[nSLUG] On Linux & digital rights & freedoms advocacy (avoiding us/them mentality)

Ben Armstrong synergism at gmail.com
Mon Apr 8 19:16:07 ADT 2019

Hi Tony!

On Fri, Apr 5, 2019 at 10:17 PM Tony Rowe <ay986 at chebucto.ns.ca> wrote:
> Pro-social behaviour does not equate with goodness or best behaviour
> necessarily, does it?

No, and regretfully, I furnish myself as an example. I don't think holding up a
member of this list as an example of "what not to do" is not good, not me on
my best behaviour, and not modelling pro-social behaviour either. :/

> On Fri, Apr 05, 2019 at 07:49:10AM -0300, Ben Armstrong wrote:
> > If we want to advocate within the broader communities we are in for
> > more careful attention to and protection of digital rights and
> > freedoms, it would be helpful not betray such attitudes, even when
> > "privately"* discussing it amongst ourselves.
> No.  I believe the realists have a point here: that there comes a time
> when one needs to speak to a policy, to defend it, and be vocal in
> one's disdain (in this case for individuals who choose to use software
> which stands against digital freedoms); who are exercising the freedom
> not to be free at their peril.

Right. There are real dangers here, both in appearing to say "yeah, this
is perfectly OK, go ahead and give Facebook all your data" as a Linux
group (an apparent clash of cultures/values) and in my own personal
defense of why I'm still on the platform. It is not benign. It is not "just
a medium", neutral & equally full of potential for positive & negative use
all depending on how you approach it. And I may be kidding myself in
this latest round of "let's give it another try and see if I can extract more
value from it than it extracts value (and lifeblood) from me" not being a
dangerous game that will end up with me being burned by it.

> To return to Donald's point, I allow a software suite written by L.
> Poettering and cohorts to be installed (by fiat essentially).  It
> resides on my machine like an alien, almost as an operating system
> within an operating system, which sits devil-like between my userspace
> and the kernel.  I do this because it works quite well and because I am
> too lazy to fix something that isn't broken.  But I still think the PR
> (propaganda) of its implementation was awful and I don't mind saying
> so?

OK. I'm not quite on the same terms with systemd, and rather like how
it has made my life as an administrator easier in some ways, but I
get the analogy, at least. :)  And yes, it would be unfair to squelch
criticism & disdain of it, or at least how it came into the world. There
were some really awful things done "for the good of all" while trampling
over a bunch of individuals to get there. It's not a good trend ...

> > Whether this is worth it or not remains to be seen, but I care too
> > much about some of the people with whom social media is my sole point
> > of contact to just drop off of it entirely.
> Your transgressions look better than mine do.  You tolerate non-free
> media because you want to remain in touch with people you care about.
> But if I am lazy (and that would be a kind way to say it), are you not
> committing a bandwagon fallacy (succumbing to peer pressure
> essentially) with your, "Rather than entirely withdraw from that world,
> I have opted to work within it… "?

Well, "work within it" is not equal to "actively encourage other people to
use it". They're already there and have "bought in". I don't think my
absence / the absence of my postings & interactions there would compel
them to not use it. Nor do I feel my little contributions are keeping them
"stuck" there to their detriment (at least not substantially). My compromise
position is that I leave FB alone for all but a handful of minutes of the day,
and then when I do use it, I actively seek out places where I think I can
see value in participating, all the while trying not to get sucked in.

The lion's share of my social media time is spent on iNaturalist,
not Facebook, adding up to hours rather than minutes, and so to the
extent I do remain on FB, it's only because being realistic, not everyone
I'd like to involve in discussions about nature / photography can be
convinced, or even have an interest in iNat. That being said, just this
week, a fellow Debian developer posted an intriguing picture to FB and
straight away I recognized it as an "iNat evangelism moment". I was
delighted when he followed up by getting an account and posting his
observation to iNat, and I've seen a couple more nice shots from him
since then. So I don't think it has been a total waste of time, or entirely
a losing battle.

> Seriously derailed and insanely morbid governments have relied on this
> sort of behaviour from their civil service and from their military and
> indeed from common citizens as well, to commit horrible deeds.

True, true ... and so I'm continuing to watch and learn. I'm not entirely
convinced of my own arguments & apparent successes, and not so
utterly naive that I think that just because I don't see the harm right
now there isn't any.

> Certainly I see your reasoning and it may be mostly harmless in this
> context to do as you say, but I think your position has more potential
> to do harm than Donald's alleged elitism does.

Fair criticism.


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