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Re: Social Committee proposal

On Thu, 25 Jan 2007 18:03:26 -0800, Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> said: 

> On Thu, Jan 25, 2007 at 05:55:03PM -0600, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
>> Voting implies the tyranny of the majority; and I would expect the
>> social and cultural norms to be heavily biased towards white, male,
>> occidental euro-american social and cultural modes; since such is
>> the composition of the voting population.

>> I am not sure I want to be governed by such a social /cultural
>> policy.

> Why do you think the establishment of a "social committee" would
> have any bearing at all on whether you're subject to a tyranny of
> the majority where cultural norms are concerned?

        Good question. Please allow me to see if I can do it
 justice. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the monologue.

        When the subject was first bruited in in the shadowy secrecy
 of -private; it was associated with the technical committee.  it was
 said that the social committee will be like the technical committee,
 except for social and cultural issues.  Like the tech ctte, it would
 make policy, _social policy_, it would define the norms, and so
 on. The constitutional bits related to the DPL and tech ctte were
 quoted as a model for the social committee.

        And the technical committee is the highest authority on
 technical issues in the various institutions the  constitution

        To be fair, all the proponents have said that initially the
 social committee would have very few powers.  But I believe if the
 effort does not die of neglect, if we spend time and energy into it,
 we would only do so to create something effective.  To be effective,
 eventually, it would need teeth.  Me, I  am merely trusting in the
 developers ability to create something effective, and looking far
 enough I can see things that ought to be worrisome.

        You see, the committee is going to define the norms. It is
 going to lay down the acceptable cultural mores. In my experience,
 committees never produce minimalist documents. The never know when
 to stop. Design by committee is what gave us ADA.

        Now, culturally accepted practices differ widely by culture --
 and we are very strongly biased to be a white, male, mostly European
 descended mono-culture, as a group.  For example, in Indian social
 groups (including mailing lists), age and seniority equal respect. I
 have the distinct honour and great discomfort of being addressed as
 "Manoj Sir" in some mailing lists I am on. You might bad mouth people
 approximately your age group, but speak rudely to a "senior" person,
 and the whole gang descends on you and beats you back in line.  On
 the other hand, an occidental social structure, individuality and
 meritocracy take precedence -- and social mores are based much less
 on age. This would be seen as unacceptably rude from where I come

       Now, I have been in the US for (gulp) 21 years (where d_do_
 these decades go?), so I personally have assimilated. But, looking at
 IEEE's latest newsletter about college admissions in CS and
 engineering, and looking at the Asia; the contributors of the future
 to Debian might well come from cultures that find the norms of
 occidental society to be horribly rude.

        Given that once codified, style, usability, and social
 polices (well, almost any policy) tends to get more and more chiseled
 in stone; creating a social policy is not in the Nay^H^Hprojects best
 interest, perhaps.

        No, I am not sure I fully believe this, but it is a point that
 should be considered as we dash headlong towards creating a social
 committee and social policy to mirror the technical committee and
 technical policy and constitutional amendments to chisel it into the

"Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill every time." a coffee
Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> <http://www.debian.org/~srivasta/>
1024D/BF24424C print 4966 F272 D093 B493 410B  924B 21BA DABB BF24 424C

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