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

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] AFFS strategy (Was: Beyond bitching...)
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 17:52:54 +0100

On Wed, 2005-06-29 at 17:26 +0100, Tom Chance wrote:
> > I don't know what percentage of subscribers are members, but I'm not
> > sure it's terribly high - conversely, I suspect that a good proportion
> > of our members aren't even lurking here.
> I find the notion of members totally confusing as well. There are many 
> hundreds or thousands of people in the UK using, contributing to and 
> advocating free software. If the aim of the AFFS is, as the website suggests, 
> to "to promote the freedom of computer users in the UK through free 
> software", then in a sense all of those people are "members". 

Hmm, yeah, kinda. I think, though, my personal view has always been to
see AFFS members akin to, say, Greenpeace members or party members -
people who are aiding an organisation whose main aims are the betterment
of a society, rather than a community.

But, certainly, AFFS is serving two masters if you look at things that

> Just because of my political and ethical beliefs, I'd like to see the AFFS 
> embrace a radically decentralised, grassroots approach to achieving its aims.
> If that isn't what people presently involved want, then the alternative is to 
> retain a traditional NGO structure, and try to institutionalise the AFFS

My memory on the early discussions setting up AFFS is fairly dim now,
but I don't think that we picked the structure based on a huge amount of
"this is what we want", it was more "this will do what we want".  We
knew that we wanted to hold resources - bank account and capital, for
example - and following the standard model seemed to make sense at the

I think the idea of the "local AFFS" was that the less centralised
approach would be where most of the action would happen, and the central
AFFS body would take more of a facilitating role (thinking a kind of
inverted pyramid; central AFFS supporting local orgs, who then support
the local membership). 

I don't think we can do the completely de-centralised thing, but then I
don't know how things like bank accounts would work out. But, the
completely centralised thing doesn't really work either - the thing is
getting the balance between the two points.

> I think that this is what Alex is suggesting?

Well, it was more of a descriptive "this is how I've tended to view
things" - certainly, there were never particularly big debates about how
AFFS should structure itself and things have settled, rather than been
planned. I think I would be open to a variety of suggestions about how
AFFS should be structured; I put some of them to the last AGM myself.

I think it's fairly clear that Ctte has to be changed: it's never been
properly elected (in at least the way I hoped it would be), and was
designed to be much bigger than it has ended up being. Maybe one answer
would be to prune it back quite severely, and have a second layer of
"organisers" that is much more informal - the idea being having the main
ctte essentially run accounts/membership and support the organisers. 
The structure has always been a means to an end, and I think it's
figuring out what that end needs to be which would give us better idea
of how close (or not) we are.



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