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Open Source Software Ubuntu Linux

Tribalism Is the Enemy Within, Says Shuttleworth 655

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
climenole points out a post from Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth about internal strife in the free software community. He wrote, "Tribalism is when one group of people start to think people from another group are 'wrong by default.' It's the great-granddaddy of racism and sexism. And the most dangerous kind of tribalism is completely invisible: it has nothing to do with someone's 'birth tribe' and everything to do with their affiliations: where they work, which sports team they support, which Linux distribution they love. ... Right now, for a number of reasons, there is a fever pitch of tribalism in plain sight in the free software world. It's sad. It's not constructive. It's ultimately going to be embarrassing for the people involved, because the Internet doesn't forget. It's certainly not helping us lift free software to the forefront of public expectations of what software can be."
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Tribalism Is the Enemy Within, Says Shuttleworth

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  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday July 30, 2010 @03:59PM (#33088054)
    The public expectations of software are not particularly rigorous -- it shouldn't crash too often, it should look moderately pretty, and it should get them on the web. Done, done, and done. Can we go back to arguing and tribalism now?
  • Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dward90 (1813520) on Friday July 30, 2010 @03:59PM (#33088074)
    "Tribalism is when one group of people start to think people from another group are 'wrong by default.'"

    This is 90% of what makes the American government unworkable.
    • Re:Politics (Score:5, Funny)

      by enderjsv (1128541) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:06PM (#33088250)
      And the other 20% is stupidity.
    • Re:Politics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:17PM (#33088464) Journal

      As soon as you enter Congress, you are no longer allowed to belong to any party. You become one single whole group, with no allegiances to anything but your own personal beliefs, your voters back home, and the Law.

      If that works, extend it to the Member State Parliaments too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Toonol (1057698)
        My suggestion would be to not allow any mention of political parties on election ballots. It's easy to implement, almost trivial, but would get rid of a LOT of ridiculous, party-line voting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)

      This is 90% of what makes the American government unworkable.

      yeah.. All those congressmen are crooks. ... Except mine.. he's okay..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Tribalism is not just what makes large software projects difficult. It is quite literally the cause of almost all of mankind's problems. Everything, from street corner graffiti to civilization threatening global warming can be tracked back to tribalism.

  • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:01PM (#33088136)
    If you can figure out how to convince people to reject tribalism and operate in a completely rational manner then promoting free and open software will end up being small potatoes, you've probably got a nobel prize waiting for you.
    • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:08PM (#33088298) Homepage Journal
      ...Or a bullet....
      • by strikethree (811449) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @02:44AM (#33093496) Journal

        "...Or a bullet...."

        This. I used up all of my mod points yesterday, but this is the real issue. Some people are just selfish and will twist things to their own benefit, even if the cost is greater to the other person or people. People get killed over $5 during a mugging. Surely any rational actor would think that $5 is not worth the other guys life or the risk of getting thrown in prison... and yet it still happens.

        A bullet.

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:14PM (#33088418) Journal

      If you can figure out how to convince people to reject tribalism and operate in a completely rational manner

      I've found the best method is to involve family. I've known people who were racist but once their brother or sister was dating someone of that race, they broadened their view a little bit. It's usually a slow process, but it helps them get past skin colour once they get to know the individual personally. Which tends to happen at a lot of family functions.

      So - Mister Shuttleworth, if you can get your sleek and graceful Ubuntu women to date some strong and burly Red hat men, you'll find this kind of tribalism slowly disappear.

  • Crap (Score:2, Funny)

    by overshoot (39700)
    Shuttleworth again? Who cares what he thinks? Debian weenies are bad enough, and Ubuntu isn't even real Debian.

    Ignore him.

  • Typical. (Score:5, Funny)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@@@praecantator...com> on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:02PM (#33088152) Homepage

    Just the sort of intellectual whining I'd expect from an Ubunt-dude.

  • Right now, for a number of reasons, there is a fever pitch of tribalism in plain sight in the free software world.

    I guess I hadn't noticed. What's he going on about?

  • ...or, rather, people who design and perpetrate software like:

      - networkmanager
      - dbus
      - gconf & gnome
      - pulseaudio
      - mono
      - ...

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:11PM (#33088356) Journal

    ST vs. Amiga

    Mac vs. Amiga

    Mac vs. IBM PC

    Windows vs. Linux

    Republicans vs. Democrats

    Racists (R) vs. Racists (D)

  • Tribalism? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ... there is a fever pitch of tribalism in plain sight in the free software world.

    It's called Open Source. Get it right!

  • by c0l0 (826165) * on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:14PM (#33088406) Homepage

    Strange how he speaks of "lifting Free Software to the forefront", whilst all he's _really_ doing is trying to lift Ubuntu to the forefront.

    Mr. Shuttleworth apparently knows that "the internet doesn't forget", yet he (I assume it was him who heralded the changes made) chose to tone down the role of Free (as in freedom) Software in the "Ubuntu Promise" over the years in a very silent yet continuous manner, and led Ubuntu to act against some of the principles of the early (think 2004 to 2006 or so) days of the project; principles that I happen to value. Getting into bed with vendors of proprietary software in a way that doesn't benefit others in the Free Software eco-system is something I despise, for example: Canonical is actually getting proprietary AMD/ATI graphics drivers before anyone else gets them, probably under NDA or whatnot. I also don't like their "partner"-repository that contains nothing but proprietary software, and is advertised and presented as a Really Great Thing(tm), not as a sometimes (probably) necessary evil. I don't like how Ubuntu's more and more about doing "their thing" without contributing back to the upstream projects they base their product on, and how they actually try to differentiate themselves from their competitors by making technically bad decisions in the wake of all this (think client-side window decorations, and putting window controls to the left because of that - just doesn't make any sense to me). There were many other occasions on which Mr. Shuttleworth and Ubuntu chose to somehow, somewhat upset parts of the Free Software community, either by what they stated or what they did. I just don't think Mr. Shuttleworth is entitled to put Ubuntu under the banner of Free Software, at least not as it stands today. If someone on identi.ca, or whereever else, is arguing against Ubuntu, it's just that: someone arguing against Ubuntu. It's certainly not an attack on Free Software.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bruce Perens (3872)

      Unfortunately, he's essentially killed the Debian project, and the rest of Free Software is not far behind as we realize the futility of making ourselves his unpaid employees. I have a large product I'm working on, originally intended to be Open Source licensed. I am now thinking about a commercial-distribution-hostile license, just to make sure that community comes first.

      • by moranar (632206) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:12PM (#33089488) Homepage Journal

        "He"'s killed Debian? Sorry, but he didn't point guns at anybody to get users and developers. Build a better Debian, don't give us the "it's all Shuttleworth's fault, waaaa!" crap.

    • Ubuntu is bringing free software to the masses as noone else has done before. Nobody forces you to install proprietary software from the partner repository or anywhere else and when Ubuntu detects that a proprietary driver, for instance, is available for your hardware it tells you that it's not free software and you can choose to ignore and keep using the free one.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:18PM (#33088502)
    People who think people from another group are 'wrong by default' are wrong!

    If this was Startrek the androids head would now explode.
  • What a hypocrite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:22PM (#33088594) Homepage Journal

    Mark doesn't like it that we don't just all cooperate in making him even more wealthy. We're not his unpaid employees, even if that's the way he treats us.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by schon (31600)

      Bruce, you are exactly right - especially after you read things like this [markshuttleworth.com].

  • by 1000101 (584896) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:29PM (#33088728)
    Only 52 comments in and it seems there is already a disproportionate number of posts moderated Offtopic, Troll, or Flamebait than a typical /. thread. All this and we're just talking about the possibility of tribalism being a problem in the free software community. Perhaps Mr. Shuttleworth is on to something.
  • Indulge me.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by itomato (91092) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:49PM (#33089066)

    I'm not entirely qualified to make a fluid dynamics analogy, but bear with me here..

    Tribes are eddys.

    If a current within a fluid encourages inter-eddy interaction (dispersal, conjoinment) - no matter how temporary or permanent, yet the tendency is for eddys to exist outside a flow or current system.

    How can tribes not also persist outside those social currents not strong enough to induce diffusion?

    There are still 'Kolmogrov microscales' when there appear to be no eddys..

  • Unfortunately, at this stage, changing civics would cause civil unrest, and we're only three turns away from finishing the Oracle, and five turns away from the Pyramids.....

  • by jimicus (737525) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:59PM (#33089268)

    A friend and I have recently been discussing tribalism and an idea he called Monkeysphere - I'll quote him here more-or-less verbatim as he's already written it beautifully:


    It's [Monkeysphere] a brilliant concept. It came about when researchers noticed a correlation between primate brain sizes (I forget whether it was the whole brain or a key part of it) and the size of their social groups. It was such a strong correlation that they could actually predict how big a group it would be when presented with a brain they hadn't seen before. This group limit has been termed the Monkeysphere.

    One day they were given a rather large brain, and guessed a social group size of 150. You might already have guessed which species this brain came from.

    Basically, we cannot cope with the idea of more than 150 people - at least, not AS people. We blur the others out. The supermarket
    checkouts may as well be staffed by robots for all we care. There are human beings taking away our rubbish every morning, but we don't even think about them. All we think about is the rubbish going out, and then disappearing. Road rage? We simply don't see other drivers as people.

    We *have* to work this way, or we'd go mad.

    Stereotypes? Racism? That's the Monkeysphere at work. It's much easier to think of a million people far away if we think of them all as the
    *same* person.

    Now apply this logic to any community. Once the community gets big enough (such as in the Free Software world), it essentially divides into such tribes and you wind up with exactly what Shuttleworth's describing.

    The sad thing is, if this Monkeysphere idea is accurate, I don't see how such tribalism in the F/OSS world is avoidable. Indeed, it'll only get worse as more organisations jump on the bandwagon.

  • Lord of the flies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Friday July 30, 2010 @06:03PM (#33090154)
    Everyone, please go read Lord Of The Flies. I'll wait whilst you do that.
    Waiting
    Waiting
    Waiting
    Waiting

    Now do you understand the original post? Thanks.
  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Friday July 30, 2010 @06:09PM (#33090234) Homepage

    I'm not necessarily disagreeing with him, but for perspective, contrast with with Daniel Quinn, Ishmael, and "Beyond Civilization":
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_(novel)#New_Tribalist_Movement [wikipedia.org]
    http://books.google.com/books?id=bHP9ztHuWmwC [google.com]
    "With the publication of his trilogy of novels (Ishmael; The Story of B; My Ishmael), Quinn became something of a cult figure in visionary fiction. In those books, Quinn explored the self-sustaining nature of tribal societies and his belief that the current worldwide ecological and economic crises are due to the agriculture-based organization of civilized societies. He now turns his hand to nonfiction, with an appeal for universal renewal through a "New Tribal Revolution." Acknowledging that it would be impossible for most civilized humans to return to the hunting and gathering typical of tribes, Quinn argues that modern men and women need to invent a completely different mode of existence. To do this, they must question a basic assumption of all civilized societies: "Civilization must continue at any cost and must not be abandoned under any circumstances." Quinn, borrowing from Richard Dawkins, calls this assumption a "meme," the cultural equivalent of a gene. Quinn's main examples are peoples like the Maya and Anasazi, who returned to tribalism after unsuccessful attempts at other types of social organization, and the communal structure of traditional circuses. The author has a knack for stating the obvious with tremendous personal conviction. His articulation of a simpler way of life will appeal to those made frantic by globalization and all the forces conspiring to make people dance as fast as they can. (Oct.) "

    As well as someone else's related point:
    "New Tribalism" By Royce Carlson
    http://www.zenzibar.com/articles/newtribalism.asp [zenzibar.com]

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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