Preface: Novell’s Waltham headquarters may be located near the FSF’s, but their goals are polar opposites
AS WE HAVE shown before, the FSF’s latest campaign has been a smashing success [1, 2, 3] because it led to positive exposure. Ignoring the Microsoft crowd which tries to portray opposition to it as "terroristic", there is plenty of educational coverage out there. Here, for instance, is the Boston press covering the issues raised by the FSF:
Holmes Wilson, Campaigns Manager for the FSF, expounded on the chilling effect of proprietary software on education. “The fundamental role of schools is to encourage a level of curiosity and inquisitiveness and exploration in students that cultivates an engagement with the world, and with ideas. When you’re using computers in the classroom that are running proprietary software, there’s this barrier there that prevents students from understanding the machine they’re using. It is a real, in some ways, an affront, to the natural inquisitiveness of any student. If somebody gets into computers, but then they can’t dig into the computer that they’re actually using there in the classroom, that’s stifling a level of… That’s stifling a desire to learn, that really, schools should be encouraging.”
The Free Software Foundation has described the One Laptop per Child Project as one that will only help to “turn millions of children into Microsoft dependents.”
It said, due to this dramatic change of policy, many FOSS volunteers quit in disgust.
“But Negroponte, desiring the financial support of Bill Gates and Microsoft, ignored them and proceeded with his decision. As a result, it is expected that the main effect of the OLPC project – if it succeeds – will be to turn millions of children into Microsoft dependents.
“That is a negative effect, to the point where the world would be better off if the OLPC project had never existed. The project tragically became yet another example of Microsoft exerting its control to ends harmful to society’s freedom,” the FSF said.
With phrases like “Nutty”, or “doesn’t have much chance of succeeding”, even calling them extortionists, it’s clear why you wrote this and to which audience. But since this was written in a gently concealed adversarial fashion, I allow my reply to be much the same. Your blog entry is not about the activities of the FSF in Boston, but really is about your shallow opinions, spin, and little else.
We previously explained how those who had been attacking the FSF were all the usual suspects who have always bashed the FSF and/or its cause anyway. In other words, they are dyed-in-the-wool characters who were unlikely to be persuaded by any such campaign and were therefore not the target audience in the first place. Money-driven publications tend to be hostile towards ethics and correction of unethical things; it is seen as adversarial. Many people fell into the trap set up by pro-Microsoft folks (Preston Gralla for example) who tried to use Apple as a weapon against the FSF’s argument. This issue has already been addressed and Bradley Kuhn from the SFLC writes: “FSF did some anti-Apple campaigns too. Personally I worry more about Apple because they have user loyalty; Microsoft doesn’t”
People who say that the FSF only targets Microsoft are simply not paying any attention. The FSF is focused on behaviour, not on companies.
More FSF bashing came from Neowin which, as we’ve shown before, is a Microsoft-oriented site staffed by Microsoft partners. The following new post addresses these criticisms and calls Neowin “The Bubble: Microsoft Social Land.”
Now the neowin news site does seem to be a bubble of Microsoft lovers. fanatics that seem to put all rational discourse to one side while they savage the “opponent”. Their main argument seems to be “Well if you can serve me with the exact this I want, then I’ll be your friend”
In conclusion, it is immensely important to know the messengers (their historical record) when assessing feedback to the FSF’s campaign. The Microsoft ecosystem most certainty was not the target audience of the FSF. █
“Today many people are switching to free software for purely practical reasons. That is good, as far as it goes, but that isn’t all we need to do! Attracting users to free software is not the whole job, just the first step.”