KDE-Apps.org Applications for the KDE-Desktop 
 GTK-Apps.org Applications using the GTK Toolkit 
 GnomeFiles.org Applications for GNOME 
 MeeGo-Central.org Applications for MeeGo 
 CLI-Apps.org Command Line Applications 
 Qt-Apps.org Free Qt Applications 
 Qt-Prop.org Proprietary Qt Applications 
 Maemo-Apps.org Applications for the Maemo Plattform 
 Java-Apps.org Free Java Applications 
 eyeOS-Apps.org Free eyeOS Applications 
 Wine-Apps.org Wine Applications 
 Server-Apps.org Server Applications 
 apps.ownCloud.com ownCloud Applications 
 KDE-Look.org Artwork for the KDE-Desktop 
 GNOME-Look.org Artwork for the GNOME-Desktop 
 Xfce-Look.org Artwork for the Xfce-Desktop 
 Box-Look.org Artwork for your Windowmanager 
 E17-Stuff.org Artwork for Enlightenment 
 Beryl-Themes.org Artwork for the Beryl Windowmanager 
 Compiz-Themes.org Artwork for the Compiz Windowmanager 
 EDE-Look.org Themes for your EDE Desktop 
 Debian-Art.org Stuff for Debian 
 Gentoo-Art.org Artwork for Gentoo Linux 
 SUSE-Art.org Artwork for openSUSE 
 Ubuntu-Art.org Artwork for Ubuntu 
 Kubuntu-Art.org Artwork for Kubuntu 
 LinuxMint-Art.org Artwork for Linux Mint 
 Arch-Stuff.org Art And Stuff for Arch Linux 
 Frugalware-Art.org Themes for Frugalware 
 Fedora-Art.org Artwork for Fedora Linux 
 Mandriva-Art.org Artwork for Mandriva Linux 
 KDE-Files.org Files for KDE Applications 
 OpenTemplate.org Documents for OpenOffice.org
 GIMPStuff.org Files for GIMP
 InkscapeStuff.org Files for Inkscape
 ScribusStuff.org Files for Scribus
 BlenderStuff.org Textures and Objects for Blender
 VLC-Addons.org Themes and Extensions for VLC
 KDE-Help.org Support for your KDE Desktop 
 GNOME-Help.org Support for your GNOME Desktop 
 Xfce-Help.org Support for your Xfce Desktop 
openDesktop.orgopenDesktop.org:   Applications   Artwork   Linux Distributions   Documents    Linux42.org    OpenSkillz.com   

- News . 
click to vote up

cults of personality redux

Published Nov 13 2012 via RSS

In a recent blog post, I slammed cults of personality in Free software communities. Some noted in the comments that this was not the only challenge we faced, and I completely agree. On the one hand, it's a bit of an odd observation to make: of course all complex results have complex sets of causal factors. Entire volumes have been written about this aspect of complex challenges, and a thread I've noticed in a number of pieces I've read is that the shear number of causal factors makes it hard for people to untangle and overcome the challenges presented. It's like we become distracted by too many topics and forget that you eat an elephant one bite at a time and not all at once; that it is OK to examine and address issues in a piecemeal fashion.

Others noted that there are some good affects that come from these cults of personality. This is also true. But it's sort of like saying, "Since I put $100 in the bank today, I will have $100 to spend." That may be true, but if you already spent $500 using your credit card .. no, you don't have $100 to spend. You owe $400. This is simple math that most people get intuitively, but when we apply it to systems analysis it often gets missed. Most things people do have some advantage (locally, individually, in the here-and-now, etc), and that is usually how they get entrenched in the first place. Full accounting, which means looking at the broad spectrum of results, is required to come to a full and proper sum, however. Some benefits are not good enough when there are large amounts of documented negatives.

Then there were people who said that they agreed with Linus. This is accurate, also. However, when looking at systems issues (which is what a cult of personality is: an attribute of a community, which is a system of social actors, in this case humans) the individual interaction is not the whole picture. I was certainly not asking if people agree with Linus, or if Linus is correct in any given statement. The issue is whether or not it is healthy to continuously and universally elevate a specific individual's opinions.

In case the answer is not clear to you, consider where this is actually practiced (dictatorial government, religion and pop culture media, to give three examples) and where it is not (the scientific method, participatory democracies) and then reflect on the empirical results each produces. One set puts humans Mars and works to ensure human rights are respected; the others give us things like tabloid magazines, inspires violent radicals and robs people of freedom in the name of expediency for the few.

I was really not interested in issues of personal agreement, but systemic affect. This is what I meant when I wrote, "I don't care what Linus says." I might agree with him, and yet my issue with putting that opinion on the front page of every F/OSS news site still stands.

Finally, some noted that there was perhaps a cult of personality around me and so I shouldn't throw stones, living as I am in a glass house. I truly hope no such thing actually exists, but if it did I would actively discourage it. I see myself as encouraging critical thought, attempting to inspire others to achieve more and organizing efforts where beneficial. In doing so, people may end up paying more attention to what I say than the average Free software contributor, but it is not (or so I hope) because of a blind belief in an abstract "Aaron" but due to the individual thoughts and experiences I share as I share them. I also hope that my attempts to spread awareness of the work of others, to highlight positive issues rather than only hipster-rant about negatives, etc. has a positive effect beyond my own standing in the community.

I see others in the Free software world doing this same kind of work as well, often better than I do it in fact, and that set of philosophers, organizers, leaders and generally motivated individuals are whom we ought to pay attention to in the areas where their efforts are applied. We would benefit by focusing some of the attention we lay on F/OSS "super stars" on those people.

That, really, was the entire plot point of that "cult of personality" blog post. :)

Ok, enough of that .. let's move on. (continued ...)

BackRead original postSend to a friend

Add comment

Add comment
Show all posts

 Who we are
More about us
Frequently Asked Questions
Updates on identi.ca
Updates on Twitter
Content RSS   
Events RSS   

Add App
Public API
About GTK-Apps.org
Legal Notice
Spreadshirt Shop
CafePress Shop
Sponsor us
Report Abuse

Copyright 2007-2016 GTK-Apps.org Team  
All rights reserved. GTK-Apps.org is not liable for any content or goods on this site.
All contributors are responsible for the lawfulness of their uploads.