[Linux-aus] Microsoft Offer to Australian University Students (James Collier)

Sridhar Dhanapalan sridhar at dhanapalan.com
Mon Mar 10 04:16:20 UTC 2008

On Mon, 10 Mar 2008 at 12:14, James Collier <james.collier412 at gmail.com> 
> Please find the revised article at
> http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dd39kj22_1ft6276cp I havn't taken the other
> essay down, perhaps I'll use some of the topics covered in that in some
> future article. Special thanks to Glen Turner, I've used a lot of your
> material in this one, your name instead of mine should probably go at the
> bottom! I'm not sure I've thanked everyone properly?
> Anyway, what do you think of this?

Just some suggestions based on my experiences with expos, SFD, SLUG, LA and my 
own business interactions:

* Keep the university on-side. You'll probably never win them over if you 
stake such a strong stance against them. There's a good chance that they 
don't even understand the value of FOSS in relation to proprietary software. 
You should be trying to gently educate them, not accuse them. Don't assume 
malice on their part.

* Try not to look anti-Microsoft. This leaves you open to accusations of 
communism/anarchism and anti-capitalism (it sounds stupid, but it happens a 
lot). Stress that FOSS is pro-free-market, and that many companies benefit 
from it[0].

* By loudly proclaiming 'FREE', you run the risk of making products like 
OpenOffice.org look like 'el cheapo' substitutes (as  
Marghanita da Cruz mentioned in a separate message on the list this morning). 
You can counter this by mentioning the substantial inputs to made to those 
projects by large corporates. In the case of OpenOffice.org, you can mention 
Sun, Novell and IBM. In the case of Firefox, you can mention Google.

* There's only so much that you can include in a short article, so be sure to 
link to some Web sites that have more information.

I'm not going to pretend that it's easy to incorporate all of these factors 
into an article. We still don't have the formula right with most FOSS 
marketing initiatives, and it's something I've been striving to nail for a 
while now. Good luck! :)

[0] http://www.slug.org.au/~yama/fliers/Who%20uses%20Linux%20v2.pdf

"And above all society needs to encourage the spirit of voluntary co-operation 
in its citizens. When software owners tell us that helping our neighbours in 
a natural way is 'piracy', they pollute our society's civic spirit." - 
Richard M. Stallman
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