Commented Link: Statement of FSF board on election of Richard Stallman2021-04-13 #links #rms #fsf
After the weird return of rms to the Free Software Foundation board, now both the FSF and rms provided statements about the event.
But I still think things are amiss.
First, a small look at rms short statement. While recognizing his troubled comments, it seems he focused on one single event -- the Minksy comment -- , ignoring a lot of others that appeared, like the accounts of women feeling uncomfortable and people pointing the way he directed the FSF. He did mention that he may sound "tone deaf" and the feeling that this statement is "just to say something" may be related to that, but still... Can't be board help him in discussing this kind of stuff?
Second, and which gave me a lot more "bad vibes" was the statement by the FSF board about rms reinstatement into the board. On that, the second paragraph strikes me like the most out of perspective of them all.
For example, "We decided to bring RMS back because we missed his wisdom." The problem here is that it pushes an emotional tone: they don't "lack" the wisdom, they just "missed" it. It's not like they recognize a failure in the current board focus, it is more like they felt they needed the "hug that really tied the room together".
Another point: "His historical, legal and technical acumen on free software is unrivalled." I understand where they are trying to get here, and I'd give that rms really does have a lot of historical knowledge, but that strikes me as, again, a problem with rms. If you have a senior dev/technical leader in your project, it is expected that this person would help other developers and management people by passing away their knowledge, to the point that they may be, in the future, totally irrelevant (that doesn't happen, 'cause either they move up the hierarchy or new people are brought to the team). A technical leader/senior dev that doesn't share knowledge is a failure, in my opinion. On those 20 years in the FSF before renouncing his position, rms should've shared enough that even if his knowledge is vast, a lot was present around no matter what. While I can't point the problem directly at rms, as it could be that the board itself didn't care about acquiring more knowledge (as some developers do), this shows that there is a huge problem here.
Still in this same paragraph, "He remains the most articulate philosopher and an unquestionably dedicated advocate of freedom in computing." rms admitted himself that he's tone deaf. How can someone be articulate if he's tone deaf and can't properly explain his points? Connect this that, in the next point the board itself recognizes that "his personal style remains troubling for some" and you have someone that isn't articulate.
And finally, there is "We recognize the need to attract a new generation of activists for software freedom and to grow the movement." This is true and I'm fully behind the FSF on this point. Except for the fact that instead of bringing someone from a new generation to fill the seat in the board, they are bringing someone from the previous generation. If I had to shown my geek credentials, I'd say that it is basically Kirk taking command of Enterprise A from Decker and, if Decker wasn't there, he'd blow the ship completely in the first warp test. A new generation is necessary to understand the new environment, we can't keep using the same old knowledge now that the ship is a brand new one.
The feeling I got from all this is that both texts were posted only to say "Yeah, ok", not "We recognize our faults". If rms recognized the problems, he would've cited the other issues, citing his side and pointing understanding about where he failed. If the board recognized the problem with appointing rms again, they wouldn't have use an emotional tone about him and wouldn't pin this all in a "new generation" while staying with the old.
Being wrong happens. Understanding what was wrong (communication, attitude, understanding at the time) and pointing that out is a great way to grow up. If you keep deflecting this, you end up standing still doing the same wrongs again. And I feel both rms and FSF, in those statements, are still standing still.