@loic FOSDEM 2018 had one of the world’s largest surveillance capitalists as its primary sponsor. Who are the sponsors this year?
If Google is sponsoring again, there is no way either I or @indie would take part.
It’s time events that purport to be about freedom stop legitimising and whitewashing surveillance capitalists. And it’s time those of us with legitimacy in this area stop being complicit in that practice.
I think it's important that we take notice of this situation, and prepare for a move away from FOSDEM in case this issue is not addressed. That said, I also think it's important to work issues from inside the community. Boycotting this edition might not be best: instead we can promote our issues to the FOSDEM community, then see what we can do altogether.
@aral, had you not come last year we probably would not have this conversation now.
FOSDEM needs to change on more than one accounts. Funding sources is only one of the issues. More important issues IMO are gender and politics.
At the DI&P devroom we're trying to address both -- from within FOSDEM.
Two things I'm personally sure of:
- if FOSDEM does not address these issues, I'll find other places to do it
- Google has been a sponsor of FOSDEM for years. I do not attend the beer event, but still want to meet with the people there.
@how @aral @loic @indie they have debated this several times I think.
It was already hard to get the "F" into "FOSDEM" at the beginning… Because they are only interested into the technical matters and don't want to touch the politics/ethics of it, which exists regardless if it's accounted for or not.
This is a general problem in technical circles. We like to think we're spearheading the "immaterial economy". Like if computers did not require metals.
I think the 'decentralized people' are a bit more conscious about politics: maybe I'm wrong, but mostly choosing AGPL is already a sign of it.
@aral in 2018 @framasoft presented their initiative to de-googlize internet during the decentralized part of the devroom. And the #SecureDrop project presented technology to evade surveillance, Google included during the afternoon dedicated to privacy. As an organizer I did not feel any kind of pressure, explicit or implicit. I can assure you that if there was even the slightest I would be very vocal about it 🙂
But I acknowledge that promoting Google by accepting them as sponsors is wrong.
Unfortunately a lot of open-source developers do not identify with free software politics or gender issues, and it became obvious that many people think 'neutrality' is good, when it's only a facade to ignore reality: power asymmetry makes 'neutrality' plain collaboration with power.
Check out 'green energy': everybody likes their solar panels and wind turbines, but nobody likes to see the human tragedy, ecocide and global carbon footprint behind it.
The 'green energy' metaphor illustrates well the situation with open-source and free software. While the dominant narrative is that transition towards 'green tech' is good, the fact is that Occident externalized pollution to the mining operations and claim being green.
Now that the GAFAM embraced open-source, they can claim being green, while they're far from it. They're doing green washing.
But many among developers simply like to think it's genuine.
I can't understand your position from what you wrote. "Embracing FOSS"? Do you mean, like a boa constrictor? "Keep it away from their bottomline"? Do you mean green washing? "An affront to their customers"? Are we talking about technology production or consumerism?
Personally what I care about is if they pass that software freedom on to their customers. If they provide the source code for all their client-side software.
Which ofcourse they haven't done.
It's not about not taking a stand. It's about making it visible to the community that needs it most. I think it's important that we attempt, as a community, to bring this to FOSDEM this year, as a warning: if this is not addressed, then we'll go elsewhere.
If this step is not taken, FOSDEM will go on untouched, with people enjoying their fries & beer without questioning the presence of Google, and then Microsoft, and then Palantir...
Come and join us on that topic!
@dfeyer @yukiame @indie @loic @aral At some point, everyone is a bad actor. You can't work in Telecom, Medical or even a University without some questionable ethics. Hell, the components in your computers are made in Malaysia/China, many by low-income and impoverished people. If you denied every questionable company, you'd have little to no sponsorship.
Is it okay to take the sponsorship and do something better? Where is the line? How else would you raise funds? It's a complex question.
> at the end you pay the price.
This is Capitalist brainwashing at work: you are interpreting everything according to the economical assumptions of
We should fight this cultural hegemony.
And a good starting point would be going to the sources of our reasonings.
Take #RobinHood for example: it was invented by jesters at the court of Great Britain, during middle ages.
It has never been a revolutionary.
Less than ever after Disney.
@dfeyer @djsumdog @aral @loic @indie @yukiame I don't know if it's transferable to a "normal" tech conference but I like how the Chaos Communication Congress is run by volunteers, but still charges a (comparably low) ticket price. They even offer the standard ticket at a rate that doesn't cover the costs. It's definitely doable, even at scale. #c3 has more than 12k attendees.
@dfeyer @djsumdog @aral @loic @indie @yukiame Robin Hood 'stole' from the Sheriff of Nottingham... he stole the taxes the Sheriff had taken from the serfs, and gave the taxes back to those serfs to use as they wish. He was an anti-tax-man.
If organisations are no longer to sponsor events they'll have more money to pay their staff/consultants to buy tickets to the events they care about.
@yukiame @dfeyer @djsumdog @aral @loic @indie i was once tempted to say that "they are the same" but order matters in this case: first come the software's freedoms, through them is the possibility to provide freedoms to the people that use the program. This is important since you'll hear some people supporting a "freedom -1", and generally opposing #copyleft and community-oriented enforcement.
> There is no ethical consumption under capitalism
Can you elaborate?
What do you mean?
"There is no ethical consumption under late capitalism" is a stock phrase, describing the way that any interaction with the global market implicitly and unavoidably supports exploitation & abuse. For instance, buying 'fair trade' materials ultimately only delays the support of the kinds of extreme exploitation 'fair trade' is intended to avoid by a single hop.
At the same time, it recognizes that exploitation (in the marxist sense of workers not being in full control of the fruits of their labors -- having no control over distribution or of their own payments) is an inherent part of capitalism -- in fact, it's the definition of capitalism -- and, because this is an unethical situation, any engagement with capitalism at all is ethically dubious.
Generally speaking, when someone says "there is no ethical consumption under late capitalism", they are pointing out that although harm minimization is necessary, it is not sufficient. Philanthropy, careful consumer choices, supporting greenwashing and pinkwashing initiatives, and so on -- these make incremental improvements at best & do not address the root of the problem, because capitalism itself creates the incentives for accelerating exploitation.
Thanks for your explainations!
I have a question, though.
What if you use the tools you get from the market to fight the market?
The balance might be positive.
Live is multidimensional and you might setup multipliers on the projection of a dimension over another, so (at least in theory) while you leverage extractive practice by using tools you get from the market, you might end helping those same people (out of the market).
There's more than market and money, isn't it?
@Shamar @bob If I'm understanding your proposal properly, it's something that most people on the left already do. Very few of us can drop out *now*, so we try to make things bettr & also make capital fight itself. (The extreme form of making capital fight itself -- minus making things better in the meantime -- is called accelerationism.)
Go back in time, and remember all those free services that let us do our thing without paying a cent? Those were google, twitter, facebook.
Look at us now. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
My position is, NEVER trust corporations when they want to "donate" to free causes.
@aral I agree that having Google has major sponsor and promoting internet decentralization is bit strange.
But boycotting because of this sounds wrong too. I prefer thinking about how to make things better? Fosdem is one of the place where decentralization is promoted.
How much sponsor brings to the event? Is it material, money? What kind of good sponsor can help the project?
@valvin @loic @indie I suggest we have the Saudi royal family sponsor FOSDEM. How about some neo-Nazi sponsorship? Is there anywhere you would draw a line at and say “I’m not taking that money?” If so, why are you not drawing that line at surveillance capitalism and corporations that exist by violating our human rights?
@js I'm using the Linux kernel. Google Free Software contributions do not excuse their actions in favor of software patents, collecting private information about their users etc. But I also do not advertise or recommend the Linux kernel as a project because I don't approve of its governance. However I'm ok with using it despite of that. It is difficult to draw the line between what's acceptable and what is not, I give you that 🙂
@loic I think contributing to the Linux kernel and giving money to FOSDEM are both not bad things. It's no reason to either boycott FOSDEM or Linux. Neither Linux nor FOSDEM promised anything in return or did anything bad in return.
@js In 2018 FOSDEM agreed to prominently display Google's logo in exchange for the support, that's something. It is explicitly supporting them and implicitly agreeing that their actions (not just their Free Software actions) are ok.
Thanks to FOSDEM policy, their presence is very light during the event itself. During other events, such as https://www.journalismfestival.com/ which I attended this year, Google had a large room with personnel to groom journalists. This is what they do, if you let them.
Also: yes, the mainstream is fucked up and yes, these are the companies of the mainstream that have the money/power and their tentacles in everything. I’d evaluate whether you are punching up or down when you defend trillion-$ companies against those who criticise their abusive practices and point out institutional corruption.
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