Skip to main content
Welcome guest. | Register | Login | Post

a few suggestions to the ggl.o texts

10 replies [Last post]
Offline
Joined: 2007-02-10

here are a few notes / suggestions on certain parts of the ggl.o text which i noticed while translating:

- on the page with the "car analogy", i think it would be worth pointing out that *it is perfectly legal to sell a free car*. a misconception that many people have is that they think "free software" is always non-commercial, i.e. that the GPL prevents you from using it commercially. it is amazing how many people still believe this today. i have even met people who thought that GPL software cannot be used in a corporate environment!

- on the same page, you could illustrate the business model of (some) FOSS companys like so: "many companys produce free cars, which they give away at no cost and free to share, use and distribute for everyone. the way these companies make revenue is by making their car popular, and then selling service and support for it. should you wish, you can bring them your free car and they will fix the tires or replace your engine for a charge. You can of course still fix it by yourself if you want."

- on the "What about choice" Page, I think that the "monopolist practices" could be very easily and effectively illustrated by giving examples of some of the "dubious" practices which MS is known for. I'm thinking of the "near-slanderous" GET THE FACTS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Get_the_facts) campaign and other such "studies", which MS paid and which - surprise! - came to the more than dubious conclusion that Windows is cheaper/better/more secure than Linux.

- I think the case for ODF could be made stronger (also on the "What about choice" page). right now, the text only says that MS prefers closed formats, but it does not say a) that this is a deliberate strategy to bind users to their own products, *actively fighting* interoperability ("they want you not to be able to share your documents with your friends") b) that ODF is an ISO Standard now, which has very broad support from manufacturers of Office Software *except from MS* c) that MS effectively abuses its OS- and Office-monopol to fight open standards and trick people into falling into their proprietary "traps".

- Maybe it could be worthwile illustrating the power MS has over PC manufacturers by pointing out the "[vendor X] recommends MS Windows" slogan, which you can see on almost every manufacturer homepage these days. (example: http://www.lenovo.com/products/us/en/ ). It is obvious that MS is spending a lot of money on this (and, consequently, on the manufacturers not pre-installing non-MS OSes!)

- Something that bothered me a bit was that there was no mention of other free OSes. It sounds kind of like Linux is the only Opensource OS around - but let's not forget there is opensolaris, the BSDs and lots of other free and open stuff (Linux Coders keep forgetting this too Smiling.

- On the "stand for a free society" page, I have a problem with the "food" analogy, which is not very wisely chosen IMHO. it's true that the producers need to list the ingredients of the food on the packet. but the actual recipe of most food is actually highly secret. In fact, the recipe for "CocaCola" is maybe the most well-guarded trade secret of all times! The CocaCola company would never open up the recipe. A better analogy might be the covering of music songs - people have been resusing each others tunes freely for ages, and it does nor hurt anyone. in fact, if your song is covered by someone else, this may even turn out to be profitable for you as an artist, because this stirs additional interest in your original work.

- On the "freedom explained" page, it might be worth giving the analogy of a lock (section "fixing or guarding the flaws"): "As an analogy, a lock which people are allowed to study before they secure their door with it will not be less secure than a "sealed" one. In fact, allowing people to look at the way the lock works offers not only the benefit of finding flaws quicker (because more eyes will be scanning the inner workings of the lock for flaws) but also of letting you *make sure that it is working correctly and providing the level of security you want* prior to using it.

ok, nuff for today. rest assured, though, that my comments here are just nitpicking, and that the majority of the texts are absolutely fabulous! and please don't hesitate to disagree with my opinions.

~luzi

ariadacapo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-07-13
Thank you for so many good

Thank you for so many good suggestions!

I am simply crushed under work (GGL + outside) so cannot respond immediately. Some of the suggestions are dangerous (anti-MS) and some are really excellent. Some points actually merge into modifications I've had in mind for a while.
I'll be right back. Thanks for the great input.

Olivier.

Offline
Joined: 2007-02-10
i agree with you that going

i agree with you that going too anti-MS could be dangerous...

free-zombie's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-03-08
I believe MS has released

I believe MS has released an ODF plugin by now, actually.

Offline
Joined: 2007-02-10
yeah, I read that, they

yeah, I read that, they even put it on sourceforge:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/odf-converter

something ought to be wrong with it, though, since Sun is making their own version:
http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/84978 (german link - sorry)

my opinion will remain the same, until a) i've seen microsoft's plugin in action, working as expected (allowing to use ODF as default file format, as an example, not just an export format) b) i've seen microsoft ship this plugin by default with office.

ariadacapo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-07-13
I hope we can address your

I hope we can address your points about the free car analogy with this idea of "How to Misunderstand Free Software" article. I think this "car" example is good, but obviously has limits. After a while, the restrictions of the material world are an obstacle to correct understanding. Rather than re-work this example I thought we could be more to the point. These are excellent remarks you make. Let's see if this new article can address all of your points.

About the remarks on Microsoft:
I agree we can go further. But we have to be extremely careful. We risk two things:
1) Attract attention of MS and others, which could maybe turn into hostility, threats, etc
2) (especially) Readers dismiss us all at once with the "oh you just hate Bill Gates" tag. Exactly as if we were Mac fans.
In fact, because of these reasons, I don't like this page "What about choice?" very much. It is also the main obstacle to dismissing Apple together with Microsoft in this Windows section.
So if we are absolutely certain about what we write and it does not turn into an anti-Microsoft outcry, I am open to changing the text. It becomes difficult for me to edit the texts, so if you have specific rephrasings/additions in mind, please bring them forward.

Luzi wrote:

Something that bothered me a bit was that there was no mention of other free OSes. It sounds kind of like Linux is the only Opensource OS around - but let's not forget there is opensolaris, the BSDs and lots of other free and open stuff (Linux Coders keep forgetting this too).

Perfectly right. This should be a FAQ post. I'll open a thread soon about all additional FAQs we need to answer.

Luzi wrote:

On the "stand for a free society" page, I have a problem with the "food" analogy, which is not very wisely chosen IMHO. it's true that the producers need to list the ingredients of the food on the packet. but the actual recipe of most food is actually highly secret. In fact, the recipe for "CocaCola" is maybe the most well-guarded trade secret of all times! The CocaCola company would never open up the recipe. A better analogy might be the covering of music songs - people have been resusing each others tunes freely for ages, and it does nor hurt anyone. in fact, if your song is covered by someone else, this may even turn out to be profitable for you as an artist, because this stirs additional interest in your original work.

I am not exactly sure about the Coca-cola, but I see what you mean. I was simply trying to call this feeling of security that people can have when they know all ingredients have to be on the label.
About the songs, the example is tricky. You cannot in fact publicly modify at will on someone's song without his/her authorisation. She/he might charge you whatever sum they wish if you choose to publish your new version. So we would have to refer to public domain songs (there aren't many, even Happy Birthday is copyrighted!) but this would not be entirely relevant either. The closest equivalent would be music licensed under CC-BY license. Which makes the example pretty long to explain.
In any case we can improve. Richard Stallman often refers to cooking recipies as an analogy. We could maybe build on this?

Offline
Joined: 2006-03-28
Mentioning other OSs is a

Mentioning other OSs is a good thing, but we should also provide information that most of them are not very usable in terms of the pile of packages you can get for them I guess.
Could I compile KDE or run Firefox on Plan9? Is there Apache for EROS? Questions like these are pretty important I guess.

Most free software is written for Linux and/or BSD. These systems are the leading OSs in the free world, with Linux on top, although it's the younger system. Anything else is, in my oppinion (please correct me if I'm wrong), nice to know and to have a quick look at in QEmu, but that's it.

libervisco's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-05-04
I am not sure using music

I am not sure using music as an analogy would be very effective. Unfortunately, there is much the similar battle within the music field to the battle between Free Software and proprietary software. Think of RIAA and their infringement lawsuits and contrast that with the Free Culture community using CC licenses. Many people are still quite successfully led to believe that copying a piece of music is theft (despite the fact that it is not depriving the previous owner of a copy, it is merely duplicating it).

So using music as a parallel to Free Software opens a link to a whole new can of worms.

But I agree a better and more flexible analogy could be found. Cooking recipes seem like a good candidate. But maybe it could also be described without a direct analogy, but only through a simplified language, presenting people with a choice in form of a mild rhetoric question:

"How do you remain in full control over your own computer if you don't have control over software that it runs? If the source code is hidden from you, then you have to trust and depend on the vendor that it works properly? If you are forbidden to share it, even after you payed for it, are you really in control over your property?"

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure about that, but it's a thought.

But when I think about it, cooking recipes might actually be the best. If a cook makes you a pie and yet refuses to tell you how he made it, can you really be sure that what you're eating doesn't contain something that's bad for your health or even malicious? That seems quite simple.

ariadacapo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-07-13
Hmmm I agree but how do we

Hmmm I agree but how do we apply this to the actual text on the website?
When writing the articles I tried to separate things in different steps. The idea of control is in the page "What about source code?" and this features the Stallman quote:

Richard Stallman wrote:

You might say, "How do I change this recipe to take out the salt?" and the great chef would respond, "How dare you insult my recipe, the child of my brain and my palate, by trying to tamper with it? You don't have the judgment to change my recipe and make it work right!"

While the idea of the impact of software on the rest of society is in the page "Stand for a free society", this is where I tried to show that freedom is necessary in several parts of society. More precisely, on food, the article goes:

GGL article wrote:

No chef would ever forbid you to modify his recipe and make derivatives out of it. The food industry thrives despite being required by law to list ingredients on product labels.

and also quotes:

Venkatesh Hariharan wrote:

Though no one has a proprietary lock on yoga, it is still a thriving $30 billion business in the United States.

So maybe we should be more precise on the food example... referring to an example like pizza (no proprietary lock but a best-seller) instead of general "food"? Where precisely do you think we could improve?

---

About Microsoft: so what do we do? Do we include more information about ODF in the "What about choice" page?

---

About other OSSs: reptiler you're right... we are not going to recommend them, simply mention they are here in an FAQ post :-)

libervisco's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-05-04
Olivier wrote:So maybe we
Olivier wrote:

So maybe we should be more precise on the food example... referring to an example like pizza (no proprietary lock but a best-seller) instead of general "food"? Where precisely do you think we could improve?

Pizza example sounds good to me as it really is quite popular and there are a lot of profitable pizzerias everywhere. Though the difference people might point to between food like pizzas and software is that once you make one pizza, and somebody eats it, that one pizza is gone whereas when you make a computer program it is never gone no matter how many people "consume" it.

A way to deal with this could be to point out that it is really the work that people get payed for, not the product of the work. This is the whole point of getting payed. When a pizza chef makes a pizza he gets payed for doing this every time he makes one. When a programmer makes a program, he can be compensated for making this original program by charging for supporting it, distributing it for a price etc (when he is actually doing the work of delivering it to the people), but when those other people then get a copy, they can make more copies and share it without making the original programmer do any additional work. Hence, he doesn't need to have control over it.

And yet, by just working, doing what he does, writing code, he can make money. Custom coding is the most lucrative of software businesses.

Code me a program that does this or that and I'll pay you what you ask. Make me a sweet hot pizza and I'll pay you what you're asking for it. Done.

ariadacapo's picture
Offline
Joined: 2006-07-13
I hope the candidate for

I hope the candidate for the How to Misunderstand Free Software article (see discussion) meets some of the original remarks.

But looking back on this thread, we haven't addressed all points.

  • ariadacapo wrote:

    About Microsoft: so what do we do? Do we include more information about ODF in the "What about choice" page?

  • The pizza example. Where exactly should we fit it?

If you have suggestions please bring them forward ;-) ...
Olivier.

Comment viewing options