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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] New GNU

From: Dave Crossland
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] New GNU
Date: Mon, 7 May 2012 14:36:22 -0600


On 7 May 2012 12:35, Jason Self <> wrote:
> The goal of simply getting people to use free software (aka "popularity") is 
> not
> enough, in my opinion. The goal should be to instead teach people about why
> freedom matters so that they will refuse proprietary software and not run it
> anymore. The big question is how do you change people's *values* and get them 
> to
> value freedom? Anything that doesn't do that means that they'll just switch to
> the next neat thing when that comes along later.

I don't think one can change another people's values. We only change
our values for ourselves. We need to choose to do so.

To make choices, we need experiences, and know of examples of similar
things other people have experienced, in order to generalize a
principle from those experiences. If we can internalize that principle
to apply to our actions going forward, and not merely agree in theory
to it, we change our behaviors. It is behavior that social movements
seek to change, not blah blah about 'values.'

For example, to break this principle down in terms of bug fixes:

1 Software Freedom matters.

2 Software Freedom matters because it means a person can do anything
they want to.

3 Software Freedom matters because it means a person can do something
they wanted to do, as they did not need anything from anyone else to
do it.

4 Software Freedom matters because it means a person can fix a bug
they wanted to be fixed, as they did not need permission from another
software developer to modify a program's source code.

5 Software Freedom matters because it means Jason Self fixed bug
#761523 [URL] that he wanted to be fixed, as he did not need
permission from [bacula maintainer] to modify that program's source

So if you present these items in reverse order, 5 4 3 2 1, that is
much more likely to make sense to people - especially if there are
lots of concrete examples like 5, many slightly abstracted examples
like 4, something like the '4 freedoms' on the level of 3, perhaps a
few more ways of phrasing 2, and 1 is irreducible.

Beyond bug fixes, there are writing feature extensions, and making
upstream contributions of bug fixes and new features. Is it easier to
write an extension to Firefox than to extend a GNU program? Emacs was
written to be extremely easy to exercise software freedom with. Beyond
that, is it convenient to get patches into a GNU project's 'upstream'?

I find the OP's point is valid: The GNU project is not visible to many
users of free software. I think this could be improved not by
brand/marketing activity, but by actively maintaining GNU software in
a way that invites exercising freedom and participation in the GNU


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