everything wrong with free software

 "obedience breeds foolishness"

### Herding "Teams", Shovelling Crap as edited by Thomas Grzybowski other pages: [[herding-teams]] (original version of this article) | *originally posted:* jan 2021 One might think the 35th anniversary is a great time for the FSF to focus on its history. However, there is also a problem: the people in charge of reviewing and retelling FSF history are also reframing it. Every time you retell a story is an opportunity to focus on one set of aspects and downplay or ignore others. If this is done in order to explore or amplify different notes in good faith, that would be great - but when it is done in the context of having ousted the Founder, Richard Stallman in 2019, and then Alexandre Oliva very recently, the FSF marketing machine can be heard playing sounds that are beating off key. Now before we can talk about what is wrong with the FSF newfound emphasis on "teams" (not "microsoft teams", FSF teams) it’s important to give some examples from FSF "social marketing":     [lit]From the fall/winter FSF Bulletin (https://u.fsf.org/37z): a report from the hard-working FSF tech team: https://u.fsf.org/389[lit]     "As part of our 35th anniversary celebration, we’re revisiting important moments in the history of each FSF team. In today’s blog, read some great stories about our licensing team, *the guardians of the #GPL!"* Wow. See here the FSF pivot from advocacy to marketing? It wouldn’t be so insidious if the shift didn’t include the shifting of FSF core values, the values that have made the movement what it is. The FSF here is at odds with some of its most important ideological guardians, which makes its efforts something of a farce. I do not want to say that the licensing functions of the FSF aren’t a key part of what the FSF does-- but the broader "marketing campaign" itself is a travesty. So, what is the big deal about "teams"? Well, I believe the FSF is shifting its message towards the idea of "teams" as a means to downplay the importance (and the legitimacy) of individual contributions. When people INSIDE the FSF have attacked some of their own founding and other very important individuals, this "team" propaganda is used to support the notion that when you are part of a *team*, you have to /behave as a team/ – which can then by inference amount to: "/do as you are told/". This is a shift towards a more hierarchical corporate model – and is in line with that of "Open Source". Teams are very important in the Open Source arena so that the members work together, together with the corporate sponsors. If the FSF was truly and authentically interested in "teams" for the creation and maintenance of Free Software, they would place emphasis on getting /actual users as leaders/ (not corporate payees) on the teams. Of course there is a place for teams-- teams can do more than an individual, and nobody is saying that teams are a bad thing, only that the motivation of the FSF in /stressing/ "teams" is organizationally manipulative and inherently dishonest in relation to their founding principles Good lies are best-based upon otherwise good ideas, with kernels of truth. "Teams" are not bad, but one can in practice use this notion to downplay the importance of the individual contributor, and even enforce how they should not be taken seriously when out of sync with the "team". And all of this is not really a stretch of the imagination - when it is seen how the FSF is picking-off its most valuable people. It is a hallmark of propaganda to conflate something most people like and want (such as "teamwork") with something else they want people to support, such as witch hunts and co-opting. When some individual disagrees with what is taking place in an organization, the first internal response is for other members of that organization to look for a way to get most members to regard the dissident as being totally against the "initiative", and seen as unreasonable complainers and trouble-makers. The great thing about the notion of "teamwork" is that it is very direct in its application: anyone causing any unwanted discussion is simply not a "team player". Again, we see this in business like /all the time/. And it works for them, right? Not coincidentally, "Open Source" has for decades proclaimed that they make better teamwork possible, when really what they have made possible was to make it easier for corporate sponsors to take over management. When the new FSF president, Knauth came on board, I thought this was a ridiculous statement: [lit]https://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/statement-from-fsfs-new-president-geoffrey-knauth[lit]     "To be honest, at the time my first thought was, 'What a noble idea, *but one person cannot do all this*.'" But, as far as I know, GNU was never intended to be a "one person" job-- free software is collaborative *by design*. So nearly from the Day One when Knauth started, history was being rewritten on the new theme. GNU always had an open invitation to join in. But now there is this bizarre idea that corporate methodologies and Sponsors have invented - and are the stewards - of true collaboration, even though this ideal is already inherently built into Stallman’s work. The "new initiative" is a co-opting of the original message for an entirely different purpose - and historically, this is exactly what you see when you let sponsors and marketing firms take over a grassroots movement. The downplaying of Richard Stallman is a subtle form of discrediting him - along with the burying of his message. When the FSF says "it" started in 1985, my initial reaction was a projection of my own hopes: "Good, for too long now Open Source has implied that all this started in the late 90s, with 'Linux'." But people need to be concerned about the new cartoon stallman: Since being canceled, Richard Stallman (the Founder of the movement, not to mention the GNU project and the FSF itself) has not been able to say much at all about a number of important free software topics. Instead, we now have a puppet cartoon doing the talking for the "team" - and indirectly, for the Sponsors. Knauth has been quoted as saying:     "*It is you who are important, it is you who joined the effort to help the world see the virtues of free software, the dedication of its thousands of contributors and volunteers*, the high quality of free software used every day around the world, and its sheer endurance and ability to find itself in widespread use even by those who were once fierce opponents to free software." But to me, this is just spin. The FSF is stressing that they care about YOU, but they do not hear you and will not hear you. They will admit that it all started with Richard Stallman, but what they are really saying, by their actions, is "where it goes next is up to us (not you)". The truth is: you don’t matter to the FSF, we don’t matter to the FSF, and even Richard Stallman no longer matters to the FSF. This is true - or they would let the actual person speak for himself instead of creating a 2D puppet-cartoon which they can use for "agreement" with their changes. But you know who does matter? Their Sponsors. What the FSF is doing now is *not* advocacy, it is hype, marketing, and the rewriting of history. These features have all the marks of Open Source-- not of Free Software. Even their videos have gotten so cheesy that its almost like they are trying to straw-man the Free Software movement itself. But marketers don’t care about *any* of that-- they want engagement, they want to push a product, whether that product is membership in an organization which is less and less about real advocacy and grassroots activism each year, or whether it’s about useless stuff advertised on television, marketing works the same way. Products, generally speaking, are not "advocated" for-- they are SOLD, and if you are sold on integrity, on frankness, about real problems rather than spin, and on real solutions, great. But the hype is flashier and gets more attention, while the new FSF continues to grow more hollow. If you want the real Stallman, he is solid, three-dimensional, and remains in exile. "This is not what the end of a coup looks like, coups make leaders disappear. Stallman is still here with us..." [lit]*knock knock*[lit] - /Nope, just cardboard/. Stallman wrote a song for the movement years ago, which literally starts with the words "Join Us Now". So, how do you even get to the idea that "one person cannot do all this", starting from that? The new FSF meme is an absolute straw man-- excuse me, I mean /cartoon/ man. back: [[herding-teams]] home: [lit]https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org[lit]