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Wired on the Free Software Dinner
By kholmes, Section News
Posted on Sat Aug 17th, 2002 at 07:05:04 GMT

Wired has a story called "No Free Dinner for Free Software". They talk about the fundraising dinner the FSF hosted featuring Lawrence Lessig.

Lessig also says, while acknowledging Stallman's necessary role as an advocate, believes the cyber-rights movement needs a new type of leader, "some 23-year-old" raised during the age of the Internet who can articulate the copyright and patent issues.

I've thought this for a long time. Any volunteers? :)


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Wired on the Free Software Dinner | 7 comments (7 topical, editorial) | Post A Comment
[new] It's hard (#1)
by marcus (#311) on Sun Aug 18th, 2002 at 16:41:35 GMT
(User Info) http://www.marcus-brinkmann.de/

I am not volunteering :)

I have some experience advocating free software and the free software philosophy to `mere mortals', although I am sure there are other's who have more. And, most of my experience is not with businesses, but with random other people, mostly students of various subjects. I gave one interview on the subject to a non-technical newspaper.

My conclusion is that it is very difficult to bring across the message. It's complicated enough to explain the copyright and patent issues that we face in software to someone who is already using computers. To someone who is not using computers, it is possible, but quite more difficult. From my experience, it takes about an hour of private conversation to deliver the basics. But the challenge really starts if you face someone who has experience with copyright and patent issues from another point of view (publishing, engineering, etc), because then inevitably they will try to project their experience on other subjects, and it is very hard to demangle it and bring the correct arguments at the right spot.

I have spoken a couple of times to RMS, and I am always impressed how well he has the arguments arranged, and always knows what to say on copyright and patent issues. He also recognizes all possible traps in the discussion and can put the discussion back into line. This is something were his experience as free software advocate really shows. You are now looking for someone who can do this in the non-technical world, too. And this means that you have to communicate the philosophy to publishers, engineers, anti-globalists, economists, environmentalists, and they all have their own philosophies and try to find out how your ideas apply to them and where they think they are different. There will be situations were people try to transfer your ideas and try to apply them in the wrong way on other issues, and drawing wrong conclusions from that. Anti-capitalists will focus on the free-beer aspect, while journalists and publishers think it impossible to distribute anything with a free license.

The free software community has some experience with non-technical aspects, like publishing. I agree that we must make more experience and connections to non-technical groups. But it will be much more diverse and difficult to lead. I hope someone who can lead such a discussion will be found, and I would enjoy to follow it and learn from it to see where we can do better in communicating our philosophy to non-geeks.

Maybe we should start to make a list of sites which focus on those connections? I think there already are some (although not many), I recollect seeing some before.


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[new] please, not a 23 yr. old (#2)
by coriordan (#377) () on Mon Aug 19th, 2002 at 18:57:01 GMT
(User Info) http://www.compsoc.com/~coriordan/

I don't believe software freedoms needs a new leader,
it could do with some _additional_ active speakers.

Also I disagree that this new hotshot should be a 23
year old. IIRC Stallman was close to 30 when he
started the FSF. Stallman is brilliant, in part,
because he has experience and we know he won't change
his views any time soon.

I believe that speakers should be chosen from within
the ranks of existing Free Software developers and
given the oppertunity, like lessig was, to speak and
take a verbal leadership role.

It takes me a long time to trust people in this
community, upstarts don't instantly get respect.

just my thoughts.

P.s. I'm not yet 23 myself, just incase folk think
I'm being condesending.

[ Reply to This ]

[new] Well ... (#6)
by lupo (#48) () on Sat Aug 24th, 2002 at 15:06:11 GMT
(User Info) http://sledge.bnv-bamberg.de

I think you just cannot go out and say, hey dude, wanna be our new leader? There are already numerous people who are very engaged in that field. Some of them might take the job "by accident". So no need for a search.

[ Reply to This ]

[new] Lessig (#7)
by alex (#9) on Mon Aug 26th, 2002 at 19:54:00 GMT
(User Info) http://www.alexhudson.com/

Having read that, the man is obviously a discordian :-) Perhaps for balance, we require five speakers, all of 23 years age.

That said, youth is required for something - gaining experence. RMS is only the speaker he is today because of his experience of speaking. Similarly, people need to start speaking today for them to be good speakers tomorrow.

Those of us who are British will know what I mean when I say "William Hague".

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Wired on the Free Software Dinner | 7 comments (7 topical, editorial) | Post A Comment
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