Subject: Re: open source definition
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <>
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 18:29:25 -0400

> Teaching people to do good things, e.g. what most religions,
> ethics courses, and so on, do, is *not* "deliberately undermining
> their attempts to make a competent assessment of value in the
> process".

Observation: the difference between "teaching morals" and
"brainwashing" is both context- and perspective- dependent.  I prefer
to deal in ethics, which is predicated on questions rather than on
beliefs.  Whether free software is a sound value is very much a matter
of opinion at this point.  I do think that the experiment to discover
this is worthwhile.

My observation of a limited sample of free software advocacy
discussions (four to five hundred or so) is that I do not often see
free software advocates encouraging their students to question the
value proposition that free software entails.  On the contrary, the
key to the presentation usually seems to be questioning everyone
else's values, but not the free software values.

This is hardly unique to the topic of free software.

> Why is it that anti-free-software zealots seem to inevitably end
> up claiming those of us who support the free-software model
> necessarily are akin to cults hypnotizing hordes of naive masses?

Perhaps because the parallels are so obvious.  

Like cults, some highly visible members of the free software community
are trying to convince people to subordinate their rights and values
to those of a specialized community.  

Like cults, those visible leaders often seem to benefit financially or
personally from that subordination.  

Like cults, the larger world finds these values slightly daft. 

Like cults, the free softwareists tend to assert that actually it is
the larger world that is daft.

As to being an anti-zealot, I've consistently maintained in this
discussion that for somethings the Open Source model works and is
appropriate.  I've held that position for over a decade now.

> But as long as people are willing to shell out $$$ for individual
> copies of software without source...

If I didn't agree that source was important, I wouldn't be putting
forward an alternative position here.

> I guess this missive makes me another cult leader, eh?  :)

Does the shoe fit?