These are the slides to Ian’s awesome Capital District *BSD User Group (CDBUG) talk back in May: http://cdbug.org/?p=49
Was the talk recorded?
No. Unfortunately, we haven’t been recording things at CDBUG. I should change that…
Hmm… so it looks like “meritocracy” got hinged on, when it is actually the least important part of the blog post (hence it’s relegated to the last real paragraph; seriously, CTRL-f “meritocracy”). The blog post is actually a critique of the governance structure of FreeBSD: the belief that it is an achieved meritocracy is just one (very) small part of it. In short: I find the reliance on their particular form of weak representative democracy cannot properly elucidate the actualities of the community-at-large, which ultimately misrepresents FreeBSD to the very groups which they likely want to most accurately present FreeBSD, e.g. news outlets (even if they are Phoronix) and potential and current corporate sponsors. The meritocracy line is merely denoting a symptom (a symptom that appears to have been remedied), not a cause.
I will say that kragen’s attempt to define my politics and class is amusing (since I most certainly cannot “claim to be part of [these marginalized groups my]self,” nor would it be ideal for me to do so). I’ll also point out that popularity contests are not the diametrical opposite of meritocracy: technically the opposite would be a system that claims the inability to judge merits of any kind. Popularity contests could well be a mechanism to discern merit.
I really wish Lobsters would implement user filtering.
Because reading things you disagree with has been known to stifle personal growth?
it cares that you are a person who has access to computers, the Internet, and already possesses enough knowledge to engage with the system on some normative level.
It’s entirely possible to engage with FreeBSD without access to computers or Internet, and the community is (IME) very willing to help you with that. Of course it’s easier if you have Internet, but so is engaging with any community; FreeBSD user groups are very welcoming though. Does the author think the answer to “what would a truly inclusive FreeBSD look like?” includes doing more for people who don’t have computers or Internet? If so, let’s be more concrete about that - a wall of feminist theory, dense enough to need citations, will naturally be greeted sceptically, but practical suggestions for improvement are great. As for knowledge, isn’t that included in “know what you are doing”?
I don’t want to identify my community as “feminist”. That word means many things to many people, some of them quite negative - e.g. “feminist"s have been some of the worst oppressors of trans people. More fundamentally, it’s a community that is poor at self-policing and has (IME) an… insufficient respect for facts and evidence. (e.g. http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/02/17/lies-damned-lies-and-social-media-part-5-of-%E2%88%9E/ )
FreeBSD the OS? Or FreeBSD the community? How are you going to affect change if your communicative link is nonexistent? Those people already don’t have access. My students aren’t going to come to a CDBUG meeting. We need to think about new and different and novel ways of solving these problems. Likely the best solutions haven’t been dreamed up yet. Your comment relies entirely on current normative engagement. I’m saying we need to think beyond that.
I gave a really good practical suggestion: stop saying colorblindness will work towards inclusion. That’s a start.
“As for knowledge, isn’t that included in ‘know what you are doing’?”
No. There’s no other way to say it. Unless you want to get into the situated knowledges game. Yes, even “knowledge” can be othering.
“I don’t want to identify my community as ‘feminist’.”
I’m sorry you feel that way. On the other hand, it means my article did exactly what it was supposed to do. And it doesn’t change the fact that Free Software is feminist. Feminism is a long theoretical tradition about work and power. As uncomfortable as it might make you feel, it doesn’t change Free Software not falling in line with that tradition.
Also please don’t use strawmen to try to dismiss the idea of feminism. You just come off as someone who doesn’t actually know what feminism is (which I will give you the benefit of the doubt here). Yes I get that there is distrust for “Internet/tumblr feminism” but then we’re not talking about the same things. And then we both lose out. (There’s no reason we can’t “take back” feminism from them either.)
And it doesn’t change the fact that Free Software is feminist.
Do you have any supporting material for that assertion?
I have heard others claim Free Software is Socialist, yet others (often derogatorily) that it is Communist.
In addition, FreeBSD does not spring from the same tradition of Free/Libre Software as GNU software does. This all makes things more confusing, and so simply stating that Free Software is feminist several times, with no context, supporting evidence or even reasoning, both here and the article, leaves me rather unconvinced.
Sure. This says it better than I can in a comment, though it is by no means exhaustive: http://p2pfoundation.net/Feminist_Theory_and_Free_Software
Thanks for the link. Interesting, and quite dense reading!
Based on a quick skim read (text is pretty dense!), it seems more that the linked text is looking at the FS movement through a lens of Feminist theory, to see if norms are being followed that could/would improve various knowledge-producing capacities. It didn’t seem like the text was claiming that the FS movement was “feminist”, but that it was interesting, seemed to share some core concepts with feminism (quote: “Power asymmetries, power effects – and their ethical counterparts injustices, biases, discrimination have been core topics in feminist theory”), and that the FS movement is worth evaluating how it deals with entrenched power, reality shaping, etc.
Like I mentioned, it’s not exhaustive or perfect. But it’s a quick up-to-speed for the unfamiliar. Unfortunately the heavier stuff means you’re reading Donna Haraway and the like. And that would require much much more than a blog post and comment thread.
If you don’t know where it’s going, how can you know it’s a start? Stopping saying that isn’t going to help your students - and it is going to have nonzero costs. Sometimes we have to make things worse before we can make them better, but you need to make the case that we’re actually going somewhere better first.
Also please don’t use strawmen to try to dismiss the idea of feminism. You just come off as someone who doesn’t actually know what feminism is (which I will give you the benefit of the doubt here).
This sounds like the argument that communism is an effective form of government, it’s just all the communist countries weren’t actually communist. There is no feminist manifesto, no catechism, no pope who declares what is and isn’t feminism, so if the word doesn’t mean the people who identify themselves as feminists then what does it mean? That’s the opposite of a strawman.
And the fact that you’re being very insistent that I’m using the “wrong” definition of a word, when I take the most obvious possible plain-english interpretation of that word, is exactly the kind of rhetorical trick that has turned me against feminism.
I never used the word “wrong.” This is important. It is a fruitful microcosm to the nature of your comments in relation to the latter sections of my blog post.
Because I know where this is going, I give the following thought experiment: consider the kind of work a blog post like this is doing and ask yourself if you are in the trajectory of that work. You’ll discover that everything you said is orthogonal to the blog post. You have pretty severely missed the point. That’s ok.
That’s not to say your criticism isn’t appreciated. This just isn’t the blog post to which your concerns are addressed. And it’s not supposed to be. That’s ok. Nothing is going to be all things to all people. Perhaps I’ll have future blog posts that work to address you more directly. The fortunate takeaway for me is your responses demonstrate that my post did at least part of the work I hoped it would.
You said “You just come off as someone who doesn’t actually know what feminism is (which I will give you the benefit of the doubt here).” Applying the ordinary English meanings of ordinary English words, I think “wrong” captures the meaning of that statement reasonably well (I guess it loses some of the condescension, but I don’t think that’s central to the meaning). Do you disagree?
Again this peculiar insistence on specific words makes me think this is empty rhetoric.
Because I know where this is going, I give the following thought experiment: consider the kind of work a blog post like this is doing and ask yourself if you are in the trajectory of that work. You’ll discover that everything you said is orthogonal to the blog post. You have pretty severely missed the point.
Ah, the feminist bait-and-switch. You made a public post that appears to be addressed at anyone trying to expand/improve the FreeBSD community, which is certainly me. If you’re talking about being less “colourblind”, then - well, admittedly it’s hard to tell because you haven’t proposed anything concrete, but any changes you make would affect my community and my participation in it. Heck, if nothing else, you deliberately posted it to this site.
“Do you disagree?”
Yes, fundamentally. What I said and your interpretation are incongruous.
“Ah, the feminist bait-and-switch…” Nope. Sorry. But please feel free to try again. You’ve offered a neatly packaged misreading of my blog post. Seeing as the vast majority of people who have interacted with me about the blog post have gotten the message, and based on our conversation here, the blog post did its work extremely well. So I’m OK if you come away with such a misreading.
Only a troll would be happy to be misunderstood. Again just telling me I misread, or don’t know, or am wrong, and giving no specifics. Why not be constructive?
I never said I was happy to be misunderstood. I said I was OK if you came away with the misreading you did because you appear from my vantage point to be in an extreme minority. Nothing is going to be perfect. It is OK to recognize that.
Your inability to accurately represent my comments does not inspire confidence that you are willing to be an honest participant. Perhaps my next blog post will do better work for you is all I can offer.
I’ve been honest - if anything too honest. I’ve been skeptical but constructively so.
Why did you post the post here if you weren’t willing to engage with discussion of it? (You say I’m an extreme minority but this is the only thread I see here). Why did you reply to contradict me if you’re not willing to say anything specific enough to be constructive? It’s you who is acting in bad faith here.