[conspire] comp. hardware available from C.E.

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Sep 30 16:18:46 PDT 2004

Quoting bruce coston (jane_ikari at yahoo.com):

> if someone has some space, i have some ability and
> occasional use of car to handle the donation but
> Christain, i phoned him, eventually wants 2 make a
> non-profit out of it. he's smarting from giving some
> people some hardware w linux and they pirated windows
> over it since they couldn't get help so now he wants
> to start with people who know some/more linux/bsd or
> whatever free software/s to avoid that.

Necessary but not sufficient.  ;->

An unpopular truth:  Almost all initiatives through which volunteer
technologists, to date, have attempted to help non-profits have been
total failures by any rational measure.   They fail for lack of buy-in
(the metaphorical variety) by the non-profits' management, and those 
managers using a value system that differs from that of the volunteers.

Technological volunteers, including the volunteer portions of the Linux
and BSD communities, tend to apply the value system of a "gift culture".
That is, things (including information) are valued at what you can use
them for.  The more your work, information, contributions of gear, etc.
helps accomplish, the more valuable it is deemed to have been.

However, most of the world (including managers at non-profits), most of
the time, values pretty much everything at acquisition cost.  The more 
costly and difficult something was to come by, the more valuable it is
assumed (at least initially) to be.

When one of the former crowd gives one of the latter crowd something at
what the latter sees as zero cost, guess what happens?

That valuation problem leads directly to the buy-in problem, thereafter:  
Your gang of computer nerds has worked its asses off assisting a school,
a charity, a foundation, etc. turning scrounged machines into Linux
systems, configured to within an inch of their lives.  You plug them in.
(You've done your best to make everything easy for the people who are
the object of your generosity.)  The non-profit's executive director
smiles, and warmly shakes your hand.  You go home.

The next morning the executive director shakes his head and wonders what
all that was about.  Fortunately, all he had to do was smile and give a
handshake, so it's obviously someone else's problem.  Six months later,
someone else overwrites this thing that nobody seems to be in charge of
with the non-profit's one and only CD of Win98SE.

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