Linux laptops, revisited (can any sleep like my PowerBook does?)

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Tue Jan 22 14:42:34 MST 2008


Stuart Jansen <sjansen at buscaluz.org> writes:
>
> Perhaps a better word would be "magical"? Especially in this state.

I think 'mystic' is a better description, at least in the sense that
it is used in philisophical circles.  It describes beliefs without (or
somehow beyond) reason, which covers any sort of source of knowledge
that can't be directly identified, e.g. 'just knowing'.

> My religion is based on adherence to principles that others may not
> accept, but my acceptance of those principles depends on experimentation
> and reason. Some people are religious about Free Software, but given the
> right starting points their positions are logical.

They may be self-consistent, but without a common logical starting
point grounded in objective reality, they remain in mystical
territory.  And again, there's nothing wrong with that so long as you
realize that and also realize the fact that there's no basis on which
to impose principles derived from those beliefs on others.  

For *you* to violate your mystically-derived principles may well feel
like a moral violation, but without the mystical enlightenment you
have received, that principle will make no sense, so it is unfair to
hold others to it.  And when someone calls you on the mystical source
of that principle, it doesn't make sense to argue that it came from
elsewhere and applies to everyone.

(To be clear, I mean 'you' in the abstract sense above, not you
specifically.)

> You were arguing against magical thinking. As in the famous:
>         1) Write software.
>         2) Release source code.
>         *magic happens here*
>         10) Profit!
>
> It is possible to make a living writing Free Software, but it's a
> careful balancing act. If you don't think about what happens between
> steps 2 and 10, you're hoping for magic to replace hard work.

I wasn't really talking about that, but the same sort of sloppy
thinking that leads one to believe that it's morally wrong to not
release source code could certainly lead to business disaster in the
right (wrong?) circumstances.  Business failure with something
seemingly radical like open source software may simply be due to
people not understanding why open source software is valuable.  Now
there's some useful advocacy there that could be done without bringing
supposed moral value of free software into the picture, which is
likely to get you dismissed by business people as a loony.

                --Levi



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