[ubuntu-marketing] Global Petition for Free Software

M. Fioretti mfioretti at nexaima.net
Wed Jul 2 10:22:50 BST 2008

On Wed, Jul 02, 2008 04:16:06 AM -0400, Danny Piccirillo wrote:

> One of the biggest challenges with this movement is helping
> non-technical people understand the issue and why it matters.

Danny, and list,

first of all, a general note: this very challenge is my main
interest/area of activity in this period, because I am convinced this
is a critical issue. My own way to face it is in the signature below.

I did this because I am also convinced that the traditional way to
promote FOSS has already reached some built-in limit, as I explained
at http://www.ukuug.org/newsletter/16.3/#help__marco or in the
"Opinions" section at digifreedom.net, and risk becoming less and less
effective every year. Feedback on those thoughts is always welcome!

With respect to your main question:

> This petition at http://devalpatrick.com/issue/freesoftware asks for
> the government of massachusetts to use Free Software exclusively.
> What if there were a website where you could ask that your (federal
> and, if a large country, local) government to adopt free software
> exclusively?

If somebody does this or similar initiatives I will certainly mention
them on digifreedom.net and spread the news as much as I can. This
said, I see a couple of problems, or at least of limits in such an
initiative that it is necessary to mention (constructively, of

- in several countries, demanding that governments "use Free Software
  exclusively" may be counterproductive (much easier to figth with
  some variety of the "it's all a no-global/commie/hippy dream or
  conspiration, just ignore those freaks" FUD, not to mention that
  FOSS alternatives sometimes simply don't exist and should be
  developed from scratch; or just plain conflicting with local
  procurement regulations: limiting bids to specific *products* (and
  this is what using only GPL stuff would _look_ like) is either
  explicitly forbidden or considered against free market
  etc... Whereas demanding that "governments use exclusively non
  proprietary digital standards, file formats, communication
  protocols..." is much easier to promote and defend

- the majority of people we need to reach today to make a critical
  mass are exactly those who don't sign online petitions period
  because don't own a personal computer or use it only as a game
  console or occasional typewriter, so they couldn't care less of
  software licenses (**)

Practical suggestions: if you ever do such a site, don't forget to
provide PDF copies of each form, so people can print, sign and fax or
snail mail them to their representatives (paper weights more than bits
etc... see note below).

		Marco Fioretti

(**) incidentally, this is exactly one of the reasons why I wrote a
book to face this challenge, rather than organizing online petitions
myself: the same words printed on bounded paper, on a real book, make
a much, much deeper effect than if they were read on a PC screen, so
if with that I can get 100 non-geeks to grab a pen and _handwrite_ a
complaint, the impact may be bigger than an avalanche of many more
email messages. Like it or not, one sheet of (signed/bounded) paper
still weights much more than one million bits in our culture.

Your own civil rights and the quality of your life heavily depend on how
software is used *around* you:            http://digifreedom.net/node/84

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