Re: comment wrt. ESR's talk in Vienna

Autor: Denis HAVLIK (
Datum: Sam Jul 13 2002 - 23:46:40 CEST

On Sat, 13 Jul 2002, Eric S. Raymond wrote:

+ Franz Schaefer <>:
+ > i do not see how it is any useful to talk things like moral or solidarity
+ > with people who are proud to own guns...
+ That's an ignorant and bigoted remark. If you wish to correct your
+ ignorance, see for a
+ discussion of the moral philosophy of personal weapons.
+ > now if you are clever you might argue: when people act for other people then
+ > it is their selfish affection for them... to maximize the feeling of one
+ > self to see one self as being good judgment of ones one moral... ok now
+ > then you can stick the label "selfish" on everything.. but then this is not
+ > what is commonly understood with the term "selfish"...
+ Good. You do understand my position, then. That is exactly how I experience
+ "altruistic" behavior in myself and analyze it in others.
+ Yes, people commonly equate selfishness with its most negative, short-term, and
+ stupid manifestations. This is an error that prevents people from
+ understanding themselves. I see no reason I should participate in it.

Hi, all

The story of 'gift culture' is something I'm quite deeply involved with,
so let me add my 2 eurocents:

I agree with Raymond that there is a strong 'gift culture' in Linux,
where folks who give a lot are seen as more valuable than those who give
less. In fact, MandrakeSoft is building its whole busines model on this,
and I'm building something really nice in 'MandrakeClub', which wouldn't
work were it not for the gift culture right now: a 'service' where
folks can ask for new RPMs and other folks can build these RPMs.

As for 'Selfisnhes', for me 'selfishness' is not nessesarily a bad
thing. On the contrary, inteligent people may act 'altruistic' out of
'selfish' reasons, and there is nothing wrong to it. This idea is really
nothing new: Spinosa recognised this long time ago (and I bet he wasn't
the first one either), and big part of modern western philosophy is based
on his ideas...

So, let me show you both 'gift culture' and 'positive form of
selfishness' on work at MandrakeClub:

In case you never heard of MandrakeClub it's a pay-for "service" based on
the idea that folks actually WANT to give us money in order to produce
free software and documentation. In order to become a member you either
have to pay or to 'do' something nice - this 'money' and 'contributions'
are handled in more-or-less the same way, with the diference that
'contributors' get more in terms of recognition, and 'customers' more in
terms of 'privileges'.

Lions part of MandrakeClub income is simply used for paying Mandrake
developers, and some free-for-all services (MandrakeUser, MandrakeForum,
...), but there are some 'priviledges' for club members too, and the one
I'm building right now is a system where folks can cast votes on new RPMs
they would like to have, and other folks can make new rpms.

Both sides are quite happy when someone in-between takes care of matching
the boght sides, and administrating the whole stuff, 'askers' see it as a
privilege, 'volunteers' see it as a way to get a good name, make other
folks happy, and be generaly recognised as important members of the
comunity. So, in generally this 'service' is a typical win-win-win type of
situation, and it couldn't work at all without the 'gift culture' which
exists in Linux.

As for the 'selfishness', all sides act for selfish reasons, and yet I
don't see anything wrong with it:

- Payant club members want us to continue improving the distro, and they
are ready to pay for it. A possibility to vote on new RPMs is definitively
a nice additional 'service' for them.

- Volunteers also want to improve the distro, and they also like making
RPMs (writing documentation, ...), they want to get a good name
(which can help for geting job, impressing clients, etc.), they enjoy the
idea of having a 'special status', i.e. a recognition for doing something
good, etc.

- Finally, I (like many other Mandreke employees) like the idea of being
payed for the work which makes lot of people happy, and promotes some very
nice ideas, and I also like the recognition I'm getting for this work. You
can consider the folks working for MandrakeSoft as some kind of
'volunteers who even get payed for what they do', rather than 'underpayed
employees'. .-)

In short, we all act for some selfish motives, but nobody gets hurt in the
process, and all sides win in this game.

PS: as for the 'guns', we shouldn't forget that US and europe have a very
different history, very different attitude towards state, very differnt
ideas of how social problems should be solved, and consequently a very
different ideas about legality and merrits of personal weapons.

Dr. Denis Havlik     
Mandrakesoft           |||     e-mail:
Community             (@ @)    (private:
Our housekeeper doesn't do Windows and neither do WE! (L.P. Santuro)
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