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[Fsfe-uk] AFFS strategy (Was: Beyond bitching...)

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: [Fsfe-uk] AFFS strategy (Was: Beyond bitching...)
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 15:21:25 +0100

On Wed, 2005-06-29 at 14:16 +0100, Tom Chance wrote: 
> I don't think the 'AFFS workings' thread (was 'Resignation from AFFS 
> committee') is very productive...

Well, like most things, some of it is useful, at least IMHO :)

>  at least, it isn't generating any kind of 
> consensus on what I think is the key issue:
> - What are the AFFS' goals, how should the AFFS best achieve its goals, and   
>   where does the structure of committee & membership fit into that? -

Sorry to be a regular butting in again :)

I'm not sure there is much argument over AFFS' goals; at least, in terms
of the headlines. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong :)

It is very much about what activities we do that helps achieve those
goals (not that they can ever be completely achieved; there is always
more to do), and what is the best structure in order to fulfil that.

We did discuss the structure side of things a little bit at last AGM,
it's a shame that discussion didn't continue.

In terms of achieving goals, there is a lot to say there (it's something
I've been talking about with others recently too). I'm pretty convinced
that this idea of workgroups that we've tried isn't working at all, and
isn't likely to. For a start, subject area - education and patents are
both subjects better handled outside the AFFS; there are other people we
should lend our support to (I'm thinking mainly Schoolforge-UK - who the
Open Source Consortium have taken a similar attitude to - and

AFFS should be taking much more of a lead in terms of public policy with
regards free software, and I think that is something that we should
focus on. There isn't anyone working on that area in this country, and
there are plenty of things wrong with our Govts. policy in this area.
There are also plenty of people who are interested in this subject,
witness the current actions wrt. software patents.

With regards AFFS being a membership organisation, it obviously has a
duty to its members. Primarily, I've seen AFFS as being another channel
of information for these people - and I think we've been better
communicating with our members in these last few months than we had been
previously. I don't think, though, that AFFS is used well enough as a
news channel - for example, we have one of the better diaries out there
in terms of free software events (there are few other places you can get
the same info), but we still don't regularly get people telling us about
their events - generally, the people we have had contact with in the
past do, people we haven't don't.

I think there's nothing stopping AFFS being a vastly more inclusive
organisation, but it hasn't worked out that way, and I don't think
there's any one reason for that. One of them is that, simply, AFFS is
not the right org for a number of people - we don't talk about open
source, for example. Some people are put off by the politics. I think
these things are facts of life, but not necessarily bad. I think the
"worst" reason is insufficient specialisation. If you look at the orgs
who do generate good participation - FFII-UK, Debian, LugRadio, etc. - I
think the one thing they have in common is a focus and commonality of
interest. AFFS has always been more of an umbrella org, and (I think)
suffers because of it - it's not really a natural home for many
activists, so doesn't attract activism.

This is all my 2p, obviously.



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