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Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Free Software as a brand

From: Matthew Larsen
Subject: Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Free Software as a brand
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 20:05:58 +0100

Hey all again.

Yeah I know I was a bit cavalier in my post lumping FLOSS, OSS, GNU, FSF into one bunch ... but tbh, I think we are all getting too caught up in our own ways of viewing the software landscape we are forgetting about how to present all these different things to the world at large. This is the essence of what the article is portraying and what I was trying to point out ... yes we can argue the finer points of what differentiates these terms / organisations but fundamentally at a higher level the differences are trivial.

You sit in a business meeting and say GNU or FSF or Linux and EVERYONE lumps what you are saying into the 'Open-Source' category. If they are not in the know, do you try to explain the finer points of licensing to a business analyst? No, because they don't care. No-one cares except us. You just say 'Open Source' and rattle off the freedom, price and source-code accessability arguments. What I am advocating is creating some sort of brand that encompasses all of these things that we can slap on something. If you care, then you will look into it further. I do not know *what* the brand is, *who* it will be run by or *how*, just that I think there should be something.

It's important to keep in mind on a discussion of branding like this as to how people see the movement. How do government bodies view it? How do international organisations view it? The Media? Schools? I hope i'm getting my point here ... currently they have no idea how to view it. IMO computing and especially techie things like licenses, linux etc are seen as some sort of dark magic that only nerds can comprehend. And to a large degree they are completely right ... there is no coherence and we are a bunch of tech-heads arguing over trivial differences on a mailing list. Don't take that as a flame (indeed I think its a marvellous tool), I'm trying to highlight the point that to drive Free Software, GNU etc etc mainstream we need to provide a unified front and a unified image that everyone can identify with.

Thats 2c + another 2c :p

BTW I'm not in Manchester anymore so you can't all lynch me up mwuhahaha.

Matthew G Larsen
  > address@hidden
  > United Kingdom
  > www.twitter.com/matlarsen

On Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 12:15 PM, Lucy <address@hidden> wrote:
2009/6/15 Simon Ward <address@hidden>:
> On Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 08:34:27PM +0100, Lucy wrote:
>> > 2) This is Manchester Free Software not Manchester Open Source, its not
>> > even Manchester FOSS.
>> I suggest you read the article!
> I’m not sure the article is relevant to that comment, even though this
> thread began discussing it.

It is relevant because the article essentially spoke about overcoming
some of the differences between the two communities. We have so much
in common, that rather than focusing on the differences we should
stand up for each other. So no, while MFS is not an open source group
we still have a huge overlap with that community and should still
stand up for open source where that term is being used.

> The article talked about brand awareness and management and did not
> dictate how people should perceive them.  I think Manchester Free
> Software is still about free software primarily, and other terms such as
> “open source” and “FLOSS” are included where their goals (and public
> perception for that matter) align.
>> I agree, in my experience it is really confusing for people and I feel
>> that it's one of the strengths of Ubuntu, that they have created a
>> really strong, positive brand that people can easily understand.
>> Something like that for FOSS would be of real benefit (maybe like a
>> kite mark but more eye-catching).
> Unfortunately, Ubuntu seems to hold its brand in higher regard than
> freedom.  I therefore cannot support it.

When I talk to non-technical people about Ubuntu, I introduce them to
the 'brand' and I explain that Ubuntu means 'humanity to others' (they
always ask about the origin of the name even if I don't mention it at
first). They then immediately understand what it means, and that it
gives them freedom, in a way that is accessible and memorable for
them. So, yes I do believe that Ubuntu stands for freedom (although I
also agree that Canonical have made some really bad decisions
recently, separate discussion though).

Michael asked about the success of the four freedoms poster. Well, I'm
not sure that many people stopped to read it and I'm fairly sure that
those that did wouldn't have remembered it. I'm pretty sure they all
remembered the idea of 'humanity to others' though.

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