[Scottish] Re: News Letter April 08

Andrew Back andy at smokebelch.org
Mon Apr 14 12:37:05 BST 2008


Let me just say that I found the tone of your E-mail insulting, and 
in part a needless case of "my Dad's bigger than your Dad" and somewhat 
pompous. And as such a terrible attempt at moving things forward. Was 
this really the intention? Or was it a wind-up/trolling? I'm really not 
sure. It's not April 1st is it?

On Mon, 14 Apr 2008, Dan Shearer wrote:

> On Sat, Apr 12, 2008 at 11:33:38PM +0100, Willie Fleming wrote:
>> I'd be very interested to hear what plans Dan Shearer has for the domain.
> Three domains actually: scotlug.{com,org,net}
> When I arrived in Scotland I wanted to find out who did FLOSS here. Like
> many others, I found the most obvious thing online was Scotlug. It also
> seemed to me the Linux community in this country was still working out
> what it wanted to be. I thought it was likely that the most obvious
> tag/name/brand for FLOSS in Scotland, Scotlug, would end up becoming
> more important over time. So I got the domains before some other
> sector[1] did.

Very thoughtful of you. Was this done in concert with any Scotlug folks or 
as purely a stealth action? Just curious.

> In the last three years the Scottish FLOSS community has started to
> define itself. Small (<40 people) events happen quite often in various
> cities now; two mid-sized development conferences have been hosted
> (Akademy in Glasgow and Debconf in Edinburgh); the launch speech for
> GPLv3 was given in Scotland by its author; there is now an OSS category
> in the annual Scottish Software Awards; MSPs are being directly involved
> in FLOSS issues. I could go on. All very encouraging.

I'd say Scotlug meeting attendance is pretty damn healthy and has been 
whenever I've attended over the last 7 (with admittedly big gaps) or so 
years. I spoke with someone at the UKUUG Spring Conference who is 
involved with the Birmingham LUG, and sounds like they get a turn-out a 
1/3 to 1/2 the size of what we tend to, and I don't think this is 
uncommon for many other English LUGs. And this is surprising for 
Birmingham given it's the UK's 2nd largest city. So, maybe England has 
more to gain from your open source community advice.

And you really can't measure Scotland's FLOSS community by LUG attendance. 
There are many other initiatives both community and commercial. For 
example there is a sizeable artist community working with FLOSS, as 
visibly demonstrated by Glasgow's Machinista festival some 3+ years ago. 
Or for commercial interests how about The Linux Centre in Ness (Isle of Lewis).

I appreciate that this might not all add up to the figures you get in 
Australia. But let us not forget that Scotland is somewhat smaller in 
terms of population.

> These days I think the happenstance Scotlug brand is stronger than it
> was. The website has regular activity and is more clearly a jumping-off
> place for finding your local LUG. So I think Willie is exactly right,
> now's a good time to think about what's next for free software
> representation in Scotland. I've written up some specific thoughts for
> Scotlug including what we can do with the domains at
> http://www.scotlug.org.uk/wiki/Improving_the_Scottish_Linux_Users_Group.
> Then I discovered the wiki is locked and I can't remember what I do to
> unock it. Please can someone do the necessary again, thanks :-)

It must be rewarding to see the fruit of your labour and how the community 
here has benefited from Australia's open source wisdom.

> In the meantime, since people have been talking about the idea of an
> umbrella organisation, here's a case study I think is relevant:
> Australia.  A decade ago the Australian FLOSS community was in an
> analogous position to what we have in Scotland today. How has it turned
> out?
> In Australia there are many LUGs with wildly different structures and
> styles. There is also a peripatetic conference, linux.conf.au, which has
> gradually become a central brand[2] and is looked after by a very
> light-touch central group called Linux Australia[3] which is constituted
> so that pretty much everything happens electronically. It is Linux
> Australia that awards the conference to a bid team from a city/LUG each
> year, and who looks legit and long-term enough that large companies feel
> comfortable handing over sponsorship cash year after year. It is Linux
> Australia that is the notional official badge behind involvement in
> national discussions about IP legislation, no matter who the particular
> bods are who turn up to explain the world to MPs. It is Linux Australia
> that decided to expand the community by defining New Zealand (4 hours
> flying time away) as "Australia" so linux.conf.au could be held there,
> and BSD as a kind of Linux with respect to linux.con.au..  But the
> LUGs[4] are where the life is, and Linux Australia is dedicated to them.

Australia really does sound like the FLOSS promised land. With a 
utopia of the commons so close to hand I'm surprised RMS et al haven't 
taken up residence there themselves. And do wonder why you chose to 
take residence here yourself, in what is by your account a FLOSS-retarded 
nation that can only dream of becoming like your mighty homeland.



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