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Re: Do We Need a New Evangelist?

On 29 Mar 1999 bruce@perens.com wrote:

> Hi,

Hi there Bruce! In case everyone hasn't noticed; *everyone* is fair game
as far as I'm concerned. And since I'm the one who started the ESR
discussion here, I may as well include the Bruce's Opinion discussion as
well, aye? ;) 

(Don't worry, Bruce! I'll go easy on you.. for about 2 paragraphs. };)
> Since Eric Raymond has expressed a desire to retire as Open Source evangelist,
> I've written an article "Do We Need a New Evangelist?" discussing how he should
> be replaced. It's at http://perens.com/Articles/Evangelist.html .

*reads article* Oh. This could take a while. Stupid modem. *WHACK!*
*resumes reading* :)

*begin the cut-and-paste and rip apart frenzy!*

   Eric Raymond has expressed the desire to quit his job as Open Source
   Evangelist, as soon as he can find a replacement. Or maybe his letter
   wasn't an offer to quit so much as a challenge for someone else to
   walk a mile in his shoes. If that's what it is, my answer would be
   "you're wearing the wrong shoes".

Exactly. Like I said; there is no way he could have not known what he was
stepping into. He wore his tennies, when he should have been wearing his

   Eric has been a very effective speaker for our cause, but the role of
   speaker also became leader, and that's why he's come in for a lot of
   criticism. I've tried the one charismatic leader thing a few times
   myself, it never works. It always leads to burn-out and frustration,
   as Eric has now realized. This is not how the Open Source community
   functions - rather than a single dominant figure to chart our course,
   we need people who will interpret us to outsiders, and people who will
   initiate public discussion within our community so that the community
   can make its own decisions.

Now see, that's another problem. One I missed. The good PR man isn't the
leader. He's the guy who follows. He's the one in back, with the *HUGE*
banner proclaiming what the stampede in front of him is doing and has

A good leader isn't someone who translates; a good leader is someone who
works, and works hard. GPL code is near-thankless. People bitch, moan,
complain, and whine about bugs. And you don't get paid for your work most
of the time. You do it because you want to. 

The PR man shouldn't be the leader; he should be the voice. Which requires
listening. Which, IMO, ESR just *didn't do*.

   Eric's position became a convenient falsehood for people who wished to
   deal with the Open Source community as if it were a company, and as if
   Eric was the CEO. That's led to all sorts of problems that will not be
   resolved until these people understand that they are dealing with a
   community. Now, Eric runs the risk of becoming like Steve Jobs in the
   "down phase" of Apple: remember how the media loved Steve for a few
   years, and then for a while everybody hated him? That is the eventual
   fate of charismatic figures, the sunburn that comes with the
   spotlight. Eric would best escape it by letting go now.

All I can say is "quit taking the words out of my mouth, Bruce!" The Steve
Jobs comparison actually did hit me while I was at work today. Or more
accurately, Vanilla Ice, or New Kids on the Block, or even the Spice
Girls. Everyone loves him for a while, but then they find out what really
goes on behind the scenes, they loathe him.

   So, I do not suggest that we replace Eric with one individual who can
   continue the role that he designed. Instead, we need about 10 good
   public speakers. I'm willing to do 1/10 of Eric's present speaking
   load, it would be nothing new to me. We can find 9 other people (or 8
   new folks plus Eric) to do the rest. All of them will have lives,
   avoiding the stress level that leads to burnout. None of these people
   will be leaders, at least not in the autocratic sense, although some
   of them will be the kind of people who help the community come to a
   consensus by posting their opinions for you to debate.

I wish I could say I support this, but I can't. With 10 speakers, you
chance too much division. One person says this about that. While another
says that about that. And they could be speaking for the community.. but
getting mixed signals from the community. 

But, at the same time, I can say that I support this. Bruce is on to
something. No one man is an island. But, one man can represent a piece of
that island. And the idea was born.

We need a few speakers. To represent not the movement as a whole, but as
the parts of the movement. One person to represent Linux, another to
represent the BSDs, another to represent applications, another to
represent licensing, and so on. And people devoted to speaking on specific
parts of each part of the movement. Someone for Linux porting efforts.
Someone for enterprise-type applications. And so on, ad infinitum. 

You want to talk Linux, you talk to Person A. You want to talk about the
GPL, you talk to Person B. And me, being the opinionated little bastard
that I am, have a few ideas, at least in the departmental breakup.

Pardon my lame ASCII wannabe flowcharting skills. ;)

Linux -+
       +-> Linux base (kernel, libc5/glibc2, LGPL)
       +-> Linux porting (RS/6000, S/3x0, Atari, TI92, etc.;)
       +-> Linux business (commercial stuff on Linux)
Licenses -+
          +-> The GPL 
          +-> The LGPL
          +-> Everything Else(tm) ;)
Business -+
          +-> Supporters (Basically, someone to work with them. Not for
          +   'em. Sorry IBM/Oracle/RedHat/Caldera/etc/etc employees!)
          +-> Why Use It? (Why should you run our stuff at work?)
General -+
         +-+ The Extremists!
           +-> GPL extremists
           +-> Commercial extremists
         +-> The Indifferent! (It's all good if you've got the source.)
         +-+ The Not-Quite-Extremists!
           +-> The GPL is great, but others are okay too!
           +-> Businesses should use the GPL too!

That totals 13 speakers.

I'd have to nominate Bruce for speaking for one of them, but don't ask me
which. And I'll volunteer for Category 12, The Not-Quite-Extremists that
think the GPL is great, but others are okay too. 

But it's too late to save the image of the OSI, I think. So.. a new
"movement" should be born. 

                      GROUP'!(Oxymoron alert!))

Of course, as always, I'm open to ideas, suggestions, etc. IMO, it really
would need a new name and a new rallying cry. Because it wouldn't be the
OSI. It wouldn't be the FSF. It's something new.. unique.. and very
unified, presenting views from *ALL* angles, instead of one or the other.

> 	Thanks
> 	Bruce Perens

Thanks for getting my brain going again (somewhat). I'm inspired. I think
I'll hack more at radius 1.16 tonight. (HUSH HUSH HUSH! I *KNOW* 2.x is
out. 1.16 is better suited to what I need! And besides, it's GPL. :)

As always, everyone, feel free to comment, insult, harass, harang, call me
at work and scream, call me at work and offer support, call me at work and
hang up on me, email me, offer ideas, contribute feedback, etcetera! :)

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