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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] New GNU

From: Michał 'rysiek' Woźniak
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] New GNU
Date: Mon, 7 May 2012 17:42:05 +0200
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Dear all,

A short introduction - I head the Free and Open Source Software 
Foundation in Poland[1]; we're doing a bunch of stuff and yes, we are 
thinking about ways to go out and get people on FLOSS (apart from 
doing some serious policy-level work).

Dnia poniedziałek, 7 maja 2012 o 14:02:11 Ramana Kumar napisał(a):
> I hope this is a useful place to begin this discussion!
> I recently read "Free Software, Free Society", which I found
> essentially by accident (via Wikipedia's page about RMS).
> Shortly after reading it I switched to a free OS (Parabola
> GNU/Linux), donated to the FSF (I'm in the process of joining),
> and joined this list.
> Now, I've been using GNU/Linux for at least 8 years, and I vaguely
> knew about the GNU project and the philosophy of free software,
> but I don't think I really understood it until now. I suspect
> there are a lot of people like me who use "Linux" and have either
> never heard of GNU, or have vaguely heard of it but don't know how
> it relates to them. GNU is old; the 30 year anniversary is
> approaching. More recently, I've been struck by the success of the
> "Spread Firefox" campaign, and the wide adoption of Ubuntu. So
> I've had this idea begin forming in my mind: why don't we launch
> GNU anew, and spread the ideals of freedom in a more modern
> context?

That is definitely something we need. I believe we do need to re-think 
many means that were used during the years to promote GNU and Free 

And I have a feeling that social networking and corporate clouds 
(being nothing more than a neat way to re-sell vendor lock-in yet 
again) are a huge problem that we need to address pronto. I think I 
would start with that.

> I don't think we would need much technically new. Existing systems
> like gNewSense are probably not far away from being as technically
> appealing as the hugely popular Ubuntu. The issue is marketing and
> image. I feel we need a new figurehead (or none at all): RMS does
> great work, but perhaps people learn too quickly to ignore him.
> And a powerful community-driven campaign to spread the ideals of
> free software. If such a campaign already exists, why hadn't I
> heard about it before?

That is true. I feel that Android (with all the freedom-related 
problems it has) is a good foothold in talking about free software 
with non-freesofties. However, it has the huge problem of closed, 
corporate cloud attached to it...

> If we start now, perhaps we can be ready in 2013 to not (just)
> celebrate GNU's 30 year anniversary, but to launch a new brand of
> freedom under whose banner to promote the ideals and successes of
> those 30 years of work.

Also true.

All in all I would kick off with a campaign about free/libre, 
decentralised social networks. That is of tremendous importance, as 
people are waking up about privacy *right now*. If we provide them the 
means to move away from closed/proprietary/centralised platforms (like 
Facebook or Twitter), we will achieve a significant victory.

And I have an idea of just such an action. As the main thing that 
keeps people from moving away from Facebook is the network effect[2], 
we need to help them move in groups. As in, for example, organising an 
"set-up a Free social network account day" or "close your Facebook 
account day" each month or so, and having people pledge participation 
on the action's website; having them log-in with their Facebook or 
Twitter, etc, accounts and have their friends notified about that 

Asking the "pledgers" to tell (in their own words, or by selecting 
from the list) their particular motives for their move, so that the 
message would be stronger ("I am leaving because I cannot get over the 
privacy concerns"), while providing us with invaluable poll data about 
what do people *really* care about these days.

That way people could see there are actually *many* among their 
friends that are thinking of taking their business elsewhere. For 
example - to free, decentralised alternatives.

After the day comes, people are reminded about the pledge, asked 
whether they went through with it, notified about their friends that 
did, etc - and, finally, suggested to move to a free-er operating 
system or web browser or office suite while they're at it.

I think that would be our best "vector" here. Whaddya think?


Michał "rysiek" Woźniak

Fundacja Wolnego i Otwartego Oprogramowania

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