[FoRK] [liberationtech] fossjobs - first job platform exclusively for FOSS jobs

Ken Meltsner meltsner at alum.mit.edu
Sun Nov 18 18:23:01 PST 2012

Having known (at the acquaintance/friend of a friend level) 3 out of 4
people in this account, it all seems quite reasonable.  I still recall with
distaste a discussion between RMS and ESR about how much attention it was
OK to pay to female co-workers, and at what point said attention would
constitute harassment.

Ken Meltsner

On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> ----- Forwarded message from Shava Nerad <shava23 at gmail.com> -----
> From: Shava Nerad <shava23 at gmail.com>
> Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2012 03:08:52 -0500
> To: liberationtech <liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu>
> Subject: Re: [liberationtech] fossjobs - first job platform exclusively for
>         FOSS jobs
> Reply-To: liberationtech <liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu>
> On Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 7:32 PM, Seth David Schoen <schoen at eff.org> wrote:
> > Tianay Pulphus writes:
> >
> > > What's the story behind the name? What's a foss? Is it a play on
> "boss"?
> >
> > It's Icelandic for "waterfall" :-þ, but in this case it refers to free
> > and open source software.
> >
> So, FOSS also can't use Agile(tm) development, because that would be
> proprietary (and you know, the whole waterfall thing...;).  <-- corporate
> and FOSS in joke all-in-one! ;)
> Free and open source software are historically different names for the
> > same software, but each name is preferred by different people who have
> > different emphasis.
> >
> So, more trivia, why not...  Sit around the virtual fire, children, and let
> gramma Shava tell you a story of the DIgital Elders, back when we were
> young and spry.  Thirty five years from now, you too will tell stories of
> how you danced with the young revolutionaries!
> Listen.
> In 1984, I think it was, I was the volunteer original PR person for the
> newly formed Free Software Foundation.  But Stallman fired me.
> This is how that went down, and how that relates to why FOSS is forked by
> about a decade and a half.  And the whole thing is haunted by the shadows
> of two girls dancing with two boys who never met each other for twenty
> years.
> The first paper I ever published (with Mark Chilenskas) was *Tailoring EDT
> for the Structured Languages Programmer*, in 1981, the same year Gosling
> adapted Richard Stallman's emacs for Unix (previously it only ran on LISP
> machines or MULTICs or something...?).
> Anyway, I remember it wasn't on Unix until then and Mark and I were
> desperate to adapt the EDT editor on VAX/VMS so we'd have *something* like
> emacs that was made to edit *code* not human language on DEC VMS machines
> where we didn't have privs to install software as we went from site to
> site.
> Mark couldn't make it to DECUS that spring so I presented the paper myself
> (I was 22, and my last year before starting to work on Internet and society
> stuff).
> The paper was hugely well received, and they scheduled a second session on
> Friday because so many people got locked out of the Tuesday session.  Who
> knew?  DEC started working on the Language Sensitive Editor (LSE) product
> as a result.  I got invited to sit on DECUS' Languages and Tools SIG and
> DECUS UNISIG and be liaison between the two, and also moderated the Editor
> Wars panel for a while.  Big fun.
> And I was probably one of the youngest and certainly the youngest female
> and probably the youngest un-degreed chief software engineer at DEC the
> next year.  Enfant terrible.  At which point I was matrix managing a group
> of forty on prototype projects, authoring the first commercial multimedia
> productions integrating video, voice, and color graphics in the world.
>  Would I have hired me at 23 for that job?  Naaaah.  Heh.
> Anyway, Stallman and I had been friends since I'd landed in Boston in the
> late 70s.  We used to go folk dancing sometimes, and argue philosophy and
> what not. When he started FSF in 1984, I figured I'd help with PR.
> My thought was, I had been working with free software promotion for a few
> years in DECUS, as UNISIG liaison to L&T (which was really, by implication,
> VMS languages & tools, because BSD Unix on the VAX was poor cousin in that
> culture).
> But I was also very much at peace with corporate and government and various
> contexts, being something of a chameleon and bridge builder.  So as FSF PR,
> I felt it important to reach out to corporations and engage them in the
> enlightened self interest they had in supporting free software as de facto
> standards and Good Things(tm), and then talked about that to the press too.
>  It was an attractive message.  It had reach.  Briefly.
> Well, Richard went BALLISTIC.  Never mind chewing his hair he was chewing
> me out and chewing the carpet.  He is very anti-corporate, and the idea
> that I had said that corporations should see their enlightened
> self-interest in supporting FSF and free software and implied that he might
> be courting corporate support made him really incensed.  Of course, as a
> nonprofit fundraiser, I thought that was exactly what we should be doing.
> So that's how, a couple months in, I got fired from my volunteer PR
> position at FSF...  NUCLEAR. And if you know me, I'm not shy.  I didn't go
> down easy.  I spent three and a half hours over lunch one day debating with
> Richard whether it was justified for me to wear a dress to give a
> presentation when I always wore jeans to work. (long story) and I won.  But
> this went over the top of anything and very public, because both of us saw
> it as very very important.
> Result: it was a huge disincentive for anyone to mention the notion of
> cooperation with anything corporate, any compromise, anything off message,
> anything that wasn't checked through the ministry of rms before it hit
> public channels for a long long time.  And I doubt Richard even understands
> this to this day.
> Now, anyone here who's familiar with the culture of the Open Source
> movement, the point Richard and I parted on is one of the
> F|OS differentiations.  And you can easily crystallize those
> differentiations in rms (Richard Stallman) and esr (Eric S. Raymond).
> Eric S. Raymond, who wrote *The Cathedral and the Bazaar* fifteen years
> after rms fired me, espoused a lot of the same basic notions as I had.  And
> Eric just kind of ran with it, partly due to being a stubborn SOB in
> parallel ways to rms being a stubborn SOB, and as revolutionary genius
> types often are. (Although a very different flavor and ilk IMO -- Eric is
> not as God-touched code-Dali cthonic brilliant and monastic mad monkish as
> rms, but he's damned good at what he does, and manages to be a completely
> different sort of PITA who makes himself too useful to be ignored! :)
> Where I truly believe that Stallman lives in the world of Platonic ideals
> (maybe in that cave...?),  Eric is a bit more pragmatic and flinty as hell,
> and I think just got sick of the cult and politics around GNU/Linux
> development at the time, and decided to be a heat sink specifically to
> differentiate some of the ideas into factions because Stallman's ideas are
> ideological in one particular direction.
> Eric dug in heels, but didn't really think he was doing what he got set up
> as.  It's just that, not many people have enough asbestos to do what he
> did.  I mean, I walked, I own that.  There wasn't a loyal opposition to
> rally at the time.  Eric kind of became a rally point, from what I can see.
>  "What he said!"
> Where Stallman's idea of free software is, as many ideological sets are, a
> philosophy that tends to not flourish until a revolution should occur to
> plow new ground ("Come the revolution!"), open source is more inclusive and
> co-exists side by side with proprietary software.
> Free software would be a perfect system in a world where IP laws were
> abolished and people shared freely -- it is an idealistic system (and
> really beautiful, sort of the Erewhon of software) if you hear Richard talk
> about his vision of it, revolutionary in origin, radical, like any perfect
> community property/communistic/commons sort of schema.  It requires a
> pre-existing community of integrity and common values to function
> perfectly.
> Happily, as it's evolved (revolution often capitulated to evolution!) it
> doesn't have to function perfectly, and it's been modified and been
> introduced to lawyers and balkanization and elaboration that allows it to
> interface with the real world so we can enjoy it on a pragmatic basis...;)
> The funny thing is...  I've known Eric Raymond *too* since we were in our
> late teens, haunting the F&SF cons on the US eastern seaboard.  Both he and
> rms in completely separate contexts use to hang out with me and my best
> friend from college; they both had terrific crushes on her (geez, she was
> always the one they fell for hard...), but neither Eric nor Richard knew
> the other at the time.
> My friend and I would go dancing with Richard.  We called Eric "Eric
> Goat-boy" or "Eric the Flute," and he would play his flute for us to dance
> like little teenage Roma girls in the halls of cons in flounced skirts and
> poet shirts, our shoes and packs in a jumble.
> Fandom, Unix, cons.
> Waterfalls.
> Personality politics.  Technology
> Friendships.
> Liberation!
> Thirty-five years...

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