20 years FSFE: Interview with Georg Greve, founder president

still to come

https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210202-01.html

It is my personal belief that people should reinvent themselves to some extent every 10 years or so. For organisations that time is around 20 years. FSFE was founded when FSF was approaching its 20 year anniversary. It was a rejuvenation from the outside. My wish is that FSFE manages to rejuvenate itself from the inside.

The world has changed so much since we started back then. Relevance today will be based on very different parameters and needs to include answers to shifts like decentralised finance, self-sovereign identity, and the internet of things. All of these change the basis on which our world functions and the way in which people interact with technology.

FSFE now has the choice to rest safely on its knowledge of moral superiority and the knowledge we’ll be able to tell people we told them so when they get burned in future. Or it can boldly go where no Free Software organisation has gone before and actively embrace and tackle these topics to which we should already have answers.

So what I wish FSFE is the courage to be brave, diverse, controversial and tolerant in the years to come.

I think that the normal behavior for people and organizations is to stay inside the comfort zone and to isolate, ignore and exclude the “troublemakers”. So, I doubt that an organization can rejuvenate itself from inside.

My honest opinion for FSFE is that it is a “bla bla bla” organization, that talks about legal issues, principles of freedom and user rights, spreads awareness, etc. While this might still be important, it is not as important and relevant as it was 20 years ago. Nowadays everyone accepts the benefits of free software and open source. Think about it, even Microsoft has embraced open source (or at least does not oppose it openly). No one needs to be convinced about it.

What people (and organizations) need more are solutions. Simple and working technical solutions. But FSFE stays clearly and intentionally away from providing technical solutions, because there are other organizations that do this, it is not its job.

By the way, I am interested in experimenting with self-sovereign identity. Is anyone else interested in this?

Hi Dashamir,

Dashamir Hoxha via FSFE Community no-reply-discourse@fsfe.org writes:

I think that the normal behavior for people and organizations is to
stay inside the comfort zone and to isolate, ignore and exclude the
“troublemakers”.

I agree that this is a tendency of organizations, but it’s possible to
work against that. For example, the reason I gained more influence in
the FSFE is because I question a lot of things. I’m never satisfied
with the status quo and that’s actually why I was invited to more and
more teams and eventually the GA. So while I agree with your general
point, I have at least anecdotal evidence that this is not true for the
FSFE. :slight_smile:

My honest opinion for FSFE is that it is a “bla bla bla” organization,

That sounds very harsh. Based on the rest of your message, I have the
impression you didn’t mean to be harsh, but still.

Nowadays everyone accepts the benefits of free software and open
source. Think about it, even Microsoft has embraced open source (or at
least does not oppose it openly). No one needs to be convinced about
it.

I think your impression here is very exaggerated. There are many
successes for Free Software and I’m happy to celebrate those, but we
need to be vigilant to not lose those successes again. There are also
many areas where we still need to achieve a lot more. Schools are
currently moving towards non-free solutions, it is getting more
difficult to run regular PCs with completely Free Software, and the most
common computers these days, cell phones and tablets, can mostly not be
run with fully Free Software. Those are huge problems and they
cannot be solved with technology alone. We need to convince politicians
that Free Software is especially important in schools, we need to
convince hardware manufacturers that supporting Free Software is of
major importance, not just a bonus. And even this may need a push from
a political side because with Free Software, hardware can be used longer
than with non-free software and using hardware longer is against the
interest of hardware manufacturers.

What people (and organizations) need more are solutions. Simple and
working technical solutions.

That’s true and I am very greatful for everyone providing great
solutions. I’m a big fan of Framasoft for that reason because they
provide a lot of services that typically Google and some other companies
would provide and that are useful for daily life. I sometimes feel
they’re doing the job of the GNU project, but for the web.

By the way, I am interested in experimenting with self-sovereign
identity. Is anyone else interested in this?

I’m curios to hear more about what that means.

Happy hacking!
Florian

I did not mean to be harsh. I mean that it does not develop any software (which is the core of the free software movement). Instead it makes presentations, publishes articles, organizes events, participates into events etc. And certainly I don’t fully know the extent of all the FSFE activities, so I could be wrong.

Simply providing services is not enough (in my opinion). If they also provide solutions, or help to improve existing solutions, this would be really useful.

Here is a definition of self-sovereign identity (copied from FAQs - Sovrin):


Self-sovereign identity (SSI) is a term used to describe the digital movement that recognizes an individual should own and control their identity without the intervening administrative authorities. SSI allows people to interact in the digital world with the same freedom and capacity for trust as they do in the offline world.

Everyone (including businesses and IoT) has different relationships or unique sets of identifying information. This information could be things like birth date, citizenship, university degrees, or business licenses. In the physical world, these are represented as cards and certificates that are held by the identity holder in their wallet or safe place like a safety deposit box, and are presented when the person needs to prove their identity or something about their identity.

Self-sovereign identity (SSI) brings the same freedoms and personal autonomy to the internet in a safe and trustworthy system of identity management. SSI means the individual (or organization) manages the elements that make up their identity and controls access to those credentials– digitally. With SSI, the power to control personal data resides with the individual, and not an administrative third party granting or tracking access to these credentials.

The SSI identity system gives you the ability to use your digital wallet and authenticate your own identity using the credentials you have been issued. You no longer have to give up control of personal information to dozens of databases each time you want to access new goods and services, with the risk of your identity being stolen by hackers.

This is called “self-sovereign” identity because each person is now in control of their own identity—they are their own sovereign nation. People can control their own information and relationships. A person’s digital existence is now independent of any organization: no-one can take their identity away.


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