[sf-lug] Software Freedom Day in general (was: mastering CDs in bulk for Software Freedom Day)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Aug 31 01:26:30 PDT 2009

Upthread comment that started this discussion:

> Software Freedom Day is coming up fast. http://softwarefreedomday.org/

OK, here's an effort -- at which I may not succeed, but I'll try -- to
articulate why Software Freedom Day ("SFD") typifies a _sort_ of event
I've learned to classify as "best ignored".  Please note that I see this
problem as entirely separate from, and in addition to, the problem of
SFD's principal aims (getting people to propagate discs of MS-Windows
software) being, in my opinion, badly conceived and a poor use of time
and money.

Here's how to construct an major event according to the usual geek
thinking patterns:  1. Have an idea about what you think other people
ought to do.  2. Create a Web site declaring "[foo] Day", and fill it
with text exhorting people to do what you think ought to be done on that
day.  3.  Provide no organisation worthy of the name except a vague
concept of "teams" (to be provided entirely by others); no funds; no
resources that don't already exist; no guidelines for press relations
that aren't utter, totally ignorant rubbish.  4. Sit on your ass.  (5.
Profit!  Just kidding.)

SFD is an absolutely classic example.  As noted previously,  consultant
Matt Oquist got together with UK OpenDisc (Windows apps CD) guy Phil
Harper, created a Web site, and declared a "day".  Functionally, it's
been mostly about getting other people to distribute copies of Phil
Harper's OpenDisc and its derivative OpenEducation Disc, mostly at those
other people's expense -- although Canonical's been mailing out bulk
sets of rather sadly obsolete inventory of Ubuntu 8.04.1 CDs (possibly
also later ones, but the Web site doesn't say so), and a half-dozen
other sponsors have thrown in t-shirts, balloons, stickers, buttons, a
couple of computers, and so on.

Lather, rinse, repeat:  Happens again every year.  They put stuff up on
the Web site, and various disconnected others elsewhere in the world are
expected to do the actual work.  Just follow the franchise!  Why, you
might even get prizes if your "team" is judged to be particularly good.

Do they have any meaningful advice to give about how to deal with the
press and run local events in general?  Reading
http://softwarefreedomday.org/StartGuide suggests the answer is "Nope,
not a bit".  No focus, no insights, no practical tips and example
machine setups, just generic artwork and "marketing materials"
(by other people entirely), and boundless if by-the-numbers enthusiasm.

As with other obnoxious memetic infections (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme), 
if you ignore it, you get your time back.  And then you can do something 
actually worthwhile and properly planned out, if you wish.

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