FOSS boys: phew I finally got my emails working on my phone, it took me a week, involved a soldering iron, and I had to write a patch for a library
Also FOSS boys: people choose the convenience of Apple/Google/Microsoft because they're lazy and stupid, anybody can switch to Arch and PostmarketOS and self-host everything
@shahaan I love how these tech-centered people forget how much time they devote to learning and tinkering
Of course it's easy! First you have to learn computer science for five years, then...
@jkb Yep, exactly. I don’t fault them for being enthusiastic about their DIY tech stuff, on the contrary more power to them. But it certainly shouldn’t become a basis for demeaning and belittling those who neither have the time nor the interest.
@jkb True. It gets outright nasty however if crowds with such privileges start, in example, lobbying for privacy, claiming it's just lazy people deciding to use privacy-invading tools so best solution is to block or destroy these tools to force people out of their laziness. There's no empathy or sensibility for the very own level of expertise. 😶
@jkb Well... from looking at the last 25 years in FLOSS, it seems this is simply because the community has just _drastically_ changed. In the mid-1990s, FLOSS was mostly about totally tech-savvy people trying to build their own tools while fighting the restrictions of corporations preventing them from modifying existing tools to be really usable. It was a fight against artificially imposed restrictions by people who would otherwise be unrestricted. If everyone is an expert, RTFM ...
@jkb ... is an obvious response. In the 2020s, the majority of users *are* experts - but most of them aren't experts in technology. If I see people with a long experience and research history in, say, (non-software) architecture, pharmacy, ... falling back to Apple because it "just works" (unlike Windows or Linux that doesn't), that's the challenge I see for the FLOSS people to take. This kind of "target group" will never bother to RTFM if they elsewhere get something that works.
i'd also point out that, with the rise of applications & cloud, there's much fewer common threads to become an expert on. each piece of tech is different, & none of them afford you operator privileges or views of that particular piece of tech.
the existence of man pages is somewhat antiquated in that we used to be able to collect our tech knowledge, there used to be a place to go to read & learn about tech. there is no more central system, central operations; tech is broken & scattered across hundreds of silos.
As is the case with most things, there are nuances to be considered.
Should users take a reasonable amount of burden to read the docs? Yes.
Should devs not get nasty when they encounter users demanding answers who may not have had time to read the docs? Yes.
Should users expect near-instant responses as if devs have nothing else to do? No.
Should devs expect all users to read through technical docs to piece together the answer to every problem? No.
@shahaan While I generally tend to agree, I fear that (here, too) a lot of users will expect what they are used to, with most of the proprietary "gratis" stuff these days (which is dead-simple to use in most cases and hardly needs or offers any documentation while providing a central, mostly nontechnical means of end-user support - which rarely are the developers themselves for several reasons...).
@shahaan @z428 @jkb
full agreement with everyone here. I do want to reiterate though, harkening to the very first post, I feel like the users now are (un)trained into helplessness. Systems are simply not there, not in place for us to understand what is going on, and everything is different and unique, hosted proprietary and far off. The situation is simply unhealthy, is unlearnable; there is no chance for education for science for understanding to flow. we are on a path to being well and truly fucked with users able to bring less and less talent and skills to bear, even if they wanted to. cloud has removed humanity & society & community from the equation, replaced community with top-down heuristics and control. the base activity of computing is under severe and critical threat.
@jkb Very strange how certain groups view their skill set very differently.
For example, most lawyers have an above average ability to do legal things but still think it's difficult enough that they'll employ a specialist if they need representation rather than doing it themselves.
@DaveHiggins That's not entirely a question of skill.
For most people computers (in the broad sense so including smartphones) are tools, they are a mean not and end. Computing professionnals and enthousiasts have a tendency to forget this.
Also it's not enough to have the motivation to learn and make, you also need time and money. This is also easy easy to forget when you're a 30-something single man with a software engineer salary.
If you look at software as just a tool, then it is only natural you don't give that priority. Only if you see the politics of controlling the software in the big picture, you can appreciate it. It is not only about your phone, it has implications on medical devices that some of have to connect to your bodies, voting machines that decide who rules you, big tech that monitors and influence your decisions. Of course there is arrogant people in FOSS, like in rest of the society.
@praveen @DaveHiggins Even then, being aware of the political aspect won't magically provide free time and skills to anyone and everyone. It's our responsibility as techies to provide full-featured software and services that are easy enough for non-techies to use day-to-day. Only then can they escape the walled gardens.
When people are aware of the political aspect, they will be better prepared to not turn away at the first problem. I don't disagree with the need to provide good quality Free Software to everyone, but there are so many ways non techies can contribute as well to make it better. Funding Free Software development does not need any technical skills. I know many non technical people who chose Free Software for politics.
You can read the full study here https://www.academia.edu/1245598/Free_and_Open_Source_Software_FOSS_in_Education_IT_at_School_Project_Kerala_Region_of_India
The Free Software community in Kerala convinced teachers why it is important and even when they were not at all tech savvy, the grasped the importance and demanded the govt to switch. So how we look at the situation is the most important thing. The teachers maintain a custom GNU/Linux distro with all the software they need included in it. #FreeSoftware #Kerala
@praveen @jkb @DaveHiggins An addendum: since the journal's original page is no longer online, I found an alternative place to get the work: https://espace.curtin.edu.au/bitstream/handle/20.500.11937/14340/190087_74348_5-48-1-PB-1.pdf
We have in this century done with computers what America has largely done with cars: Made their use mandatory, even for people who have neither the skill nor the inclination to learn how to operate and care for the complex machinery in question, let alone take on the expense of doing so.
Maybe the answer isn't "make cars 'better' but rather to a) let someone else operate them and b) hire their use under clear and fair rules of carriage.
I tend to contrast this with fields like law & medicine, where there is a regulated class of professionals with a duty to serve the client in the client's attempt to use the system in question.
or, already hinted at in my transportation comparison, airline or rail service employees.
the IT industry is structured as if we relied on Big Pharma not just for (a heavily mediated) supply, but for primary care.
@jkb @praveen @DaveHiggins The talk given by #LuisVilla ( https://media.libreplanet.org/u/libreplanet/m/stallman-nussbaum-and-sen-putting-freedom-in-context/ ) and by #AllisonRandal ( https://media.libreplanet.org/u/libreplanet/m/free-software-free-society/ ), and the work of Leonardo Santos de Lima ( http://rccs.revues.org/pdf/5462 ) give the same understanding and also expand it with other useful notes.
libretards using Arch? This is unacceptable, Parabola GNU/Linux-libre only!!
(I'm just joking btw, plz don't kill me)
I'm learning to self host so those around me don't have to.
This is my niche, I'll gladly be the operator for my close knit community.
Arrogance and elitism in tech is a real thing. We should all push for accessibility and lowering the bar to entry
@jkb Yeah we need to compete on usability, anything else is disrespectful of others' time.
Also: give phones some time, we're only just beginning to develop our own OSs for them having worked around their "security". In large part by building our own hardware.
@alcinnz Of course this is only the humble beginnings of libre phones, but this also means we cannot expect laypeople to use them (even though my mother has been running FirefoxOS for three years)
@jkb i'm not even a tech person and sometimes when dealing with less computery coworkers and family i tell someone they can "just" do this "one" thing and they really struggle
and i go in and do that "one" thing
having just unconsciously done like the 15 other things before it that i do unthinkingly out of pure habit
and it turns out i would've needed to spend like 20 minutes explaining all of that
@jkb it was so big that the satire was obvious, who would expect the average Joe to use/configure this kind of stuffs.
@abouix Well... anyone who would reply "just use Linux" to a question about Windows, and there's plenty of those
@jkb well if it was Ubuntu or LinuxMint, even my grandparents could replace Windows with them. But I believe asking someone to configure everything up to driver compatibility and self-host a NextCloud instance has little chance to succeed.
Email on my phone:
Use built in browser, navigate to @F-Droid
Download their app & install
open F-Droid app
Install K9 Mail
put in mail server credentials
@jkb ya got me. For most people, computer problems are a huge pain in the neck. For others, it's an exciting new problem to solve :p
@jkb Oh yeah, those FOSS boys, who totally exist. It’s not like there’s any of us who can’t use a soldering iron to save our lives, and leave our libraries unpatched because they already work. We’re just adjusting our pocket protectors and calling everyone stupid for getting cleverly deceived by assholes pretending that FOSS is anything like you describe, because we hate America I guess.
@cy 1) it was a joke 2) you didn't read it, or so it seems, and 3) despite it describing something that you tell me doesn't exist it started several interesting conversations on usability and elitism. Think whatever you want, we will still try and improve things for everyone
@jkb Oh, well I was joking too. Except for the part about being tired of people making yet another joke about how hard it is to use free software. My mother refuses to try Linux because of jokes like that, you know? Well, also because of DRM, but neither you nor I can do much about that.
@cy It's not about FOSS being hard to use, it's about the difficulty of ditching cloud services, app stores, multi-platform sync, etc. It's easy to install and run Mint, but replacing Gmail, Outlook, or Dropbox is an entirely different story. Some packages like NextCloud make it easier, but it's still not easy enough for non-techies.
Until it is, we can't blame people for giving away their data to walled gardens.
@jkb Well, I don’t blame people for being victimized, and I don’t expect them to get themselves out of oppression, and it is frustrating that so little effort is going into doing that, versus making the problem worse. So yes, that’s why I try to focus on economic reform, rather than do the work of millions by myself just because I can access the source. But FOSS is not hard to use, and so many people are saying that it is, baselessly.
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