The technology that you do not master, will master you.

Now, where was I before I was so rudely distracted?

Date/Time Permalink: 04/27/07 12:12:31 pm
Category: General

These days off from my site have been a little break for me, while I
contemplate what direction to take next. A long time ago, I said that
technology freedom will prevail, with or without Linux. I've tried to
maintain a kind of Buddhist detachment to Linux. It is inevitable that
Microsoft cannot last forever - no global dictatorship ever does - and
it is also true that if Linux fills its shoes, the power will be more
than it can handle.

I just didn't expect it to happen so fast.

I meditated on this for days, staying up late nights, wondering
whether it's all going so wrong. Then a simple thought occurred to me,
and I haven't worried about it since.

What's this?
http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/?p=1011

This guy is hammering it home: we have to beat Microsoft, and to do
that, we have to become just as evil as Microsoft. Is this what Linux
is? Just one more day-traded stock, trying to back stab the rest of the
market like a couple of Texans vying for control of Ewing oil? Are we
to always treat the public like so many cattle? Forget selling the
merits of Linux, just force it on them like anything else and they'll
use it? And all the comments agreeing. Yeah, stick it to the man!
Greed works for us, too!

And then it occurred to me; this guy doesn't speak for all of big
business, either. There are ethical corporations out there. They still
make money, and they don't have to pimp their daughters to do it. Not
every CEO is inherently evil... and the good CEOs don't even always
finish last.

And what's this?
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/312496_gates20ww.html

Some vigilante geek runs through the crowd at a Microsoft speech in
China last week, waving a sign that says "free software open
source". So that's what Linux is going to be? A bunch of desperate
hippies running around with hand-lettered signs, like those "John
3:16" fanatics at sporting events? I mean, there's the dignified
business person standing on stage, grinning at the crazy fool with the
cardboard sign. Might as well park it in front of the building:
"Flake. Please give whatever you can spare."

Then I remembered that those wackos at sporting events don't speak
for all religion, either. Neither does that jerk with the "God hates
fags" sign at military funerals. The religious members who get the
press are the wild publicity stunt artists. The majority of religious
folk aren't slobbering Neanderthals bent on savagery, but plain,
decent folk who just want to believe in a higher power, live a good
life, and mind their own business.

And then there's these clowns:
http://www.ehomeupgrade.com/entry/2658/see_defective_by

You can almost tell they have a message, in between the ridiculous
fruity costumes and day-glo colors. Damn, they do all that, and go
home mumbling to each other, "Why don't they take us seriously?"
Because when you act like a fringe group, the world treats you like
one, that's why. This isn't what Linux is, either. Linux doesn't need
to dress up in fruit salad barf and jump around in front of a building
like Hare Krishnas in front of an airport shaking people down for loose
change.

And then I remembered that many free and open source advocates wear a
suit and tie and attend board meetings and keep a good haircut and a
clean shave. They have dignity. Goodness knows, when I do my freelance
work, I make sure that every single client knows that I produce every
pixel on a Linux desktop using only FOSS tools. I get comments all the
time: "Wow! I didn't know you could do that on Linux, I thought you
needed (so and so proprietary app)." In my work, I let people see me
not as some clowny show-off, but a respectable and responsible business
person who uses Free Software because it's a smart business move. On
my web-site, yeah, I'm a clowny show-off. Gotta give you readers a
reason to check back and see what's new at the igloo, right?

I almost like this one:
http://opensourcelearning.info/blog/?p=338

I was right with it, all the way down until the last lines: "I will
work on a road map for the Linux Proliferation Agreement in the months
ahead. Who will join me?"

Ah, no. I guess it's going to keep happening - in a community where
everyone has equal rights (check the GPL!), there is no leader, so we
have one person after another jumping up saying "Me! I'll lead, I know
what to do, everybody follow me!" Maybe he does know what to do. But
if it's the right thing to do, then the people will all collectively
have to decide to do it on their own. You can't just rope people in
and drag them along. They have free will - and each of them all have
just as much rights, and strength, as everybody else.

So when we have these characters...

Well, here we go again! Now Linux is also going to have an image of
Amway salesmen and pyramid schemes. Scaring people off. You can hardly
go into a Linux forum without some shmuck rattling a collection can in
your face trying to sell you some goony mission to Mars.

But the thought that's giving me peace, is to remember that Linux was
here 15 years before these dodo birds showed up, and it'll be here
long after they give up and go back to selling time shares in the
swamp or miracle gasoline additives. Linux got where it is today JUST
BY BEING GOOD. These people don't speak for me, or for many of the
other members of the community. And they certainly don't speak for the
people who built Linux.

And hey, folks? Don't let me speak for you, either! Follow your own
path to Linux. That's why it belongs to all of us!

When I started digging into the tux500 scam, I'd thought is was just a
couple of bloggers. I've since run into a marketing firm pushing the
deal, who are figuring to sell a bunch of hobbyist computer geeks a
sticker on a race-car because the geeks, more than any other
demographic, wouldn't know any better. I also discovered that helios
has some kind of authority at LXer, and LXer also has some bird name
of DCParris in charge who seems to be the puppet-master behind the
puppeteers. Got some flack for "sensationalizing" (huh?) my site on
LXer with this story. So fine, I'm blocking LXer from linking via
referrer-checking. We'll see if the flame frequency goes down. I
wonder how much trolling I was unfairly blaming sites like Digg for,
when it was coming from LXer the whole time?

As for my comment policy going forward after tux500, allow me to let
the character O-Ren Ishi from "Kill Bill vol. 1" speak for me:

I encourage you from time to time, and always in a respectful manner,
to question my logic. If you're unconvinced that a particular plan of
action I've decided is the wisest, tell me so, but allow me to
convince you - and I promise you right here and now - no subject will
ever be taboo. Except, of course, the subject that was just under
discussion...

Anyway, time to move forward. Let people believe in the flat-Earth and
fairies if they want to - just don't stick it in my face, is all I
ask.

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