I was wrong about Google and Facebook: there’s nothing wrong with them (so say we all)

ar.al/2019/01/11/i-was-wrong-a

It’s always difficult admitting you’re wrong. But sometimes you have to in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So, today, I admit that I was wrong about Google, Facebook, & surveillance capitalism in general being toxic for our human rights and democracy … it simply cannot be true given how they are endorsed by some of the most well-respected organisations in the world.

@aral I have serious criticisms of Google and Facebook myself. However, I don't agree with your criticism of Conservancy/Copyleft Conf. Conservancy has actually lost a lot of money over the years because it has stuck to its principles when sponsors preferred that it do something different (eg drop copyleft enforcement). That's one reason they started doing community fundraising drives, because they wouldn't have had the money to keep going otherwise *because* they stuck to their principles.

@aral I certainly agree with criticisms of surveillance capitalist organizations. However there is another problem: the commons is frequently exploited by large corporations that take and take and take from FOSS and don't give back.

If a company is willing to give some money to support free software orgs, no strings attached other than their name appearing on the site, I think that's something we should encourage *more* of. Many companies are taking and not giving, and that sucks.

@aral I do agree that much FOSS *software* is working too hard to bend over backwards for proprietary software integration where decentralized tech integration should be preferred and prioritized however.

@cwebber @aral

I have long advocated a middle-ground here:

**Whenever you compromise your values, APOLOGIZE for it**

Instead of insisting on absolute purity, we can accept that real-world trade-offs happen. But don't present it as normal business, ASK to be excused and explain the situation.

In this case, SFC etc. should have some qualifier every place they reference the Google or Microsoft sponsorships. Something like an *acknowledgement* that this is a compromise and link to a statement.

@wolftune @cwebber @aral

They can't say that.

It's like saying: sorry, we are organizing a conference on #copyleft with the worst enemy of copyleft out there, but hey this is not #marketing, this is serious stuff and you can trust we will be serious about exploring all the ways we can change copyleft to maximize #FreeSoftware, even if they don't want we to.

@Shamar @cwebber @aral

They can totally say something like: "We acknowledge that many practices of these companies go against the goals of Copyleft, and we recognize the concerns people have about the conflicts in our accepting their support as sponsors of our conference." and link to a longer statement about why they still felt the compromise was still the right decision.

I'm not asking anyone to deny anything. It's totally feasible to *admit* and *explain* when we make compromises.

@wolftune

if they feel their decision is the right call, why should they have to apologise?
Maybe instead just note that they are happy to compromise on their core issue and thus should not be trusted to defend this core issue?

@Shamar @cwebber @aral

@oshwm

Applying that analysis leaves us not trusting @aral too.

I'm just now picking up this thread again, because, as best I can tell, he's blocked me for noting his own compromises.

The question isn't whether we compromise or not. We do.

The question is, what are we going to do to make it better?

This purist bomb-throwin feeds into the rage machine that so many of us in the fediverse are trying to disentangle ourselves from

mastodon.sdf.org/@deejoe/10140

@wolftune @Shamar @cwebber

@deejoe @oshwm @aral @wolftune @Shamar @cwebber

I do not know @aral well enough to know if I can trust him or not, he certainly makes the right noises - but you know different and I would like to know what he has done that shows how he has compromised on his 'core values' so that I can put him in the same category (in my mind) as @conservancy

As for Rage Machine, maybe it is not a bad thing if we are being misled by so many people and organisations.

@oshwm

You can trust @aral — he's shown long-term consistency, addressed his own issues (moved toward fully-FLO away from Apple).

But the rage-machine concerns are valid. It's one way to reinforce tribalism and manipulate activists. Purism is a witch-hunt style eat-your-own approach. The whole idea of badge-beliefs and of checking whether someone is "one of us" leads to all sorts fo dysfunctions.

That tribalism is exploitable by actual bad actors.

@deejoe @Shamar @cwebber @conservancy

@wolftune @oshwm @aral @Shamar @cwebber @conservancy

So, I've begun to think about what you might call the "freedom curve", plotted on an axes labelled "freedom" (y) and "reach" (x). I suspect it looks something like an exponential decay, with high freedom plotted at the far left, but with very little reach (let's just say for sake of argument that's where RMS and TdR and a Gideon's Band of others sit). As you move to the right, freedom falls away, but you cover more people.

@wolftune @oshwm @aral @Shamar @cwebber @conservancy

Assuming one can influence the shape of the curve, what do you do?

Do you try to increase the overall limits of freedom for the few on the left? I think someone should.

Do you try to increase the integrated freedom, under the curve, by lifting the broad but imperfect freedoms of people further to the right? Yes, that too.

I haven't used this model so much to think about privacy but it might be useful there too.

@deejoe @wolftune @oshwm @cwebber

I like the approach but you definitely need more dimensions to describe the system.

Yet if @aral is a saint or not is totally unrelevant here.

Is he right about #SurveillanceCapitalism?
I think so.

Is he right that @conservancy should not accept #Google money?
Again I think so, but we can discuss this.

Yet for sure NOT for a conference on #Copyleft!

1/

@deejoe @wolftune @oshwm @cwebber @aral @conservancy

Can #Rifle sponsor gun regulation?
Can #Malboro sponsor tobacco regulation?
Can #Monsanto sponsor GMO regulation?

The answer is no, simply because their business model is in direct contrast with such regulations.

Can #Google sponsor #Copyleft?
No. It's totally the same.

So, even beyond #surveillance, this decision is either incredibly naive or plain malicious.

Follow

Be careful not to allow the ability to avoid conflict-of-interest to become an exclusive privilege.

A great deal of such conflict can be ameliorated with disclosure of the relationship. There's no question about this here, it's been disclosed.

@Shamar @wolftune @oshwm @cwebber @aral @conservancy

@deejoe @wolftune @oshwm @cwebber @aral @conservancy

After 20 years of Berlusconi, we are still paying for the demage he did to Italy (on every level, cultural, ethical, legal, economical...) and we will pay the fee for a long time more.
Hell, I'm afraid it will take centuries to resort.

There is only a way to cope with conflicts of interest: to forbid them, to prevent them to occurs at any cost with no exception.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon @ SDF

"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko