[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Gnu-arch-users] Why are we here?

From: Thomas Lord
Subject: [Gnu-arch-users] Why are we here?
Date: Fri, 03 Feb 2006 08:44:43 -0800

Thanks to all the people who have been sending me
good wishes re my skeletal system problems.  I find
the situation a bit frightening, of course, but you
have reminded that there is also reason for hope and
that there are things still worth fighting for.

The recent discussion about sleazy PR techniques
and how they relate to public projects is interesting.
I'd like to pose a question:

    Why are we here?

The Arch project has long suffered from a lack of having
a clear direction -- a "big umbrella" under which all of
our interests are unified.   In a way, that's because the
project has long suffered from having too many contradictory
directions: resume fodder for Tom, keeping Tom alive through
busking, helping to bootstrap Canonical corporation, making
real some advances in our understanding of revision control,
living up to being a part of the GNU project,  serving as the
"in-house" system used by several projects, defeating Subversion,
defeating Bitkeeper, winning kernel developers, providing a 
learning environment, providing a funky project that's fun to
work on as a hobby, helping to advance Savannah, and on and on...

All of those directions -- those goals -- have been valid at 
one time and many of them still are, but this is also a problem as
I see it.

Lemme make a corny analogy:

Let's suppose that the concrete resources of the Arch project --
the actual source code, the various archives, the mailing lists,
etc. -- are a horse-drawn carriage.

Let's suppose that every one of those *ideas* -- each of those
partial answers to "why are we are here" is a horse.

Somehow our carriage is always rigged -- tied -- to those horses.
And the horses are going to pull on their rigging.   Roughly speaking,
there are two kinds of configuration:

On the one hand, the horses -- our reasons d'etre -- can be teamed up
all facing in the same direction and with their combined power we
can go very fast in that direction and/or carry lots of weight in that

On the other hand, the horses can be tied scatter-shot to the carriage
so that they pull in multiple contradictory directions at once.  In this
case we make only random progress, at best, and more likely just rip
the carriage to pieces.   This is more or less the state we arrived at

Andy is doing very well, imo.  He's hooked some of those horses up to
one of the fragments of the cart and is making progress for the GNU
project and for a few who like to use the GNU releases.  My perception,
though, is that the potential is far greater than what we are
experiencing.   A good example is how the recent discussions about 
fixing up the documentation pretty much died as soon as the suggestion
to organize volunteers in that direction came up.

Maybe part of the problem is that we don't have a clear purpose -- a
unifying belief in what we are doing.   We don't have a clear statement
that we can use to recruit new volunteers --- a statement that might
have the logical form "Join this project if you want to help us do
_______".   We have only the empty circular way of filling in that
blank "help the Arch project".

If we were a corporation rather than a public project this question
would still be important but it would be far easier to answer.  We
would have a charter, a legal structure, a governance structure, a
budget, and objective metrics by which to measure key elements of

But we are in new territory and part of a new mode of social
organization.   We are at the bleeding edge (and wounded) of
free software development and open source public projects.

There is no law here, in this new territory.   Just us folks.
Shall we civilize?   I ask again:

        Why are we here?



reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]