I was wrong about Google and Facebook: there’s nothing wrong with them (so say we all)

ar.al/2019/01/11/i-was-wrong-a

It’s always difficult admitting you’re wrong. But sometimes you have to in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So, today, I admit that I was wrong about Google, Facebook, & surveillance capitalism in general being toxic for our human rights and democracy … it simply cannot be true given how they are endorsed by some of the most well-respected organisations in the world.

@aral I have serious criticisms of Google and Facebook myself. However, I don't agree with your criticism of Conservancy/Copyleft Conf. Conservancy has actually lost a lot of money over the years because it has stuck to its principles when sponsors preferred that it do something different (eg drop copyleft enforcement). That's one reason they started doing community fundraising drives, because they wouldn't have had the money to keep going otherwise *because* they stuck to their principles.

@aral I certainly agree with criticisms of surveillance capitalist organizations. However there is another problem: the commons is frequently exploited by large corporations that take and take and take from FOSS and don't give back.

If a company is willing to give some money to support free software orgs, no strings attached other than their name appearing on the site, I think that's something we should encourage *more* of. Many companies are taking and not giving, and that sucks.

@aral I do agree that much FOSS *software* is working too hard to bend over backwards for proprietary software integration where decentralized tech integration should be preferred and prioritized however.

@cwebber @aral

I have long advocated a middle-ground here:

**Whenever you compromise your values, APOLOGIZE for it**

Instead of insisting on absolute purity, we can accept that real-world trade-offs happen. But don't present it as normal business, ASK to be excused and explain the situation.

In this case, SFC etc. should have some qualifier every place they reference the Google or Microsoft sponsorships. Something like an *acknowledgement* that this is a compromise and link to a statement.

@Shamar @cwebber @aral

They can totally say something like: "We acknowledge that many practices of these companies go against the goals of Copyleft, and we recognize the concerns people have about the conflicts in our accepting their support as sponsors of our conference." and link to a longer statement about why they still felt the compromise was still the right decision.

I'm not asking anyone to deny anything. It's totally feasible to *admit* and *explain* when we make compromises.

@wolftune

if they feel their decision is the right call, why should they have to apologise?
Maybe instead just note that they are happy to compromise on their core issue and thus should not be trusted to defend this core issue?

@Shamar @cwebber @aral

@oshwm @Shamar @cwebber @aral

en.wiktionary.org/wiki/apology

There is *nothing* about apologizing that implies an action is *necessarily* the wrong decision. There are TONS of cases in life in which the right decision involves a compromise *and* an apology, which means an explanation, a justification, and an acknowledgement of the problems and harms the compromise involves.

You have no basis to assume that anyone compromising is "happy" to compromise. That's a condescending way to think.

@wolftune

When you are compromising to such an extent on your Core Issue, your very reason for being then surely you would be better off cancelling the event with as much publicity as possible and stating that you cannot raise the funds to stage the event in an honest way.

@Shamar @cwebber @aral

@Shamar @oshwm @wolftune @cwebber @bob @conservancy Yeah, not going to happen. Richard told me he isn’t going to pull FSF sponsorship from the event or criticise them for it either as he doesn’t want to anger them (Conservancy).

@aral

Mr Stallman doesn't appear to have as strongly held views as he would like everyone to think.

@Shamar @wolftune @cwebber @bob @conservancy

@Shamar

Your description of RMS is quite off by my view (and I've heard him speak multiple times, had several conversations personally and read all his work).

RMS doesn't have the absurd idea that software-freedom should be *exclusive* to programmers or that all people *must* be programmers, but he absolutely wants everyone to have the capacity to use those freedoms if they wish or to find friends or hire programmers etc.

RMS wants freedom for engineers and not all? No, that's plain wrong.

@Shamar Clarification: RMS and I do not hold the same views (I *only* referred earlier to his views). But I believe we share your view that programming *should* be taught far and wide. Free software enables anyone because tweaking an existing program is much more trivial than writing a whole new one.

Check out video at gnu.org/education/ — that is not a perspective of someone who thinks programming is only for some people.

RMS promotes general code literacy; you're attacking a straw RMS.

@Shamar

"Everyone should be able to write software" — not absurd

"Free Software only applies to those able to write software" — wrong

What's absurd is any suggestion that most people be more than novice programmers. A basic functional literacy might make sense. Just like everyone should know how to draw or to sing or to do basic scientific-style critical thinking… but we're still going to have most important programming (and most drawing and most science etc) done by a portion of people.

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@wolftune

I live in a zone of Piedmont (Italy) which has been declared as a patrimony of humanity from UNESCO.

Each hill provides an unique perspective and moving a couple of meters can really change your whole perspective.

From where I look, I see things differently.
We will always have great programmers that everyone want to read and execute on their own hardware, but the difference from an average programmer will be similar to that between a novelist and a secretary: not much.

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