Movement activism often focuses on economic decisions. Buy this ethically made product; don’t buy that one made by a company that funds terrible things. In free software, we encourage people to boycott (for example) Microsoft, and to instead support companies who sell machines with GNU/Linux.
It’s an intuitive idea that, as individuals wanting to make the world better, we should use our willingness to spend or not spend money to reward those who do right and punish those who do wrong. Throughout history, this has sometimes been effective. But how effective? Can it be dangerous?
There is a danger of reducing activism and social change strategy to these decisions. We see this in the free software movement, when some activist campaigns aimed at persuading people to stop using proprietary software are met with responses like, “If you don’t like Apple products, just don’t buy them. Help make free products that are better than theirs. Why campaign against them?” or “How can you criticize proprietary software but still drive a car that has it?”
As an advocate, have you ever heard these responses, or felt like a hypocrite, or stumbled trying to explain to others why the situation is more complicated than “just don’t buy it”?
How do we form a holistic movement strategy for advancing user freedom that takes consumer activism as far as possible, without overprioritizing it? How does or doesn’t Debian fit into the picture?
I hope those interested in effectively fighting for user freedom will join me as I share thoughts formed from 16 years of experience working on the Free Software Foundation’s advocacy efforts, against the backdrop of some highlights from the history of other social movements.
Debian and the Free Software Foundation, along with its GNU Project, share many goals and ideals. They are two of the most mature and dedicated organizations working in the free software movement. This is an annual opportunity to talk in person about how they can better work together and inspire each other.
FSF members (and potential members) will meet to talk about the FSF’s work, the FSF’s relationship with Debian, and progress of the movement as a whole:
A very brief update by the FSF’s executive director on highlights of the FSF’s work since the last DebConf
Feedback (positive and negative) from members, and a little brainstorming about what the FSF should and shouldn’t be doing
A review of the current relationship between the FSF and Debian
A discussion of areas for collaboration, focused on projects that could be completed or significantly advanced before the next DebConf
Recognizing that we can’t cover everything in 45 minutes, at the beginning, we’ll choose some specific topics to focus on under this general umbrella.
Past sessions at DebConf have led to concrete positive results like collaboration on the hardware database at https://h-node.org/. Let’s have another productive one!
This session will not be recorded, in order to make participants feel more comfortable speaking informally.
A short update from the Debian Keyring maintainers about the current state of the keyring, as well as an opportunity for project members to ask any queries they might have.