Sabotage and free software

community, freesoftware, General, humour, maemo 4 Comments

Who knew that educating people in simple sabotage (defined as sabotage not requiring in-depth training or materials) could have so much in common with communicating free software values? I read the OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual (pdf) which has been doing the rounds of management and security blogs recently, and one article on “motivating saboteurs” caught my eye enough to share:

Personal Motives

  • The ordinary citizen very probably has no immediate personal motive for committing simple sabotage. Instead, he must be made to anticipate indirect personal gain, such as might come with enemy evacuation or destruction of the ruling gov­ernment group. Gains should be stated as specifically as possible for the area addressed: simple sabotage will hasten the day when Commissioner X and his deputies Y and Z will be thrown out, when particu­larly obnoxious decrees and restrictions will be abolished, when food will arrive, and so on. Abstract verbalizations about personal liberty, freedom of the press, and so on, will not be convincing in most parts of the world. In many areas they will not even be comprehensible.
  • Since the effect of his own acts is limited, the saboteur may become discouraged unless he feels that he is a member of a large, though unseen, group of saboteurs operating against the enemy or the government of his own country and elsewhere. This can be conveyed indirectly: suggestions which he reads and hears can include observations that a particular technique has been successful in this or that district. Even if the technique is not applicable to his surroundings, another’s success will encourage him to attempt similar acts. It also can be conveyed directly: statements praising the effectiveness of simple sabotage can be contrived which will be pub­lished by white radio, freedom stations, and the sub­versive press. Estimates of the proportion of the population engaged in sabotage can be disseminated. Instances of successful sabotage already are being broadcast by white radio and freedom stations, and this should be continued and expanded where com­patible with security.
  • More important than (a) or (b) would be to create a situation in which the citizen-saboteur acquires a sense of responsibility and begins to educate others in simple sabotage.

Now doesn’t that sound familiar? Trying to convince people that free software is good for them because of the freedom doesn’t work directly – you need to tie the values of that freedom to something which is useful to them on a personal level.

“You get security fixes better because people can read the code”, “You have a wide range of support options for Linux because it’s free software and anyone can understand it”, “Sun may have been bought by Oracle, but you can continue to use the same products because anyone can modify the code, so others have taken up the maintenance, support and development burden”, and so on.

Providing (custom tailored) concrete benefits, which comes from freedom is the way to motivate people to value that freedom.

In addition, the point on motivation struck a cord – you need to make people feel like they belong, that their work means something, that they’re not alone and their effort counts, or they will become discouraged. A major job in any project is to make everyone feel like they’re driving towards a goal they have personally bought into.

Finally, you will only have succeeded when you have sufficiently empowered a saboteur to the point where they become an advocate themselves, and start training others in the fine arts – and this is a major challenge for free software projects too, where we often see people with willingness to do stuff, and have some difficulty getting them to the point where they have assimilated the project culture and are recruiting and empowering new contributors.

For those who haven’t read it yet, the document is well worth a look, especially the section on “General Interference with Organisations and Production”, which reads like a litany of common anti-patterns present in most large organisations; and if you never knew how to start a fire in a warehouse using a slow fuse made out of rope and grease, here’s your chance to find out.

Line-up pour Ignite Lyon finalisé

community, francais, freesoftware, home, humour, marketing, running, work No Comments

Je viens de finaliser aujourd’hui les présentateurs pour l’inauguration de Ignite Lyon. Les sujets sont assez diverses, du vache à lait à l’informatique bio en passant par la course à pied et l’art libre. Pour ceux qui sont plus du tendance entrepreneur, nous avons également des présentations sur la démarche commerciale ou créer sa première boîte jeune.

Voici la liste des présentateurs pour ce premier Ignite Lyon en order alphabétique, sauf modifications de dernier minute:

Avec une salle qui prendrai autour de 100 personnes, les places risquent d’être chères, même si l’entrée est libre!

Je vous suggére vivement d’être à votre place dans la salle D101 de l’Université Lyon 2, Quai Claude Bernard, à l’ouverture des portes à 18h30 jeudi prochain le 4. Les festivités commenceront vers 19h, jusqu’à 20h30 à peu près, avec une pause pipi au millieu.

Vous pouvez également vous inscrire pour manger un bout après l’événement au Chevreuil, ou nous allons nous retrouver quor quelques boissons raffraichissantes à partir de 20h30.

Vous pouvez trouver plus d’informations sur le site Ignite Lyon. A la semaine prochaine!

To stir or not to stir?

gnome, humour, libre graphics meeting, maemo, marketing 5 Comments

That is the question…

I am honoured to have become the latest GNOME personality to catch the eye of Sam Varghese.

Sam feels I was unfair in my characterisation of him as a “shock jock”. He may be right… he says himself that the definition of a shock jock is “a slang term used to describe a type of radio broadcaster (sometimes a disc jockey) who attracts attention using humor (sic) that a significant portion of the listening audience may find offensive.” Clearly, since Sam’s not funny, I was unfair. Sorry Sam.

I take issue with Sam’s massive leap (which reminds me of when my maths professors used to say “obviously it follows…” at the end of complicated theorems) when he says that I “have to fight the perception that any of [our] major sponsors is making nice noises to the other camp”.

First, as I have told Sam on numerous occasions when he contacts us for answers to leading questions, we do not think of KDE as “the other camp”. Second, Mark Shuttleworth doesn’t exactly avoid a perception that he’s a fan of KDE. Later in the same article, he says that he thinks that KDE have got a nice rate of development going, and are driving innovation better than GNOME. He’s the first top-paying member of KDE eV, which is roughly the same amount of money annually as Canonical gives to GNOME.

And Mark’s not alone. Nokia are sponsors of both Akademy and GUADEC, as well as investing heavily in both GNOME (through Maemo) and QT (and paying the wages of some KDE developers).

What Sam has trouble understanding is that I have an issue with sloppy journalism. I like the KDE developers, we get on well, and I’ve done a lot of work bridging gaps between projects – whether it be through the organisation of Libre Graphics Meeting or FOSTEL, or my participation in the FLOSS Foundations group, or the numerous conversations I have with KDE board members about any number of subjects (including Akademy & GUADEC colocating).

So when Sam sets me up as a shill, or as someone who has a problem with KDE (or considers them competitors) he’s ignoring a body of evidence that suggests otherwise. But then, with Sam, that’s par for the course.

Brothers separated at birth?

freesoftware, General, humour 10 Comments

I only noticed this after finally meeting him in the flesh at LinuxTag – Aaron Seigo bears an uncanny resemblance to Franck Ribéry, French footballer extraordinaire (except for the scars that Franck got going through a windshield as a kid and the funky hairdo).

The proof?

Aaron Seigo

Aaron Seigo

Franck Ribery

Franck Ribery

Get a First Life and the SecondLife trademarks

humour Comments Off on Get a First Life and the SecondLife trademarks

I am not a Second Life resident, and so far I have not had the inclination to become one. But this message from Linden Labs in response to the very funny parody site Get a First Life brought a big broad smile to my face – and gives me ideas about the ways in which the GNOME Foundation should be handling trademark issues. Talk about turning an opportunity for bad press into good press.

(via Jim Fruchterman of Benetech, one of my heros)

Dirk Hondel on GNOME

gnome, humour 2 Comments

On the occasion of the release of Portland v. 1.0, VNUNet digs up a classic quote:

“The KDE guys desperately wanted to look and feel like Windows, and the other guys desperately wanted to make it as hard to use as possible,” said Dirk Hondel at LinuxWorld in San Francisco in August.


humour 1 Comment

So Jono got shaved at LRL – and now he needs a new hackergochi.

Before the shaving, I was anticipating the event, and with my reknowned GIMP skillz, decided to see what he’d look like afterwards. So now I give you the Jono shaved hackergochi.

Jono shorn

An Australian solution to a global problem

humour 2 Comments

Daggy music is one way to make the hoons leave an area, because they can’t stand the music

Who knew that Barry Manilow could become such a force for public order.