[Linux-aus] Penguin suits grant proposal: that ol' time FOSS religion

Leon Brooks leon-linuxaus at cyberknights.com.au
Sun Dec 4 13:27:02 UTC 2005

On Saturday 03 December 2005 16:17, Andrew Donnellan wrote:
> At least I'm not afraid to say what I believe...

Yeah, well, there are those amongst us who are afraid of a DSL who 
_really_ speaks his mind. (-:

I expect it would be stunned looks and excuses to leave all around, but 
either way your claim possibly has more implications than you expected 
when you made it. (-:

> On 03/12/05, David Lloyd <lloy0076 at adam.com.au> wrote:
>> [...in response to Mr Donnellan's comment:]
>>> That's what catholics believe. Just back from a flamewar session
>>> on slashdot after I posted a pro-intelligent design comment.

>> A pro-intelligent design comment? I don't suppose you have a link
>> to it...personally I think it would be better described as "STUPID

Only at first glance. A lot of "design features" that look dumb are 
being taken out of context and/or have some unexpected but vital 
survival purpose.

What you're [DSL] really saying is that you don't understand the design, 
or don't believe it to be a design, which is well and good as far as it 
goes, but to express it in abusive terms is not wise.

There are several possible situational outcomes, including:

 * there is no design;

 * there is design, but you don't understand it because you lack

 * TIDBYDUIB you're too dumb to understand it [my opinion is that
   you're a very bright boy, but we're speaking in relative terms
   here; postulating a $DIETY clever enough to plan or assemble the
   intricacies we see around us implies a level of understanding
   of physical principles far, far beyond anything even a genius is
   capable of holding in their heads];

 * TIDBYDUIB your a priori assumptions [materialism] blind you to it;

 * TIDBYDUIB you don't *want* to see it;

 * TIDBYDUIB it serves a different purpose to the one you expect it to;

 * TIDBYDUIB its purpose is inscrutible (too alien to understand
   rather than too complicated).

I'm sure that there's more than enough propellorheads on this list to 
more than double the number of points above (that was _not_ an 
invitation, BTW, unless LA has an off-topic list that I don't know 
about :-), but believe it nor not there is indeed a Linux lesson 
lurking underneath all of this.

Linux itself is an interesting blend of Intelligent Design and Mutation 
Plus Natural Selection. At a couple of levels, high and low (e.g. "we 
want a SATA subsystem, it should work like this" and coding the actual 
I/O for a driver) the process is closely aligned with Intelligent 
Design -- or perhaps more accurately Progressive Creation -- while in 
other ways (e.g. the many pluggable scheduling algorithms or the 
pending extinction of devfs) the process is far more akin to the 
mutation-plus-natural-selection loop which most people regard as 
quintissential Evolution.

However interesting this may be, I believe that it's actually less 
important to the wider acceptance of Linux than learning from the 
social principles exposed by this DSL/AD disagreement.

Take on the role of an Intelligent Design advocate and imagine how it 
must feel to confront someone who is absolutely convinced that 
materialistic evolution is The Only True Path. That the only possible 
way that our universe could have arrived at its current state of 
intricacy, everything in it from the aalii tree through flatscreens and 
mulberries to zythum was by way of a tediously long string of random 
mutations moderated by a generous helping of selective interaction. Go 
on, try it, I _dare_ you! Put that hat on! More than dare you, I 
_double-dare_ you! (-:

This is important, because it will give you a much deeper understanding 
of how someone hostile to Open Source feels about you offering them a 
Linux system. As far as they're concerned, you're a "religious looney" 
offering them something which can't possibly work, something which has 
colossal gotchas buried within, something whuch _will_ make them a 

This is why first offering them applications like OpenOffice, Firefox, 
Thunderbird and Battle for Wesnoth -- which run under MS-Windows and 
run well -- is often so critically important before charging in, all 
guns blazing, with a Linux-or-bust approach.

This is also why it's important to use Linux yourself, especially on 
equipment which the customer is likely to come in contact with.

Science has started to make real progress again in many areas where it 
had previously stalled, as key scientists consider that their results 
may be used to support Intelligent Design (or worse), yet make a 
conscious decision to press ahead anyway, letting the chips fall where 
they may.

The reason that this is so despite the current jihad against ID by so 
many science organisations is that they've seen a few scientists hit by 
the jihad, and survive. Likewise, if your target organisation can see 
some minor, unthreatening examples of this "impossible" software making 
itself useful in their world, in their context, it would have the same 
calming effect as AD being able to show DSL some examples of his 
"impossible" principles producing useful science.

The hostile organisation, like DSL, will be extremely reluctant to even 
look at conflicting evidence, which is why so much Linux prenetration 
has happened essentially by stealth. By carefully considering AD and 
DSL's little disagreement here in a different problem-space, you may be 
able to grok how some of your own prospects will view your proposals to 
use Open Source, and it may help you to go in with a viable 
"non-threatening" approach, rather than striding in boldly wearing the 
Holy Armour Of Tux and putting your foot in it.

Cheers; Leon

http://cyberknights.com.au/     Modern tools; traditional dedication
http://plug.linux.org.au/       Member, Perth Linux User Group
http://slpwa.asn.au/            Member, Linux Professionals WA
http://osia.net.au/             Member, Open Source Industry Australia
http://linux.org.au/            Member, Linux Australia

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