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Well, it's only natural...

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 7:39 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
In reply to: 25 years of making people who agree with you cringe by madhatter
Parent article: How not to recognize free hardware

I found it slightly amusing that in criticising this as "what level of crazy", you point to a reference that I can only access with Adobe flash installed.

Why it's amusing? It's sad - but it shows the point beautifully. People want to see Flash-sites. That's just fact of life. Small percent of them (odd million or so) want to have free hardware too (I do). Yes, there are few guys who refuse to use Flash and want only free hardware (like RMS and you, I guess) - but there are too few of them to actually sway the manufacturers in any direction. If the choice is to attach "Supports Adobe Flash" label xor "Respects Your Freedom" label the first one will win nine times out of ten and perhaps even ten times out of ten.

All those end-users who "just want things to work", and click through unacceptable end-user licences they don't even read in order to make them work, are causing those of us who want to be free significant problems.

Yes, but don't forget that they pay for the development of all these gadgets too.

Most of the pressure on producers to do things properly goes away, as only the two or three weirdoes at the back (which includes me) are left objecting.

Sure, but the way to change the situation is not to blindly press ahead. If you want to be heard you need a coalition with some of your opponents who support at least part of your agenda - otherwise manufacturers will just ignore you and your campaign... and will be right.

The goal of manufacturers is to produce profit and "three weirdoes at the back" are not big enough market to think about it.


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Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 8:24 UTC (Thu) by madhatter (subscriber, #4665) [Link]

>> All those end-users who "just want things to work", and click through
>> unacceptable end-user licences they don't even read in order to make
>> them work, are causing those of us who want to be free significant
>> problems.
>
> Yes, but don't forget that they pay for the development of all these
> gadgets too.

And what use is that to me, if I want to be free rather than cool? I'm not saying the gadgets aren't nice, nor that they don't do useful things for those happy to use them; but since I won't use them, their existence is unlikely to persuade me that something useful is coming out of that community and their purchasing habits.

> If you want to be heard you need a coalition with some of your opponent
> who support at least part of your agenda

I don't want this to become political, but - if you know anything about UK politics - consider the coalition government we currently have here. The Liberal Democrats did exactly what you suggest - joined a coalition with a larger opponent in order to be heard on their common ground - and many commentators[1] are now suggesting that they'll take a lot of damage at the next general election for it. If this happens, I'd argue that it's because the price they paid to join the coalition involved the sacrifice of some fundamental principles, which their supporters will not quickly forgive. You're right about fringe minorities being difficult to hear, but if they get in bed with larger groups who are antithetical to some of their core values just to share the platform, it can go badly wrong for the smaller partner.

[1] eg http://chinamieville.net/post/1361955242/letter-to-a-prog..., but there are many other examples.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 11:35 UTC (Thu) by rsidd (subscriber, #2582) [Link]

And what use is that to me, if I want to be free rather than cool?

You'll get your free gadget eventually. These things usually work by evolution. Remember the web video scene a few years ago? Different sites used RealMedia, Quicktime, Windows Media -- each of which had its own plugin, none of which worked on linux. Now they all use flash, which works on linux, and a lot of them even work with free implementations like gnash. It is definitely progress.

Further progress will come through HTML5, and again that is already available on many sites. The problem is patent-encumbered codecs. We are far from being completely free but we are closer than we would have been if we had simply dug in our heels and said "we're not watching any content that requires a non-free player."

The idea of open standards has taken root and hardware devices are already much "freer" than they were just a few years ago. USB devices (storage, cameras, video, and much else) that conform to standards can just be plugged into a linux computer and work. It's getting better, and it's not thanks to the FSF: it's thanks to the fact that there is now a significant number of OS's out there (several versions of Windows and Mac, non-negligible numbers of Linux) and manufacturers have realised the value of not having to bundle drivers separately for all these systems. We gain by popularising free systems and we don't popularise them by insisting on an "all-or-nothing" approach to ideological purity.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 22, 2010 8:29 UTC (Fri) by pauly (subscriber, #8132) [Link]

> It's getting better, and it's not thanks to the FSF:
Well, in part it is. Not particularly to the FSF, but rather thanks
to GPL. The ultimate non-free device for me is now the iPhone:
A beautiful device on top of any usability score list, with a
powerful unix-like OS at its heart. But the BSD licence allows
Apple to get every profit from the (originally open) code, at the
same time putting users into a (albeit golden) cage.
The fact that the GPL is very clear about derived work has hugely
helped to push evolution into the right direction.
My impression is: Most manufacturers simply don't care mouch about
openness or closedness, as long as they can use code to speed up
development significantly. If they have to release source code then
-- what the heck. This part of how the Linux explosion has worked.

GPL is hack - that's why it works...

Posted Oct 22, 2010 15:01 UTC (Fri) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Most manufacturers simply don't care mouch about openness or closedness, as long as they can use code to speed up development significantly. If they have to release source code then -- what the heck. This part of how the Linux explosion has worked.

Yup. People are irrational. They behave like monkeys.

When you present carrot (high-quality code, free advertisement, etc) first and then show the stick (demand payment in form of freedom) later - they will often accept the bargain because, let's be frank, most manufacturers are not evil and lock-down the devices to simplify their own life, not to rob user of the freedom.

When you present stick first and then your demands look truly onerous (why do you want to decide if I will offer support for Windows or not?) then you'll need much bigger carrot to overcome the first impression.

In a sense FSF campaigns are designed to fail because they assume that people are rational - and in the end most of them end up a failure. Some few of them succeed because someone else presents the same idea in a sane way - but is it really a good way forward? I think "The perfect is the enemy of the good" dogma applies to FSF 9 times out of 10 (if not 10 times out of 10).

The infamous example of this problem is the Nopedia vs the Wikipedia. It took three years to create 24 high-quality articles using experts and thorough per-review process (and some 74 articles were in the works when Nupedia was closed down). Wikipedia got more articles in few days after launch! And in one year it had more very high-quality articles then Nupedia got in three years! Sure, most articles on Wikipedia were (and are) complete rubbish, but... the topics covered by other encyclopedias are great in Wikipedia - and "rubbish" topics cover things which will never be even mentioned in Britannica!

Does it mean experts and per-review are irrelevant? Sure as hell no - but by themselves they are not numerous enough to move "free world encyclopedia" idea forward. And the same is true for the people who care enough about freedom to accept onerous FSF's requirements related to this mark...

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 19:20 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

the thing is that the hardware in question _is_ open, you can put whatever you want on it.

however, the FSF doesn't want to say that the hardware is open if the vendor offers closed software on it.

I would love it if all the hardware that has closed software pre-installed on it was also open and I could put my software on it instead.

saying that hardware isn't open enough if it is offered with the option of closed software means that you drive manufacturers into an either-or situation. they can either support the closed software that most of their customers want, or they can have 'open hardware' (even though the hardware doesn't change). there is no company out there that will willingly eliminate all sales for people who want to use closed software to support the people who want nothing but free software.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 9:02 UTC (Thu) by lbt (subscriber, #29672) [Link]

> People want to see Flash-sites. That's just fact of life.

No, they really don't.

What they really, really want is to see the cute kittens and puppies ^H^H^H^H^^H content on the flash sites.

Flash [being closed] simply makes/made it an order of magnitude harder for free solutions to be built up to allow ordinary users to create (and see) that content.

Imagine how the explosion of geocites or any of the simple "html page" sites would have fared if HTML _needed_ an $x00 package from Adobe to create them?

OTOH the FSF have again lead the way... now we just need a less extreme organisation (like the LF?) to introduce a similar but realistic and viable mark - because whilst the FSF may be leading the way they are failing woefully at delivering.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 21:28 UTC (Thu) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

One of the rules of leading is to look back once in a while to make sure you still have followers. The few who follow this eye-rolling exercise will not be enough to induce ANY manufacturers to also follow.


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