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Re: [fsfc-discuss] Do we have our own Canadian "Words to Avoid (or Use w

From: Fabián Rodríguez
Subject: Re: [fsfc-discuss] Do we have our own Canadian "Words to Avoid (or Use with Care)"? (Was a reply to "Hello")
Date: Sun, 29 Jan 2012 17:04:38 -0500
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tl;dr: The GNU project is not only development, it's also the philosophy
that leads the FSF. Focusing on terminology helps get there, but is
often used as a distraction from getting things done.
Canadian SOftware Freedom conservancy ? Sure, but let's get the FSF
Canada done first.

On 2012-01-29 09:07, Russell McOrmond wrote:
> (New subject line referencing
> http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html  I thought this was on
> the FSF.org site, where it should have been. I suspect this is part of
> the confusion between GNU and FSF.
> http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/words-to-avoid.html redirects to the
> GNU website...)

What confusion ? Seems pretty clear to me on the GNU project site:

> On 12-01-28 07:21 PM, Stephen Paul Weber wrote:
>> People who hate DRM/TPM have in my hearing disparaged DFD because of
>> ties to
>> GNU.  I am not saying this is rational, only that it has happened.

>   I'm partly wanting to discuss this more as I want to ensure our (and
> my own) advocacy work can avoid some of the misconceptions and pitfalls.
>   It is interesting, but I've heard these types of comments associated
> with RMS, and through that the FSF as many see it is his project, but
> not before the GNU project.

>   While I agreed with what he said (the actual wording), there were many
> people uncomfortable with what RMS wrote when Steve Jobs died. I've had
> associates tell me they didn't want to use the "Free Software" term any
> more because they didn't want to be associated with the impression
> portrayed by the media about what Richard said.

By that logic we'd need to agree with everything on Stallman.org to
advocate any use of free software. Whoever understands who RMS is, who
Steve Jobs was and was willing to give up using free software because of
personal comments on a personal site really are not our audience and we
should not focus on them, at least not within the (possible) FSF Canada
organization - and not even within a FLOSS advocacy group.

In fact I can guarantee 99% of people using free, open source software
don't even have any clue who RMS is. When I hear how "damaging" some of
his opinion or actions can be I can't relate to any of that (having met
him in person on several occasions), quite the opposite, so we need to
start focusing on what is right and look forward: how can we inform more
people and make using free software as common as being ethical ?

I *love* such discussions, but they're mostly opinions. "It's a trap".
The fact is any use of non-free software is an attack on user's freedoms.

>   When I'm talking to politicians [...] I avoid talking about "Fair Use" or 
> "Fair Dealings", as I personally
> feel these are a distraction from the critical questions of who owns the
> computer, who should hold the keys to any digital locks, and weather
> owners should be protected in their right to make their own software
> choices.  I have found it unfortunate that everyone from Defective by
> Design to Michael Geist have spent so much time discussing fair
> use/dealings.

Well, you're talking about software and they are talking about content
restrictions enabled by software - different although related. I don't
believe you can avoid each other and they are bound to discuss what they
know best or focus on what they feel they're more effective at, so maybe
you can find other ways to improve your approach.

>   My view that Free Software is the equivalent to software code as
> access to information and related transparency/accountability policy is
> to legal code has proven to be a distraction for many politicians.  They
> are not ready for the "code is law" level of the conversation.

I cut a lot of fat when presenting this. To me it's all about ethics and
that principle is really much older than the FSF, GNU, etc. I believe
this mailing list is about that: finding the "level of converwsation"
for Canadian audiences.

>  I have
> found I can't always have that conversation with fellow members of the
> FLOSS community, as many do not agree there are moral, ethical and other
> issues with proprietary software: they see it as a developer choice
> rather than a societal governance issue.

The "FLOSS community" is vast. If you can't discuss with such people,
focus on other matters. I have a feeling they will unsubscribe this list
in the next few days or will never find it. When I meet such people I
celebrate they becoming new FLOSS users - but don't force them to become
advocates (other than by the example the can set).


>   If I were given the choice, I would prefer creating a Canadian Free
> Software Conservancy to creating a Canadian GNU project.   I think we as
> a community have matured to the point where having a legal/business
> support umbrella for a wide variety of independent non-profit
> incorporated software projects is better than having a single non-profit
> that centrally manages everything.  The GNU project started at a time
> before the communications networks and distributed development tools we
> take for granted today.

I am not sure what you refer to as a "Canadian GNU project", this thread
(and list) is about a possible FSF Canada.

The Software Freedom conservancy is aimed at developers and their
projects ("...helps promote, improve, develop, and defend Free, Libre,
and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects."), which is important - but
the FSF is also aimed at users and IT in general ("..to promote computer
user freedom and to defend the rights of all free software users."). I
think we're trying to establish if / how and FSF Canada can be.

- --

Fabian Rodriguez

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