Subject: Re: Bruce Perens rejected from license-proliferation committee.
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 22 Aug 2005 15:09:22 -0700

Russell Nelson <> writes:

> Ian Lance Taylor writes:
>  > It will take those people a lot more digging to understand that
>  > there is no real feedback mechanism from the community to the OSI.
> You realize that I merely have to reply to this email to falsify this
> statement?  It doesn't matter what I say.  I could say "flibberty
> flobberty foo" and I still prove you wrong.
>  > Why shouldn't the OSI seek to be more open to the community which
>  > it claims to represent?
> Yes, we ought to reply to people's email.

Well, no.  E-mail which merely gets a reply is not a feedback
mechanism.  E-mail which can actually cause something to change would
be a feedback mechanism.

> (Ian, thanks for sending these softball objections.  The check is in
> the mail.)

You're welcome.

>  > Besides, restaurants are a lousy analogy, since there are many
>  > restaurants, but only one OSI.
> There's the FSF.  There's OSDL.  There's OMM, AES, and NFLX.  Oh,
> wait, those are stocks that I own, but you know what I mean.

The FSF and the OSDL are, in my eyes, different.

>  > Nobody voted for RMS or Eben.  But that's OK, because they don't claim
>  > to represent anybody except themselves.
> One of the reasons that I stay on the OSI board is that I feel that I
> am the only representative of the individual self-supporting
> developer.  I am representative without anybody having voted for me.
> Why do people put such stock in voting?  Democratic representation is
> no guarantee of quality of governance.

At the very least, democratic representation is a guarantee that if
things go wrong, there is a way to change them.  It's just one way,
it's not the only way.

>  > 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?"
> Not particularly.  There are differences which I refuse to go into,
> but this is an area in which we both claim to be representing the
> interests of people we've never met.

The difference is that the FSF claims to be promoting certain specific
rights.  They will do that for all people, whether or not any given
person cares about those rights.  There are many organizations like
this--e.g., Amnesty International, or the NRA, or the EFF.  These
types of organizations are generally not democratic.

The OSI, on the other hand, claims to be an advocacy organization for
a particular group of people.  There are also many organizations like
this--e.g., a lobbying group for a trade, or a labor union.  What's
unusual about the OSI, compared with other organizations of this type,
is that although they claim to represent our interests, they don't
actually try to find out what we care about.  Most organizations of
this type have elections for representatives, or in some cases they
have regular meeetings in which all the interested parties get
together to agree on agendas and priorities.

To repeat, note that the FSF doesn't claim to represent our interests.
They claim to support certain specific rights that they feel we should
have.  What we care about is not relevant to the FSF; their mission is
defined independently of what we want.  We can support them or not,
but in general it won't change what they do.

(The OSDL, by contrast, is not an advocacy organization at all.)