[Discuss] Free Hardware

Wouter Tebbens wouter at freeknowledge.eu
Fri Mar 20 12:11:05 UTC 2015

Hi Nancy,

On 03/20/2015 12:48 PM, Nancy Ouyang wrote:
> 1) Hmph, well I'm kind of an optimistic person, so I'll reach out to rms
> anyway.
you should, but don't expect him to embrace the open source hardware
term ;-)

> 2) I respect rms for his contributions to the related but distinct free
> software movement that inspires oshw, but i am absolutely going to
> criticize him for not doing his research when he is branching out to
> another field (albeit one inspired by his work).
of course, that's great to point out any failures in his article


> Ideally, it'd be tailored to the person, since people interpret things
> depending on their own life stories and their various levels of
> self-confidence, and there are absolute thresholds, like it's never okay
> to send someone death or rape threats, and it's generally bad to
> criticize a person's character instead of his actions. But I am
> 99.999999% sure rms is not going to end up in tears because some no-name
> person (me) called him a crank or a jerk (which, admittedly, is not Best
> Practices, but sometimes happens when I feel particularly batpoop angry
> and aggressive) and especially not that I told him to show he did his
> research.
calling somebody names isn't generally a good thing, and doesn't show
much respect, which you said to hold for him under 1) ;-)

> 3) Actually, since rms uses the term "we" in the article, maybe we need
> to reach out to FSF in addition to Wired. Does OSHWA talk to FSF?

> 4) p.s. err, wouter & folks, i'd prefer if you stopped using the vague
> 'some' and just called me out if that's what you intended... personally,
> i'm not going to hate you for calling me out, but it's hard to respond
> to vaguely directed criticism
You took it personally, so I answer you personally in this mail.

But for the rest of it, please don't take it personally, I value your
and others' contributions to this list! And I wouldn't want to loose our
collective energy and precious time in personal discussions.

best regards,


> ~~~
> narwhaledu.com <http://narwhaledu.com>, educational robots
> <http://gfycat.com/ExcitableLeanAkitainu> [[<(._.)>]] my personal blog
> <http://www.orangenarwhals.com>, orangenarwhals
> arvados.org <http://arvados.org> (open source software for provenance,
> reproducing, and scaling your analyses)
> On Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 6:38 AM, Wouter Tebbens <wouter at freeknowledge.eu
> <mailto:wouter at freeknowledge.eu>> wrote:
>     On 03/19/2015 06:12 PM, Matt Maier wrote:
>     > They're giving him airtime because he's Richard Stallman
>     > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman
>     >
>     > He started GNU, the concept of copyleft, and the Free Software
>     > Foundation.
>     Exactly, for those great contributions he merits a little more
>     respectful treatment than some give him on this list.
>     > He talks a lot about the distinction between free software
>     > and open source software, and his argument that free software is a moral
>     > imperative. Every now and then people ask him to extend his argument to
>     > hardware and this article is interesting because it looks like his
>     > perspective has evolved a bit.
>     We don't need to exactly agree with RMS's view and way of putting
>     things, but it sure does help to keep clear where the open movement
>     comes from, and that from an outside perspective, be it free/libre or
>     open, we all advocate for commons-based peer produced forms of
>     knowledge, in our case of hardware designs. That's our shared vision,
>     and even if we can dispute about it, Richard is part of that vision, for
>     many many years already.
>     Of course the morale/ethics perspective is harder to accept for many,
>     and focusing on the pragmatic side of having designs that allow people
>     to use, make, modify, distribute and sell is very valuable as well, and
>     more easily accepted in general. At the end, maybe it is two sides of
>     the same coin.
>     But I think it is very valuable that we have people like Richard
>     insisting on the ethical side. At the end adoption in part depends on
>     people valuing the ethical in combination with the pragmatical. Take
>     renewable energy, early adopters mainly cared about a sustainable
>     future, even if that would cost them money and time to solve
>     impracticalities (that was for ethical reasons mainly). Now it is going
>     mainstream and people adopt it (also) for economic reasons
>     (pragmatical).
>     >
>     > It seems unlikely that he'd reach out to the open source hardware
>     > community because he doesn't think open source hardware is really
>     > relevant to what he's doing (free software).
>     Richard wasn't happy when people rebranded Free Software into Open
>     Source Software and has fought about this for years. He will always take
>     the opportunity to clarify why he disagrees with the term "open source"
>     and why he values "freedom" as defining criterion. For many people new
>     to this discussion, that provides insights. For others who already have
>     heard it, it may be tiring. But take him for who he is and don't try to
>     convince him of adopting the OSHW term, that won't work ;-)
>     best,
>     Wouter
>     >
>     > On Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 9:52 AM, Nancy Ouyang <nancy.ouyang at gmail.com <mailto:nancy.ouyang at gmail.com>
>     > <mailto:nancy.ouyang at gmail.com <mailto:nancy.ouyang at gmail.com>>> wrote:
>     >
>     >     Why... why is WIRED giving airtime to this rms crank who can't even
>     >     be bothered to reach out to the entire open source hardware
>     >     community on this list (prior art, please) or mention the hard work
>     >     done by OSHWA / Alicia Gibbs / other folks?
>     >
>     >     --Nancy, semi-seriously, I realize rms is a Big Deal, but really?
>     >     Wired is going to promulgate rms on this "free hardware" term when
>     >     we've already standardized around open source hardware? I hope at
>     >     least this wasn't published in the print magazine, or else I'm going
>     >     to start picking a fight with rms and that's going to be a drastic
>     >     waste of everyone's time, lol.
>     >
>     >
>     >
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