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Re: Reasons to join SPI...

On Thu, 25 Oct 2001 23:44:24 +0200, Peter Makholm wrote:
> ... or why I havn't applied for a membership. (yet?)
>to be a member. So what I need is 5 reasons to apply for membership of
>SPI. Reasons that isn't fufilled by being Debian Developer and active
>in the local LUG and on a national level (Denmark).

I'll get to this below.

>I agree that the purpose of SPI mentioned in the bylaws is important
>but how do I work more efficient for these goals as a member of SPI?

SPI is intended to be an umbrella organization to help projects with
administrative issues (mail, FTP, web access, though sourceforge can
handle that much better than we can) and assets (money, hardware etc.)

The question you raise is a good one, but the first question is this:

What should SPI be doing to further the goals of free software?

Look around the 'net today.

DMCA and other legistations are threatening freedoms that we hold dear.
What could/should we be doing about this?  If people want to work on
this issue, they could do so under the SPI umbrella.

Cryptography and privacy regulations can use work.  The legislators who
make the laws aren't necessarily the most informed on the new
technologies and their uses.  How can we educate them and help them
understand the technologies so that they can pass better laws?

The term 'open source' is widely used nowadays, and may someday become
diluted.  Everyone's mentioning it these days, some more, some less
close to what we believe it shoudl stand for.  How can we keep the
concept where it should be, and educate people about the choices
(advantages, disadvantages, etc. too) of free software, open source, and
other kinds of SW?

What projects have good ideas but are short on manpower, resources, etc?
Maybe they can be encouraged to work with other projects to get more
momentum behind thhem.

Standards.  How many are evolving these days?  Helping develop them and
endorsing (or maybe even just _publicizing_ them) can inform people and
make sure free software is headed in one direction wrt a certain issue
instead of 10 simultaneous directions.

Now, back to your question about membership.  Look at the Java Lobby for
example.  They have many members, and this makes the organization carry
a certain weight when they get involved in discussions.

SPI without a membership is just a legal framework for Debian, but with
a membership it becomes an organization that can attempt to move on
issues that are key to the development of the 'net.  This is also why
the membership is important:  SPI without a membership (and just a board
of directors) may not always reflect the concerns of the community.
With a membership, SPI becomes a _representation_ of the community, and
can involve itself in issues that decide the future of that very

You're right that the members need
to be involved, and they need to be involved constantly.  But consider
Debian for a minute: Debian exists for a specific purpose, and people
who want to help can join.  SPI's purpose is much more broad by
definition, so its important to hear people's concerns or wishes and to
have SPI act on them.

I'm hoping that spi-general will become a sounding board for the memebrs
and others in the community, and that the issues brought up there will
drive SPI to action.

I hope that I've addressed your concerns. It's tough to write a mail ike
this without a question to answer or a statement to respond to; that's
why I haven't really come up with anything for the web page yet.  If
people have ideas (or want to formulate something based on this mail),
they should try to come up with something.

That's both the beauty and problem of SPI:  It's role isn't completely
defined so the memebrship can determine what it should do, but on teh
other hands the members _do_ need to decide what role it should fill (or
what itch it should scratch).  The organization evolve, and it will do
this because of it's membership.

Have at it!


Nils Lohner                        Software in the Public Interest, Inc.
E-Mail: lohner@spi-inc.org         PO Box 273 
President <president@spi-inc.org>  Tracy, Ca. 95378-0273, USA

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