The End of Info-Tech Slavery

Posted 4 May 2007 at 16:43 UTC by shlomif Share This

This is the year 2007. This is Shlomi Fish, a good hacker. And I have an announcement to make: I refuse to be an IT slave. Moreover: if you want to employ people like me (and you do), you should not give us only good conditions - you should give us exceptional ones. Otherwise, we'll probably leave, or be fired, much to your misfortune.

an Essay I wrote titled "The End of Info-Tech Slavery" directed for software developers and managers alike.

Licence is the Creative Commons Attribution Licence. Share and enjoy!

P.S.: I'm so glad Advogato is back on track. I've moved my blog to LiveJournal, but have decided to syndicate it here. (The comments are one killer feature that make me stay in LJ). Thanks for those who helped revamp it, and I hope you'll enjoy me announcing some of my relevant writings here. Stay cool!

Fired, posted 4 May 2007 at 17:57 UTC by pudge » (Master)

... if you want to employ people like me (and you do), you should not give us only good conditions - you should give us exceptional ones. Otherwise, we'll probably leave, or be fired, much to your misfortune.

FYI, businesses are not in the habit of firing employees they want, but employees they do NOT want. If they fire you, it is because they do NOT want you.


Hmm..., posted 4 May 2007 at 19:10 UTC by bi » (Master) on earth does this square with your Neo-Tech philosophy? Because I'm sure the idea of an employee making demands of his employer is totally anathema to laissez-faire capitalist philosophy.

Remember, laissez-faire capitalism says that an employer has the right to screw his employees in whatever way he wants. After all, if you don't like that, you have the right to apply to work in Fog Creek or Google, or just start your own company, no? If you can't succeed in doing any of these, well, tough.

Different strokes for different folks.

Erm, different strokes for different folks, posted 4 May 2007 at 19:20 UTC by bi » (Master)

They want Internet connectivity so they can surf the web and search for answers

No! No! No! The Internet is helpful, but it's also distracting. While we're in the business of quoting the greats (Gandhi, and Dijkstra), do you know that Donald Knuth only answers e-mail once in a blue moon?

Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration.

Just because Shlomi Fish thinks he's a great hacker doesn't mean that all great hackers are clones of Shlomi Fish.

Reply to pudge, posted 5 May 2007 at 07:07 UTC by shlomif » (Master)

pudge, I realise businesses may fire great hackers, because they believe that they are unsuitable for what they want. But this is because the business has prejudice: it doesn't want its employees to play computer games, it doesn't want them to work on open-source projects, etc. However, firing such employees is a bad decision for the business, because they are very rare, take time to become experienced with their particular niche, have a very exceptional character, etc.

For example, at my previous workplace, we had to get our driver working on FreeBSD again. So my co-worker (a kernel hacker extraordinaire, and a very nice guy) installed it and tried to use it. Being used to vim, he installed vim there and tried to use it, but it kept acting weirdly on his remote Linux terminals. I knew that we had to install ESR's termcap file, and I also knew that we had to compile it, but did not know how. So I got on Freenode, and asked people for how to do it, and someone on #perl answered me. It worked, and my co-worker was able to hack conveniently.

My co-worker did not know that it had anything to do with the termcap or about ESR's termcap. I heard about termcap through experience, and from being interested in such things. That's not the first time I saved the day at workplaces, or in other contexts.

Now tell me: will you as a manager would like to fire someone like me? Maybe it looks like a sound decision to the manager who makes it, but if you ask me it's an awful decision overall. If a business does not adapt his expectations to what great hackers are (and yes, they come in all shapes and sizes), then he may fire them, and it would be a bad thing for it to do.

Re: Reply to pudge, posted 5 May 2007 at 09:20 UTC by bi » (Master)

(Erm, if you read the vim(1) man page stuff about termcap and terminfo is right inside the vim(1) man page (just look for the word "terminal" and you can see it). So looking at the whole thing, do you think a manager should hire someone to play games and work on outside projects, so that the manager can tap his "experience" which turns out to be just a quick lookup away?

So shlomif, I think you need to give a better example than what you just gave.)

slavery of intelligence, posted 7 May 2007 at 02:57 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

for anyone wishing to reply here, who wishes to criticise shlomif for his article, hear this.

there is absolutely no right of any person or entity to enslave intelligence, in any way shape or form.

the past 200 years has seen the total usurpation of the concept of a corporation, which was intended to be a commission by the government to get a "body of people" (literal translation of the word corporation) together to achieve a specific task. for example, building a bridge, or a church.

those people would be paid well for their commission. by the government.

the usurpation of the concept of a corporation then resulted in the collapse of patronage, yeomanship and guilds, as the greed and control exerted through corporations began to gain the weight of law, bought by corrupt parties interested solely and exclusively in profit.

in particular, the decline in patronage, particularly in the sciences, resulted in the pursuit of science and creativity being far less rewarding.

as a stop-gap measure, the concept of "patents" was brought in, by law, in order to attempt to "protect" inventors and to try to bring about circumstances by which inventors could be "rewarded" for their efforts. whilst this was a laudable aim, it was soon usurped and corrupted again by corporations.

we currently suffer greatly in western society, as a direct result of the worship of capitalism and the cancerous effects of "the corporation".

everything that the corporation does is to take, take, take, take, take and never to give, for as long as the corporation lives.

and, like cancer, the corporation is consuming all resources, controlling all resources (from money through raw materials all the way through to intelligence and knowledge) and is killing the host - our western society, and with it our planet.

we are now pretty close to the point where the planet will violently reject the cancer that is destroying it.

so if you _want_ to defend or excuse the corporation, go ahead - but i will remember that you did so, and others reading this will remember that you did so.

Re: slavery of intelligence, posted 7 May 2007 at 04:29 UTC by bi » (Master)

lkcl, are you saying that when someone points out that the vim(1) man page mentions termcap, he's defending corporations? I'm all for stopping exploitation of intelligence, but let's at least get the facts straight.

Or are you saying that whoever's opposing "IT slavery" is obviously against capitalism? Because shlomif is himself a laissez-faire capitalist -- blame it on Ayn Rand and Neo-Tech. (Don't ask me how someone can be a supporter of both individualism and big businesses at the same time, but there you go.)

Re: slavery of intelligence, posted 7 May 2007 at 07:36 UTC by shlomif » (Master)

lkcl: it's hard to know what exactly you mean, but I'll try. I personally think that companies or corporations are not necessarily evil. Furthermore, Neo-Tech says it is neither "pro-Big Business" nor "anti-Big Business", but rather pro-Business, where business is the production of values. Governments, on the other hand, tend to host many evil people, and often are extremely destructive. Governments have killed over 100 million of their own people directly in the 20th century alone. How many did corporations kill?

At the moment in the Info-Tech industry, the "slavery" is harmful, unnatural, and temporary. As pointed in this article (which I link to) it is actually a very bad idea. Most other industries employ their workers for at most 40 hours/week, and you get the most productivity this way (and your workers are happy).

What I wanted to do in my article, is to instruct employees to demand such parameters of quality employment from their managers, and for employers to give such terms to their workers one by one. That way, it will eventually become common enough so great hackers can work at a great workplace.

As for patronage - I discussed it in this blog entry of mine.

Re: slavery of intelligence, posted 7 May 2007 at 13:31 UTC by bi » (Master)

Neo-Tech says it is neither "pro-Big Business" nor "anti-Big Business", but rather pro-Business [...]

What's the huge difference? Are big businesses not businesses?

How many did corporations kill?

Well, let's see.

But you've not answered this: why are you grumbling about the state of IT slavery, when it's jolly well within your right to apply to work at Fog Creek or Google? Nobody's taking this right away from you. If you think Fog Creek is a good place to work at, then work at Fog Creek. It's that simple (or so the libertarians say).

Talk about a failure to connect, posted 7 May 2007 at 17:44 UTC by bi » (Master)

Now, shlomif, you may think that this "laissez-faire capitalism" is just some lofty high-level thing which has nothing to do with your current predicament. But again, it has everything to do with it.

By the logic of laissez-faire, an employer has the right to screw his employees in whatever way he wants. You say that an employer "should give your developers the best tools and equipment money can buy". Well, is it a natural right that you to get the best tools? No? If it isn't a natural right that you get the best tools, then you're simply not entitled to get them, so stop griping and start working already.

And by the logic of laissez-faire, if you don't like your present employer, you have every right to apply to work at Fog Creek or Google or whatever company you're praising to the high skies. You said "we'll probably leave", so why not follow up on your threat and go work at Fog Creek already? If you can't or won't follow up on your threat, then that's your problem, not your manager's. Again, why are you griping?

If you refuse to look critically at the idea of laissez-faire -- which you've maintained to be true for more than a decade -- then you're not being "rational" at all, and you're not helping yourself. Now is a good chance for you to take a good hard look at your laissez-faire philosophy in the light of your current situation. As I explained, the two are connected. Make the connection now.

It may look like slavery, but...., posted 7 May 2007 at 18:12 UTC by nymia » (Master)

Interesting article, I did read go over it and spent time reading the entire article.

I'd like comment about your view of IT slavery in the sense that you seem to imply there is slavery in IT, or it is just a metaphor or simile that you're using as way of embelishing your article. At any rate, I think you got my attention.

To clarify the point, this thing you claim about slavery, for a certain materialist culture who value such a thing called Work Ethic, working can be considered sacred that those who subscribe to this tenet have committed so much of their life into it, at the expense of their family and kids. Is that a form of slavery?

What about a culture who believes work is sacred one has to die by committing suicide if they fail to complete a mission? That is probably way beyond slavery, don't ya think?

Anyway, I'm just trying to throw you off with the intention of making you clarify those points. Pardon me if I this sounded like a Cross-Ex as I don't mean to express it like that. IANAL, just pretending to be one.

In regards to the slavery bit, posted 7 May 2007 at 19:28 UTC by zanee » (Journeyer)

The whole title doesn't necessarily appeal to me after reading the essay. Slavery dictates that one is being enslaved against their own will. This is clearly not so in regards to labor laws (at least here in the US; in other countries I would have to tend to agree that there are problems but surely it's not limited to one segment or industry, far less the IT segment). If one doesn't find their current situation amicable. They are quite welcome to leave said situation; at anytime. This may or may not be easy depending on the person and commitments they may or may not have. However, if they stay, it'll be based on their own volition.

The rest of the essay I tend to agree with. Providing a healthy work environment, tools and general amenities to employees is always a good thing as those things tend to make me productive. Referring a potential employer to the essay? Unlikely. Sure, I'd like to think that my employer has my best interest at heart. It's not something i'm going to necessarily go out of my way to remind them of though. If you have to tell or remind someone that you're a commodity, it's time to move on. An employer/employee relationship is just that; a working relationship. Especially considering you'll be spending a full half of your waking day at work or 33% of your full day. When it's not working out, better to severe ties and find a new job. Surely before such a move you do your best to work things out, after that though? Move on.

"Slavery" in IT, posted 7 May 2007 at 19:48 UTC by shlomif » (Master)

I didn't mean that there's slavery in the sense of having to do work without being able to quit or not getting paid. (Which is how slavery is defined). However, in Israel the term "The High-Tech Slavery" (or "Avduth Ha'Hay-Tek" - עבדות ההי-טק), or "High Tech Slave" is relatively common to refer to someone who works for many hours and/or is taking a lot of abuse. It's not actual slavery, but the term "wage slave" is also prevalent in English.

Hope it helps.

too many points to answer quickly, posted 8 May 2007 at 08:15 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

shlomif, bi, zanee: i'm at work - i get very little time to answer things at the moment, so i'm deliberately picking up on _one_ of the points made, and it's this:

"how many people did corporations kill?"

i believe that this question hides a much more important and fundamental question, which is this:

"how many people did corporations enslave and/or make terribly unhappy (and horrifically unfulfilling lives)?"

i invite you - bi and others - to consider debating _this_ question.

i'll come back in a couple of days to see whether you take up the challenge :)

the will of the slave, posted 8 May 2007 at 19:52 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

zanee, the will of the slave is irrelevant, as if you believe that the slave somehow has some say in the matter.

the _system_ is what is at fault (whether it be physical slavery or intellectual slavery or wage slavery) and it has nothing to do with the "will" of that which is being enslaved.

many slaves who served their masters were, or are, in fact HAPPY to be "owned", which says more about their view on life than it does about slavery.

the key point for us, as programmers, is that contracting, when it first came about, used to be very popular and profitable, because a contractor would own their own intellectual property, and so would come with a library of several years or even decades of experience which they could apply to the task at hand.

now, however, with the prevalence of incredibly onerous contracts as a direct consequence of cancerations' pathological desire to enslave intelligence as part of a larger pathological desire to maximise profits, contracts are actually no better than employment.

to the extent that the IRS in the UK now has special provisions to determine when a contractor is effectively an employee, and to penalise the contractor with taxes and fines that can take anything around 80% of their income.

coming back to the point: the entire system of earning money whether it be as contractors or as employees is so riddled with cancerism that it is nearly impossible to _not_ be enslaved.

if we want to earn money, we have to "Akkcepttt The SySss-Temmm". and "The System" is "slavery".

all i can say is: thank god for free software, which is our last hope to turn things around and transform corporations into service industries instead of boxed-product merchants.

to any readers i apologise for not being entirely coherent, above: there are hints of what i wanted to say in there but i am currently short on available time to respond here on advogato as i am currently preoccupied: i'm therefore writing this rather late but didn't want to not put _anything_ down and so it is of slightly less coherent babbling quality than usual, if that's at all possible for me to do, for which i apologise.

Re: the will of the slave, posted 8 May 2007 at 21:29 UTC by zanee » (Journeyer)

many slaves who served their masters were, or are, in fact HAPPY to be "owned", which says more about their view on life than it does about slavery.

When given a choice that doesn't result in the end of life. There is no slavery. Do you want to work here? Do you want to follow these rules? You have a choice. Now, maybe what you have to choose from are not the best choices. There still remains a choice. When one eliminates choice all together then you begin to have a system of slavery.

I'm in full agreement that the system is what is at fault, but the system can be changed if enough persons make a choice. It's the Matrix conundrum, red or green pill? In or out of the system; you have a choice.

Sadly for most people the only way to survive is to have money, to buy food, to buy shelter. One lives by these rules because they are the standard defacto. They will remain so until someone comes along and asks the question if it has to be that way? This is how most movements are started; the Free Software Movement came about from an idea. That's the question RMS asked. Do we have to pay for software? Do I have to pay for a printer driver? He challenged a system, a model, with that one idea that software should be free.

That idea of choice and new questions can be fathered by anyone with the courage and voice to do so. The problem is that many people don't have the courage and/or lack the voice. The simple fact is that it only takes one. Everything starts with an idea. So, should I feel bad that information technology contractors can barely make a living when lawyers, doctors and other professions have all banded together to define what, when and how they will work?

The idea of Info-Tech "Slavery" is a cowardly ideal that somehow people in this industry and being forced to work 14-15 hour days and are not being paid for it! It's sadly untrue.

shlomif: I understand your meaning but I also feel that if one wishes to merely "subsist" it's a concious decision on their part to do so; they've made the choice. If enough people decided they just didn't want to "subsist"; then there would be laws that address such conditions. In-fact it's primarily how labor laws came to pass here in the US.

Re: the will of the slave, posted 9 May 2007 at 04:07 UTC by bi » (Master)


If enough people decided they just didn't want to "subsist"; then there would be laws that address such conditions. In-fact it's primarily how labor laws came to pass here in the US.
Except, this smacks of government fiat, which is a no-no according to shlomif's laissez-faire philosophy. Governments should never, ever be allowed to enact any labour laws which give workers good working conditions -- because Governments Kill A Lot of People. Yeah, great logic.

(Never mind that shlomif's current problems aren't caused by governments killing people. When companies don't give their workers the best equipment money can buy, is it because of "Government", or is it because some private bosses are simply cheapskate? I think we know the answer to this one.)


i invite you - bi and others - to consider debating _this_ question.
I can accept that invitation, but I think shlomif doesn't want to debate this question or expose his laissez-faireism to any sort of scrutiny. Never let the facts get in the way of a nice-sounding philosophy!

Sigh, posted 9 May 2007 at 04:24 UTC by ncm » (Master)

For the record, I don't (despite his assertion) want to employ people like Shlomi. Nothing personal, mind you; I just want the record straight.

That, and I find libertarians hilarious. At a distance.

Was there a connection..., posted 9 May 2007 at 06:40 UTC by nymia » (Master)

Just wondering maybe the article you wrote was some sort of response to a past experience? From there, I can now see the statements you wrote with regards to (a) how employers treat employees and (b) how the gov't can be oppressive to a group of people.

Which brings me to the next statement I'd like to make and maybe hope that I'd be gentle with this one. To me, the article is more like a passage from Job. It just sounded like Job, or maybe I am wrong in how it came across.

Anyway, the most important part of my message is to take it easy. Don't stress too much about employers because they do like to get their invested resources return some profit. Although no two employers are alike.

You will probably understand them better when you get a chance to work closely with them. Some of which may be the employers fault. Yeah! it's their fault which they try to cover it up with smarts, because (1) they thought the employee had such-and-such skills written on paper, and it turned-out to be smoke--nothing nada nunca nulla mafi nahihe zilch, (2) there was no connection at the personality level; maybe that is too subjective but if you can't connect at the level your employer expects you to connect, then chances are, you may be on your way out.

I don't mean to say it was your fault because of (1) and (2). Maybe they found someone better in some country in Europe or Asia where he will work remotely. Ooops, sorry that was rude, I didn't mean it that way. But you get my point.

And I don't want to side with employers, they are mean, selfish, greedy ...

and smart ...

and good looking ...

and they drive cool cars ...

Well, take it easy, and don't stress.

positive vs negative, posted 11 May 2007 at 12:05 UTC by lkcl » (Master)



question for you.

what _do_ you want from an employer?

have you considered writing a contract which would be acceptable to you?

positive is much better than negative...

Re: positive vs negative, posted 11 May 2007 at 15:40 UTC by shlomif » (Master)

lkcl: I believe I said it in my article. I find the entire positive vs. negative point moot. For example Neo-Tech prides itself in the fact that it is an idea system that tells the practicioner how to liquidate negatives, rather than instill "positives". Since most people are good by nature, you can guide them to a better behaviour by telling them what they should avoid doing, rather than what to do.

But for your question:

  1. I would like to know why I didn't get the job, and other such honesty factors. I'd like to know when I did something right and when I did something wrong.
  2. I'd like to have the best tools and conditions possible. I don't want a computer with a mere CD player, or a very small hard disk. (Like I mentioned). The money that was "saved" on good tools will be wasted on lost time, lost customers, lots of frustration, etc.
  3. I'd like to be able to arrive at the workplace when I want and leave when I want, except for isolated things like having to keep a deadline, or satisfying a customer. I have enough responsibility to work enough, and don't need to satisfy the HR department.
  4. I want to work on exciting and interesting tasks, not boring ones.
  5. I want to work with technologies that I like to work with, and that I can rely on to work properly, or be able to fix myself (i.e: open-source).
  6. I wish to be told why something needs to be done, how long before it should be finished, and to be asked if it's a good idea.

That's just off the top of my head. Hope it helps.

Re: positive vs negative, posted 11 May 2007 at 16:33 UTC by bi » (Master)

Since most people are good by nature, you can guide them to a better behaviour by telling them what they should avoid doing, rather than what to do.

(Except, of course, "Government". There's no way to guide the people in "Government" towards better behaviour, and the only way to fix a bad government is to get rid of it -- even though the people in government are also people, these people are different from, well, people. And that's because Governments Kill A Lot of People.)

I'd like to know when I did something right and when I did something wrong.

So can you, for the love of all that's lovable, tell me why you're refusing to address my (and ncm's) points?

charter for software engineering, posted 14 May 2007 at 11:30 UTC by lkcl » (Master)


i've been thinking of advocating a proper software architecture "charter" - a society where you can actually get a qualification and where the people whom are then employed will be employed specifically to ensure that certain practices are followed.

... funnily enough, exactly as you describe :)

software development is the only "engineering" branch IN THE WORLD which has no formality behind it.

perhaps because it is so young.

what do you think?

challenges, posted 14 May 2007 at 11:32 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

bi - please: shlomif has been thinking about this for some time. let him me: your questions will sink in, they will make him think some more.

give him some time and he will come back with answers, another day, or with another article.

i implore you: be content that you've given him some feedback and things to consider.

About "bi", posted 17 May 2007 at 10:58 UTC by shlomif » (Master)

lkcl: I have no intention of replying to anything bi said. That's because bi (formerly tk) is:

  1. An idiot. That's the modern word for a fool. He is very intelligent, but makes a very bad use of his intelligence. His reasoning tend to be very bad, and he makes bad use of it
  2. Mentally disturbed. For example, he nullified all his tk blog entries, and in one entry (now deleted), told me to "just die".
  3. He seems to have a grudge against me, and tends to stalk me. I already told him I don't want to hear anything from him on my LiveJournal blog, and he thankfully accepted this.
  4. He believes Neo-Tech is an evil cult, and yet I'm not convinced that it is, despite everything that he says so.

So, I'm trying to avoid replying to what he says here because it's not a good idea to argue with a fool, because observers may not tell the difference. I hope I wasn't too blunt here, but this is what I think of him for prosperity.

Re: About "bi", posted 18 May 2007 at 10:35 UTC by bi » (Master)

shlomif, then why aren't you replying to ncm's points either? Do you also think that ncm -- the lead developer of libstdc++ -- is an idiot, a mentally disturbed person, and a stalker besides? If so, let's hear about it.

it's not a good idea to argue with a fool, because observers may not tell the difference.

Well, from the comments above, it's clear that the "observers" think that your "I refuse to be an IT slave" statement is just a cowardly gripe, and you should just cut it out and try something more useful.

Because of this -- and because your criticisms against myself amount to nothing more than vague insinuations of stupidity and wrongdoing -- I don't think I need to defend my words any further.

Anyway, at the end of the day, it's your job, and your life. If you think your own interests are best served by making empty "I'll leave" threats which everyone knows you won't follow up on, then so be it.

Verbum Lexi, posted 18 May 2007 at 19:39 UTC by nymia » (Master)

Shlomi, this may sound a little bit 'tort-ish' but if you think or feel there is something committed like trespass, assault, battery or similar to defamation; as in your online persona was harmed and we are the cause. Let us know about it right away. Because there is such a thing called a trigger-happy lawyer who might look into this in the near future and probably make a big fuzz about it. Who knows, the Supremes might entertain such frivolous suits that it may end up in a civil court.

Let us know if we have committed trespass, OK? And we'll back-out right away.

Otherwise, I'm going to assume you're having fun and complicit to the idea of moving this thread forward. And if you are, why not go along and smack them, prove to them how philosophically sharp you are. Go head-to-head against those who attack Neo-Tech in this thread; defend your turf, man.

By saying this, I'm now absolved of all liabilities attached here.


(Sorry, I had to state that. I come from a family of lawyers. Although IANAL. You just gotta [love/hate] them!)

For the record, posted 22 May 2007 at 19:28 UTC by ncm » (Master)

For the record, again... I don't expect any reply to my "points", whatever they are supposed to be. Also, I wish bi and shlomi would both calm down and write code. If you write foolish code, the worst that will happen is it won't work, and then you get a chance to fix it. With practice, you might learn to write better code.

That is all.

abdication of responsibility...., posted 23 May 2007 at 06:36 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

the purpose of lawyers is to help people abdicate responsibility for their lives, actions and decisions.

shlomif, therefore, with the greatest of respect i ding you round the ear for reacting to bi formerly known as tk when you should know better deep breath: should such a trigger-happy (and probably no-win-no-fee) lawyer come your way, you know what to do...

... sling him out on his ear with a rocket up his backside, on a long enough fuse so that he can run away screaming far enough from your house before it goes bang so that *you* don't end up covered in shit.

except of course if he is from nymia's family, in which case you get _him_ to sling them out on their ear, and choose the size of the rocket :)

think first, code second, posted 23 May 2007 at 06:41 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

ncm - i saw somewhere that a very successful businessman only hired english major graduates in the U.S. rather than compsci graduates, because their ability to comprehend and articulate made the english graduates far better programmers, once trained.

the ability to communicate is far more important than the ability to 'write code'.

writing code is merely an unambiguous and detailed expression of concepts.

if you cannot understand the concepts, nor can you develop darwinian-like testing methodologies which substitute repeated testing for absolute understanding, then no amount of code writing is going to do it.

... oh - i re-read what you wrote, a second and third time, and... well... actually, you said pretty much exactly what i just wrote, ha ha :)

i should read and understand more, ha ha :)

ego, posted 23 May 2007 at 06:48 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

dear tk / bi,

i didn't realise that you were formerly tk - but now i understand the context.

over the years, since the introduction of advogato, you've posted a _lot_ of responses, and i've had to balance them each time when they have been responses to my articles, because they were quite _major_ reactions to what was being said through me.

can i possibly ask you to look at this - and to consider what it is that causes you to react so vehemently, especially in what you _know_ to be a public forum?

what is it that you want to achieve, by making such posts?

and - in particular - do you believe that your posts are in the interests of, and further the goals of, the free software community, of which you are a part, and which you represent?

think about it, dear bi.

Replies, posted 23 May 2007 at 07:25 UTC by bi » (Master)


#include <stdio.h>

int main()
  for (;;)
    puts("Ich bin Übermensch!!!!!!!!\n");
  return 0;


Eh, since when did the burden of proof suddenly shift to me? shlomif is the one who started out with his moral grandstanding act -- the onus is on him to show that his actions in his opening post actually further the goals of the free software community (and to date, he's not shown that).

bi vs tk, posted 23 May 2007 at 13:40 UTC by robogato » (Master)

bi, If the tk account is no longer used, would you like me to delete it?

Foolish code, posted 23 May 2007 at 20:51 UTC by ncm » (Master)

I wrote, "If you write foolish code, the worst that will happen is it won't work,".

That is, unless you post it.

Obviously Shlomi can't "prove" anything. It's even more foolish to demand that than to have posted the article in the first place.

burden of proof, posted 24 May 2007 at 14:42 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

bi, let me summarise what you've just said:

'eh? you tell me i have implicit responsibilities as a free software advocate? i'm happy playing tit-for-tat "he started it" with shlomif, and he started it by making a negative statement that made me howl loudly and vocally, recorded forever on this forum, with self-righteous indignation'


the _correct_ response, i believe, to shlomif, i will do in another post.

employment contract / charter, posted 24 May 2007 at 15:02 UTC by lkcl » (Master)


i would like you to consider this question for me.

would you be willing (for some really _really_ important reasons that i can't go into right now) to set down some things that you WOULD like to see in an employment contract, based on your experience of seeing what happens when such things AREN'T there?

for example - i'll start the ball rolling.

as a free software developer, i would like to see this sort of thing in a contract:

"the contractee shall not place any implicit or explicit responsibility onto the shoulders of the contractor without also giving them the authority to act and resolve matters as requested. failure to provide the necessary authority consitutes an immediate breach of contract and the resolution and dispute process, and ultimately the penalty process against the contractee, will be initiated".

"the contractee shall not, under any circumstances, use stress as a motivational force to achieve results, nor shall they expose the contractee to stress of any kind, including but not limited to emotional, physical or psychological stress. in return, the contractor shall likewise not bring stress or cause stress to occur at the environment where the contract is being fulfilled, or in any context related to the fulfilment of the contract."

"on the basis that the health of the contractor is, as with all humans, inescapably linked to happiness, the contractee shall respect the contractor's right to enjoy their work, and shall be responsible for providing an environment in which the contractor can enjoy working. if the contractor becomes aware of anything that adversely affects the contractor's ability to enjoy their work (including but not limited to stress or other unresolved and unsustainable issues) then it is the duty of the contractor to inform the contractee, and it is the duty of the contractee to take responsibility for dealing with the matter. in return, the contractor agrees to take personal responsibility for and keep separate matters unrelated to the fulfilment of the contract; the contractor agrees TO enjoy doing and completing the contract; the contractor also agrees never to abuse this clause by falsely claiming that an arbitrary and unrelated matter to the contract ... " i'm getting a bit lost here... this needs work.

typically this latter sentence is an explicit definition of 'maintain a professional attitude' - but it is rather more than that: it's "both parties agree to take a professional attitude towards *enjoying* completing the contract, and also agree to either deal with or leave aside personal issues unrelated to the fulfilment of the contract".

something like that....

Re: burden of proof, posted 24 May 2007 at 18:47 UTC by bi » (Master)

ncm: (Well, maybe it is foolish, but I guess it's no more foolish than simply mocking shlomif for being a libertarian -- instead of, say, actually discussing what's wrong with his libertarian arguments. (And besides, I'm not sure you wouldn't miss the opportunity to mock his libertarianism if I didn't point out that he's a laissez-faireist.))


'eh? you tell me i have implicit responsibilities as a free software advocate? [...]'

For the record: I'm not a "free software advocate", at least not in the sense of a someone who goes around declaring holy jihad against everything that's not free software.

I'm a free software user and a free software writer, but that's about it -- I use Linux, and I write free software, and I'm happy if people use my free software, but I don't go out of my way to shove Linux or my stuff into other people's faces.

I don't claim to speak for The Free Software Community, or Our Tribe, or whatever it's supposed to be called. And I refuse to heed those wiseguys who go around screaming treason when I don't fulfil my "implicit responsibilities" (= whatever hobbyhorses the wiseguys are riding on at the moment). Free software is about freedom; it's not about loyalty games.

would you be willing [...] to set down some things that you WOULD like to see in an employment contract [...]

Now that's a good idea. But what do you do if no employer wants to hire people according to this contract? What do you do? That's the real question.

that's fine, posted 25 May 2007 at 07:28 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

[rest of your reply read, bi, but left as it stands - i mention this so as you don't think i've ignored you, ok?]

But what do you do if no employer wants to hire people according to this contract? What do you do?

breathe a sigh of relief that you're not involved!!

free software has, in that special japanese way, basically won. (that special japanese way says that if you keep going with the current effort you're on, you juuust reached the point where you will get over the hill. you're not at the top of the hill YET so don't stop keeping up the current effort, but you're GOING to get there!)

the question is, therefore, what ELSE do we tackle, that has to be 'free'. and this question that shlomif has raised is very important: how to teach employers and contractors to face what will become the new reality of contracting - which, by the way, USED to be the OLD way of contracting, back when 'Guilds' and 'Craftsmen' were respected.

it USED to be the case that there was the concept of 'services', and craftsmen would learn a trade, and that was their life, and their livelihood, and they were *respected* for it, and everyone understood that.

then came along the abortional cancerous concept of the corporation, with its pathological desire to make money money money money money take take take take and the means to abdicate responsibility for looking after actual people behind a 'fake' person which has "legal status" as a person.

even as recently as fifteen years ago it used to be the case that software contractors came with a library of code which they themselves owned (a craftsman's 'tools of the trade', which, like true craftsmen, theey had often made themselves)

these contractors were in some cases specifically hired for their expertise, over-and-above being employees, because of their speciality.

now, contractors are actually no better off than being employees, to the extend where in the UK the Inland Revenue actively pursues contractors AS employees if they've been contracting for only one company for a prolonged period of time.

and the penalties, fines and taxes imposed can take as much as EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT of money earned.

i've mentioned these things before, already, but in this context i think it's important to say them again.

so our responsibility, as free software advocates, users, developers, writers and madmen is to bring people the benefit of our collective experience into a cohesive set of documents and procedures which can set a clear example and a protective standard that others can follow.

IF they choose to.

so, bi, your experiences as a free software user and writer are just as important, because you, like everyone else who is involved in any way with free software, are a sample of one against which to compare the proposed standards and procedures.

A survey from 2002, posted 2 Jun 2007 at 14:48 UTC by bi » (Master)

This seems useful and relevant.

the louie meme..., posted 11 Jun 2007 at 09:02 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

louie's relevant diary entry


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