Subject: Re: Do We Need a New Evangelist
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 1 Apr 1999 17:30:54 -0500

   Date: 1 Apr 1999 21:49:00 -0000
   From: Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>

   Ben Laurie writes:
    > >  > Russell Nelson wrote:
    > >  > > If you're supposed to be following us, then yes, we're not very
    > >  > > democratic.  If we're supposed to be in front of where y'all are
    > >  > > going, then representation doesn't matter much.  Our skill at being in
    > >  > > front of where you're going is all that matters.  If we're just
    > >  > > providing a certification service, and you don't like it, then the
    > >  > > proper response is to not use it.

    > It's absurd to suggest that if I don't like what I see, ignoring it is
    > the correct response.

   It depends on the venue.  If it's a political one, then yes, you're
   right, because you'll be forced to accept the majority opinion.  Given 
   the presence of two anarchists on the OSI board, I SERIOUSLY doubt
   that OSI would ever pursue a political final solution.

   If it's a free market (and I hope you agree that everyone is free to
   seek or avoid Open Source certification for their license), then you
   can trust that someone will come up with an alternative, if enough
   people share your opinion of OSI.

I'm not comfortable with these assumptions.

If I think that some sort of free software branding scheme is
desirable, then it seems natural to prefer that there be only one.  If
there are several, then people have to examine each one to understand
it, and that misses the whole point of having a branding scheme in the
first place.  We might as well go back to just looking at the
licenses.

Therefore, since there already is a branding scheme, my first choice
would be to influence that one.  Only if that fails would I consider
starting another one, and I would be aware that starting another one
would be a heavy cost to the community as a whole.

Unfortunately, since as far as I am aware the OSI does not act in a
particularly public fashion, the OSI is hard to influence.  For
example, judging by the web site, there is no mailing list I can join
to see what the OSI is considering next.

So, the OSI appears to be a relatively small group of self appointed
people, who deliberate in secret, and have no documented way to
replace members.  Yet they claim to act for good of the community, and
Eric Raymond, the president, refers to himself as ``public advocate
for the hacker tribe.''  And, in fact, people outside the community
appear to accept these claims to one degree or another.

I've known most of the people on the OSI board for some time
electronically, and I think they're good people.  But I don't think
they speak for me, and I don't think they speak for the community.

Let me put it another way.

The activities of the OSI are not technical.  They are political.

When addressing technical issues, it is often appropriate for a small
meritocracy to get together and determine the best solution in
private, without interference.

When addressing political issues, an open debate is best.  Sometimes,
in extreme cases, it is even appropriate to use democracy.  Yes, these
approaches are harder, time consuming, and even painful.  But it is
the only way to truly speak and act for the community.

Ian