a 
> relatively simple, concrete action that helps the user to do the
> right thing?
> But it goes beyond whether people can get started with the right
> solutions. 
> Many of us will have been faced with documents that need certain
> features in 
> the application we are using. Things like forms in PDF documents,
> for 
> instance. It is likely that some of the suggested solutions do not
> support 
> forms, and others may have problems with whatever Adobe's authoring
> tools 
> emit. Standards-compliance is difficult, especially when proprietary
> software 
> companies often indulge in a bit of "front-running" to lock people
> into their 
> own products.
> In other words, promotion and advocacy are not enough. Support has to
> be given 
> for people to actually develop and improve the solutions we suggest.
> And the 
> combination of solutions suggested for meeting people's needs must be
> coherent 
> and provide an obvious path for them to follow. Where there are
> deficiencies 
> or gaps in those solutions, support has to be given to make the
> campaign 
> message credible rather than "here's some cool stuff, you're on your
> own now".
> Another relevant example involves things like the use of encryption 
> technologies for personal communications. How many times have we been
> told 
> that encryption is important only to be confronted with lengthy
> "instructive" 
> texts full of caveats and the hedging of positions on things like
> key 
> management? That maybe the way to adopt such things is to become an
> expert 
> yourself and, by the way, good luck! People just get put off from
> doing 
> anything at all because at any moment someone might berate them for
> "doing it 
> all wrong".
> With such considerations in mind, does anyone else think that the
> topic of 
> genuinely free communication might be worthy of a comprehensive
> campaign? One 
> that would focus on solutions and not problems.
> Paul
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