Contributing to free software requires privilege. Even regular contributors might sometimes find themselves without it.
Time, focus and money. You might find yourself lacking in one of these at various points in your life.
While software projects from startups move like streams, most free software projects move like glaciers. They move slowly but they keep moving for decades.
Being away from a project doesn't mean you have to give it up. You can join back later.
@josemanuel @njoseph Prevailing material conditions mean that not everyone *will* have equal opportunities to contribute. Being able to perform a significant amount of un-or-under-compensated work without suffering economic hardship necessarily comes from having at least some degree of economic privilege. I'm not saying OSS or FOSS propagate inequality.
@ryan Again, is contributing to free software un-or-under-compensated work? Yes, in most cases. But so is having a hobby. Do you consider having hobbies to be a privilege?
And nobody’s forced to «perform a significant amount» of work. You can just contribute a patch, a bug report, a translation, an improvement to documentation, etc. Or simply fork an existing project for your own personal purposes or to learn and improve yourself.
Moreover, contributing to (or just using) free software can help one land better paid jobs that will get them more time and better material conditions to contribute more significantly if they so desire.
So, again, I fail to see where the so-called privilege is.
@josemanuel @njoseph Yeah, not having to spend all one's time on bare survival does make one privileged compared to those who do. It's an advantage you take for granted, that you don't even notice most of the time, that you may not even *think* of as an advantage that some people don't have. I.e., a privilege (according to my understanding). Maybe this is where the communication breakdown is happening. Are we operating from different understandings of this word?
> can help one land better paid jobs that will get them more time and better material conditions to contribute more significantly if they so desireIn other words, not just privilege, but privilege with leverage! Having the resources to invest in free software is the digital global analogue of landed gentry.
@clacke Ok. I understand your point now and I disagree.
Do you call people who give their time to any NGO dedicated to help others privileged? Because I’d feel insulted if I was one of them.
“Hi, I donate my free time to work for social justice and to reduce inequality.” “Yeah? Well, check your privilege, asshole.”
@josemanuel I don't think you understand. Are these people able to help because they're privileged? Yeah, no shit they are. But *having* privilege is no cause for someone to tell you "check your privilege, asshole." *That* response is generally reserved for people who are blind to their privilege and so expect *everyone* to be able to do what they are able to do. Many forms of privilege are not at all under a person's control. E.g., being able-bodied, or being light-skinned.
@josemanuel Being privileged is nothing to be ashamed of, but it *does* bring with it the responsibility of using that privilege for good. It is simply a form of power, relative to the unprivileged. And it's a good idea to nurture awareness within yourself about your privilege, because it's shit like (for example) telling people how *anyone* can retire young because you (with your daddy's money) were able to do it that'll get you told to check that privilege.
Does that help?
@ryan @josemanuel @clacke @njoseph
A lot of free software developers look more or less the same and are from the same background. They're eroding their privilege by working on free software - great! But it's still a huge problem for the free software community. We all lose out because the software is less interesting/useful than it could be.
There's no contradiction in both being super thankful for the work of any free software dev, but also want to work on the structural problems that lock out a lot of people from contributing.
Interesting. I don't personally feel negatively about the word "privilege," FWIW, but what word for that concept would you feel more comfortable with? "Advantage?" Or...? Like, I don't think we're going to get everyone to move to another word or anything, but maybe this will help me understand your perspective better. I'm guessing my experiences around this concept have been wildly different from yours.
For sure we have a privilege: being able to code.
It's the privilege of scribans in Ancient Egypt and we should work hard to invent an alphabet that free the rest of the world from our power, as we tend to serve the Pharaons of our age.
We continuosly raise complexity, either accidentally or as an explicit entry barrier to "the market" (think of modern browsers) while we should always keep it so low that literally everybody could read and modify the code.
I recognize such privilege but as @jcbrand noticed, it doesn't give anybody any entitlement on my work.
It just give me the will and energy to look for solutions that turn such privilege into a freedom that everybody can use for real (but not without study: even if you want to drive a car you have to study how to drive, and a computer is much more powerful - and socially dangerous - than a car!)
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