[sclug] Microsoft recruiting in Reading Uni

James Wyper jrwyper at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Oct 26 21:00:31 UTC 2004

 --- Tom Chance <lists at tomchance.org.uk> wrote: 


> I'm not sure how you got this from what I wrote? I suggested "asking
> awkward 
> questions...to persuade students attending that they shouldn't work
> for 
> Microsoft, or just to raise concerns you might have with the
> company". I 
> didn't suggest you hassle the employee, disrupt the meeting or imply
> that 
> free software doesn't have a place in the world of business.

We'll have to agree to differ on the definition of hassle.  As someone
who's been involved in graduate recruitment, I personally would regard
the intrusion of someone who (a) had no intention of becoming an
employee, and (b) wished to make my job needlessly (from my
perspective) harder as both disruption and hassle.  Fortunately my
company is widely held to be a benign one, so the problem has never

> The spirit was in jest, but the idea wasn't. I suppose this depends
> on what 
> you're advocating - an alternative bit of technology, or an
> alternative 
> approach to so-called "intellectual property". If, like me, you're
> advocating 
> the latter (which is, incidentally, a position that, amongst other
> things, 
> concerns the "real" business world) then it makes perfect sense to
> raise 
> objections to Microsoft's approach to IP in a setting in which
> Microsoft is 
> actively recruiting students.

I can see that it makes perfect sense to you.  This depends on where
you are on the pragmatism <-> idealism <-> zealotry spectrum on open vs
closed source software.  Leaning more to the pragmatism / peaceful
coexistence side (NB - some of Linux's greatest successes come from
peaceful coexistence - look at Samba), and remembering that the
Microserf at the event is a fellow human being, I don't think it's fair
or appropriate to disrupt Microsoft's activities in this way.

I hope that, over time, open source software will prevail over closed. 
Microsoft, SCO and others have fought dirty to defend their positions,
and will continue to do so.  If we have to stoop to their level in
order to win (and the activity you suggest would be a step towards that
in the opinion of at least one member of the public - me), then as far
as I'm concerned, the game isn't worth the candle.

I note that you're not going to the meeting yourself, but I hope that
anyone on the list contemplating similar action thinks carefully about
the issues that we've both raised first.

> I've been involved in doing this sort of thing at all kinds of
> recruitment 
> talks, and it can be very effective. Students just never hear the
> other side 
> because nobody gives it to them. If you present it politely and
> clearly, 
> aside from some who are committed to their worldview, most will
> appreciate 
> it, and some might even reconsider signing up to the recruitment
> scheme in 
> question.

I still think it's a risky strategy both from the PR point of view and
because this sort of thing (no matter how politely and reasonably put)
can polarise people.  You might even get some people signing up with M$
out of sympathy if you do it well enough!


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