[Advocacy] Anybody there?

Antony Gelberg antony at wayforth.co.uk
Mon Oct 23 16:36:15 BST 2006


It's rather quiet out there, which doesn't bode well.  Still, if you 
want something done well...

Firstly, thanks to Alain for organising the meeting.  I agree 
whole-heartedly with his sentiments.

As geeks, we tend to be rather smug about the superiority of FLOSS in 
technical terms.  The problem is that the rest of the world couldn't 
give two hoots.  I'm not saying that we should sink to their level, but 
we have to understand how business decision-makers (don't) think.

They don't care about:
o /technical/ superiority
o open standards
o minutiae
o open source
o learning
o free software

They do care about:
o /feeling/ superior
o feeling comfortable
o branding
o sex
o other fun activities
o simplicity
o cool

We must accept that is impossible to tell people what they should care 
about.  The fact that I can see that open source is good does not mean 
that I can or should expect other people to.  I'm not saying that we 
should dumb down, but we have to understand how business decision-makers 
(don't) think, and then cater to that.  This is not trivial for most geeks.

We need to fight fire with fire and market properly.  We need an 
umbrella.  A /lightweight/ organisation, to which the various FLOSS 
organisations belong (OSC, UKUUG et al).  An organisation which exists 
simply to promote FLOSS, keeping it /simple/ all the time.

An organisation which can plant a seed of doubt without going into 
detail.  An organisation which gives us clout.  The distributed, 
communal nature of FLOSS is bad from a business POV.  We are far too 
fragmented at the moment, and quite frankly it looks rather Mickey 
Mouse.  We should be more aggressive.  That's not necessarily a bad 
thing if you're selling something with substance.  FLOSS is hardly snake 
oil.

It should have a non-dry name, preferably a made-up word.  It should 
have a contemporary logo.  Something with pastels.  They make people 
feel at ease.

I even have a plan.

1. We define the name, structure, mission statement, a /short/ list of 
objectives.
2. We approach various groups and ask them to chip in.
3. We campaign (both in lobbying terms and in marketing).

Thoughts?  Mainly relating to funding?  We're talking raising six 
figures if we want to make any sort of impression.  I don't think that 
the mooted £100K goes that far in /serious/ marketing.

If there is a nucleus of interest, I would certainly be up for taking 
this somewhere.

-- 
Antony Gelberg             | Open Source Consultancy
Wayforth                   | Software Development
020 7247 1011              | Website Design
http://www.wayforth.co.uk  | Peace-of-mind Support


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