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On keeping an open mind

This is not an FSF publication and even if it were associated with FSF in some official way, it wouldn't be an FSF propaganda site, contrary to what some might be thinking. This is a discussion site and keeping an open mind is one of the top priorities here. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be such an important principle to some in the GNU community. For quite a few times now I have encountered what I believe to be a dangerous trend among some people in the GNU community.

It usually comes down to the animosity some of them seem to feel towards the Open Source initiative and anyone who has anything to do with it, especially "ESR" or Eric Steven Raymond. Of course, the likely source of this animosity can be traced back to philosophical and ideological disagreements, but can these disagreements justify this animosity?

It has happened that at the very mention of ESR among some GNU supporters, they basically "cover their ears", refusing to hear anything about him or anything that he may have to say. Linking them with the World Domination 201 essay co-authored by ESR resulted in refusal to read it simply because it was written by ESR. Now, while it is not impossible to talk about Eric Raymond and Open Source in a Free Software oriented group and while a good deal of GNU supporters are open minded enough to such discussions, what I have experienced still merits a concern.

Is Eric Raymond truly such a raving lunatic that he shouldn't be heard? Is he really someone that doesn't deserve even little bit of consideration? Can disagreements and disliking of someone really be a reason enough to completely censor that someone from your view? I don't think so.

This cultism that sometimes developes among the Free Software supporters is not a good thing. It is not helping the cause. It is doing just the opposite. What can we expect someone considering the Free Software philosophy should think about it if the moment he mentiones "Open Source" or "ESR" he faces a blockade and an exercise of intolerance towards these people or their views? What kind of message does this send?

I consider myself a Free Software supporter all the way. Since recently I formalized my support in form of an FSF membership. I believe in software freedom as a paramount goal; I believe in everything that was a reason for the GNU Project to exist. Yet however I am not unwilling to listen to what those with opposing views have to say. I am not closing my mind towards articles written by the members of the Open Source Initiative, ESR, Linus Torvalds or anyone else.

Instead of just completely ignoring the "World Domination 201" document just because it was co-authored by someone who is an ardent opponent of the Free Software Foundation and its idealism, I have read it and analyzed it, considered the strategy it proposes, identified problems with its implementation in a couple of articles, initiated a discussion and even talked with Richard Stallman about it. Now, was this really a waste of time? Was it maybe better for me to just click the "close" button as soon as I saw that "World Domination 201" was authored by Eric Raymond?

I certainly don't think so. By giving it some consideration I am better equipped to effectively advocate what I in the end really believe in. Those who just refuse to listen to their opponents are defeating themselves. How can you effectively beat your opponents in a debate if you don't even know what they're saying?

Consider that even Richard Stallman, to whom even these I have to say "closed minded" GNU supporters bow, didn't refuse to read ESRs article as soon as he saw it was authored by ESR. He said that he "could fetch a copy" to read it and only in response to my explaining that this article advised a compromise did he change his mind about reading the article. There was nothing in his attitude that would suggest that he wouldn't consider what ESR is saying just because he is in stark disagreement with ESR in general.

So why am I writing this? The point is quite simple, and it is not about making the GNU community look bad. As a supporter of the GNU Project and Free Software for which it stands for, I wouldn't do that. I just think it is worth reminding that it is easy to fall into the boxed way of thinking, into "cultism" closed to outside opinion and that this failure is not in the interest of the Free Software movement.

We should always listen to those we don't agree with and always be ready to learn, rather than trap ourselves in the already learned "dogma" as something unworthy of questioning even by our opponents. Don't be open to that and you've already lost the debate.

Thank you
Danijel Orsolic

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Comments

floss is doing just fine...

 

just a small reminder of the big picture.

a long time ago linux was beneath notice.
a short time ago linux was the devil.
now microsoft is making deals with the devil.
now, who loses in the long run when making deals with the devil?

sometime a little perspectice is needed when discussions get hot and heavy.
let's place our effforts and energy where it's most needed.
floss has tremendous momentum because it works and meets our needs, personalities really don't have much to do it.

i advocate floss as the best solution, when it's the best solution. this is most of the time now. it's an exciting time and let's keep that positivism in all our dealings. this pursuades better than any hair splitting or personality analysis.

enjoy!

kelley g
floss-at-toasterz-dot-com

The case for not reading it

 

It certainly is important to keep an open mind. It is also an unfortunate fact that there are only so many hours in the day. And the essay in question is nearly 18,000 words long. Thus it is a practical necessity to think twice before plowing through it. I read the introduction, which devotes about one sentence to why world domination would be a good thing, and in outlining the essay does not promise any further discussion of this most important point. That one sentence says something about support from hardware vendors; but it seems to me the only support this would encourage is the "here's a binary driver" kind which doesn't really help. Why should I read 18,000 words on how to get everybody to use Linux when I still don't understand why this is desirable?

Quote: Why should I read

Quote:

Why should I read 18,000 words on how to get everybody to use Linux when I still don't understand why this is desirable?

Maybe simply to see why does ESR and Landley find that desirable? Smiling

Who said anything about

 

Who said anything about finding it desirable?

We find the alternative worse.

Rob Landley

(And yes, I noticed your replies to my earlier comments. Replying to them is on my todo list, but it's not the kind of thing I can do in 30 seconds...)

Oh, by the way, one reason

 

Oh, by the way, one reason _I_ find this desirable is http://landley.net/writing/stuff/commodity.html

I don't like large corporate interests dictating what I can and cannot do, but it really helps if you can phrase it in such a way that the zillions of individuals those large corporate interests are composed of can understand what the heck you're talking about. "They can take our lives but they can never take our freedom, chaaaaaaarge!" is not quite as compelling to these guys as explaining, in their terms, what's in it for them if they go along with what it is you want to do.

Re: Quote: Why should I read

 

Apparently I wasn't clear. In the introduction, they outline what they will discuss in the essay, and answering that question is not on the list. Am I then supposed to plow through 18,000 words in the hope that they discuss a point they didn't say they'd discuss?

I guess you're telling me that you've read it, and they do discuss that, which does encourage me to find the time to read it.

As long as I'm typing, I'll make another point. You deplore people choosing not to read this essay because it was written by ESR. But it should be noted that the only reason anybody is reading it is because it was written by ESR. I mean really, do you read everything that everybody has to say about FOSS? It is not humanly possible. Confess, you and everybody else who read this essay did so because ESR is one of the authors. If a couple people you never heard of wrote it, you wouldn't read it until you'd heard some good reason to spend the time from somebody who did read it.

> You deplore people

> You deplore people choosing not to read this essay because it was written by ESR.

My gripe is with a very specific kind of people who don't refuse to read the article based on some of the points you described, but solely because it is written by someone they can't stand. I mean their attitude is such that they wouldn't even go so far as open a link, let alone read the introduction as you did, which is obviously an overly extreme reaction if you ask me, especially if the one who presented them with a link to that article vouched that "this time, it makes *some* sense and might be worth looking at".

> I mean really, do you read everything that everybody has to say about FOSS? It is not humanly possible.

Of course not. Not everyone has the ability to influence as much people. Oh and not everyone puts sensationalist titles to their scientific looking papers like "World Domination 201". Eye

> Confess, you and everybody else who read this essay did so because ESR is one of the authors. If a couple people you never heard of wrote it, you wouldn't read it until you'd heard some good reason to spend the time from somebody who did read it.

Yes, I read it because it is co-authored by ESR and because I was a bit intrigued by the title. I mean, we all wish this OS to dominate, we all wish for Microsoft's monopoly to shrink away. I share those wishes and when I see a paper that presents itself as basically a plan of action towards achievement of these goals, I'll give it a read, no matter who wrote it. That ESR co-authored it just makes it seem more interesting.

Also, considering that Rob Landley was involved as well, I thought two brains working on something could produce something worth looking at.

But the kind of attitude I tackle here is the kind that would, after being presented with all these arguments, still reject to consider it because it has something to do with ESR.

Depends on your experience

 

If one equates the writing of ESR to that of e.g. someone called Rob Enderle, I don't blame them for not reading it. I stopped reading Enderle seriously some years ago. It all depends on your experience with the stuff an author writes. If you find that it constantly doesn't has the substance you care for, it is pretty understandable that you stop reading the new stuff from that author. No matter how hard someone else plugs it.

World Domination 201 was amusing though. I appreciate the heroic quest in it to "find the cure for cancer" by inflicting it upon yourself.

r_a_trip

bla bla bla

 

This group over here is close minded. They don't agree with me.

They won't read what my friend wrote.

Never mind that there are a billion things to be read in this world. They won't read the latest article by someone I like. So they are close minded.

They are also cultists who worship the most famous of their group.

I am a little mystified...

 

I tend toward the Free Software camp, but suspect the Open Source camp has some useful concepts as well.

I have been struggling with the whole "less than free" as a gateway to the "really free" to escape the "completely unfree" along with others for a while now.

I skimmed the ESR paper though I was already familiar with the points.

The part that mystifies me is your assertion that *GNU supporters* are the less open, or more dismissive?

I really don't want this to be a troll post of we are better than them, because I don't consider myself as solely a part of a Free Software we.

But honestly, I continually read about how GNU folk are _fill in the blank_ and it is always coming from people either outside of FOSS entirely, or Open Source folk.

ESR is a perfect example, look at any random sample of his statements toward GNU ideals or the people who carry them.

Read Linus's interaction on Groklaw about the same in his posts on GPL3.

Contrast them with Stallman's statements about Open Source.

They are completely different. I find the level of ad hominem attacks from folk outside the GNU community toward the GNU community to be so regular as to be endemic.

From the GNU side, yes there is an almost pedantic view of what is desirable and not, but it generally (read most of the time) is restricted to the *goals* of Open Source, *not* negative characterizations.

"This cultism that sometimes develops among the Free Software supporters is not a good thing. It is not helping the cause." what is a concrete example (in quotes) of this "cultism"?

Is it an unyielding position that anything other than Free Software is immoral?

I really want an answer from you on this because I think you are honest and thoughtful enough to give something valuable.

So many people *here in America* are so so quick and certain that the ideas of Stallman and the GNU are "cultish", "zealotry", "communist", etc. but I submit that the ideas enshrined in "capitalism" are no less "cultish" and the folks that ardently follow them have exhibited a far higher level of "zealotry" than any GNU person I have ever come across.

The two positions basically boil down to
1)libre code is better based on moral grounds (FSF)
2)libre code is better based on technical grounds (OSI)

Now here is the thing, I read GNU folks regularly as saying they are *both* important, with the moral argument taking precedent. I read OS folk, regularly, as saying *only* the technical is important, and the moral should be jettisoned.

Let me go further, that it seems to me in many ways the OSI did try to highjack the FSF, and continue to do so. Linus and the kernel teams handling of GPL3 are I think a good example. They didn't really engage the process, they had desires in conflict with the FSF but expected that their desires were more correct, more correct than the FSF's, for the FSF's own license.

It seems to me that the OSI has made a conscious attempt to revise history and marginalize to extinction the FSF.

I continue to hear the FSF saying, “this is what Free Software is (Free Software) and this (libre) is what is important.

And I continue to hear the OSI saying, “this is what Open Source is (Open Source *and* Free Software) and this (libre) is what is *not* important.

Free Software was started as an agent against Proprietary software and Open Source was started as an agent against Free Software.

The difference between the two is that Free Software is intellectually honest about itself.

**please delete previos post as site quality is worth registering and having this "go on my permanent record" Eye

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