Subject: Re: Bruce Perens rejected from license-proliferation committee.
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 22 Aug 2005 10:08:55 -0700

Russell Nelson <> writes:

> Ian Lance Taylor writes:
>  > >
>  > 
>  > This seems to miss the point.
> You didn't read it, did you?

In fact I read it a long time ago, when I was young and stupid.  I
thought the premises were wrong--or at best incomplete--and the
conclusions were wrong.  I just skimmed it again, and I still feel the
same way.  This is clearly not the place for a discussion of those
ideas, but my thoughts on a set of closely related ideas is here:

>  > The OSI is not the law.
> No, but in a sense we are.

No, in no sense whatsoever is the OSI the law.

>  > Several years ago I agitated strongly about the lack of any semblance
>  > of democracy or transparency in the OSI.
> You still didn't read it, did you?  How we do things is immaterial.
> What we do is the only thing that matters.  When you eat in a
> restaurant, you don't get to vote for the cook.  You voted when you
> walked into the restaurant.  People selected OSI because we matter.

There might be something to that argument if we were in a blissful
state of perfect information.  In the real world, in which 99.9999% of
the people on the planet know nothing about the OSI or how it was
created or composed, people will read the claims on the OSI web site,
or the statements by the OSI board members, and believe that the OSI
actually does speak for the open source community.  It will take those
people a lot more digging to understand that there is no real feedback
mechanism from the community to the OSI.  That, in fact, the claims on
the OSI web site are at least partial misrepresentations.

I agree that over time these misrepresentations would be corrected.
But that is a process of years.  And, for the community, is a
pointless process.  Why shouldn't the OSI seek to be more open to the
community which it claims to represent?

Besides, restaurants are a lousy analogy, since there are many
restaurants, but only one OSI.

>  > Personally I think the OSI should drop any claims about representing
>  > the community,
> We represent everyone who uses the term "Open Source", which is, well,
> just about everybody.  They walked into our restaurant.

Or they just didn't know any better, and they didn't have any

>  > (Full disclosure: I also applied to be on the license-proliferation
>  > committee.
> You and that army.  When Martin Fink and I sat down in February to
> discuss the structure of the solution, he and I were firm in the
> belief that the committee should be strictly limited in membership.  I
> haven't changed my mind in that regard.  If Martin has, I might be led
> to change mine.  Maybe you should ask him?

No, as I said, I'm satisfied with the composition of the committee.

>  > to understand that most people who care seriously about OSI
>  > pronouncements don't really understand how the open source world
>  > really works in practice, or are just free software wonks like me.
> So ... who voted for RMS or Eben?  You're simply confused, Ian.  The
> free software world is a meritocracy, not a democracy.  It doesn't
> mean, however, that everyone with merit gets to serve.  Certainly you
> and Bruce have merit.  What it means is that the people who serve have
> merit.  Google for Rishab, or Joi.  We have a damn fine board here,
> and I'm proud to serve with them.

Nobody voted for RMS or Eben.  But that's OK, because they don't claim
to represent anybody except themselves.  Plus the more than 1000
associate members of the FSF, who actually gave money to be members.

Do you really not see the difference between the FSF, which is
"dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy,
modify, and redistribute computer programs," and the OSI, which is
"dedicated to managing and promoting the Open Source Definition for
the good of the community?"