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Re: awareness + flexibility + security

From: Jonathan S. Shapiro
Subject: Re: awareness + flexibility + security
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 07:48:25 -0500

On Tue, 2005-11-15 at 06:53 +0100, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> > In the end, open source will not succeed or fail with the masses on the
> > strength of its moral position. The masses mostly don't care. Open
> > source will succeed or fail because it is better, more agile, more
> > responsive, and more robust. GPL is a very effective tool for building
> > collaborations, which is why it sits underneath so much good code. If
> > you go out and say to people "give bits away because it is right", they
> > will mostly laugh at you. If you go out and say "give bits away because
> > it serves to accomplish something you care about" you stand a chance of
> > success.
> This is highly disputable.  The masses may not care _now_, but they
> certainly can care, and they may care if they are educated on the
> issue, against the corporate propaganda.

I did not mean to suggest that people cannot be educated, but it has
been my experience that pursuing this type of education requires an
infinite investment and takes forever unless there is a compelling and
emotionally immediate example. For software, open source is providing a
compelling example simply because there exist successes, and these
successes are taking over the world.

Someday, the masses may care. In my opinion, the second coming of Christ
is likely to happen first -- even if you *don't* believe in Christ.

> Mass mobilization has happened before, it can and will happen again.
> See for example the environmental movement, or women emancipation.

Yes, let us examine these two cases. We are watching the arctic circle
melt away in front of our eyes. And in a minority of the world, women
are co-equal in law, as long as we don't look too hard at issues like
reproductive rights, allocation of medical research funds, laws
governing sexual practices, or such issues.

Both of these movements are making progress, but that progress comes
slowly, and it comes at the cost of many lives. And these issues are
relatively immediate and personal -- everyone knows someone who has died
of breast cancer, and everyone can see before their eyes that their
living spaces are becoming progressively more crowded. In my opinion,
publication is much more abstract and removed in the eyes of the general
public. How many people have died for open source? How many of us would?

I do not propose that we should abandon this fight. I propose that we
should not delay for its success.


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