[svlug] celebrities in the Open Source community

Hans Cathcart hans at itavera.com
Fri Nov 13 19:26:17 PST 1998

I have two comments in this mail:
1.) about the salary post
2.) how we should treat our Linux celebs.

At 3:29 PM -0800 11/13/98, Ian Kluft wrote:
>I don't think it's a good idea to be spreading those numbers around, even
>with the caveat that it was a guess from the Net.

I suppose you're right. I would have never tried to dig up the number, just
happened to see it on one of the Economist or Forbes online articles about
Linus. The reason I posted it (and I'm not defending myself, because I know
you didn't accuse me) was that it's actually quite encouraging to hear
about it. I mean it says to people that if you pursue your dream with
uncompromising ethics you can get rewarded. Most of the time we see how
this or that corporate scoundral makes tons of money for being scrupulous;
that's no good.

>Linus is a resident of
>our local community so we should do at least a little more to respect info
>that's considered private for most people.  Remember, Linus is not a
>politician, Hollywood-type celebrity or officer of a publicly-traded company
>so his income is nobody else's business.

While I'm sympathetic in Linus' case, I'm not sure that I buy the argument
for his exception.

Disclosure about a person's activities is a priviledge we hold in our
society for keeping the powerful in check. The powerful have always argued
for protection of their privacy, yet when they are granted those rights,
then there is often an abuse of power problem. In essence, when we grant
the powerful the privacy for which they ask, we are depriving ourselves of
the tools with which we can protect our own interests. So, the situation we
are left with is a sliding scale, with privacy and no-power on one side,
and no-privacy and power on the other.

Linus has a lot of power in a non-traditional sense. And he may soon become
the second most powerful person in the computer industry. (Let's hope!) So
I don't think we should treat him differently simply because he's not a
politician or hollywood star.

But, Linus is a really really nice guy, so for that reason I think we
_should_ treat him differently, for now, at least. (And people stay the
hell away from his wife and kids or I'll personally have to come and shoot

Enough of that, I want to get on to Ian's second point, which is the far
more important one.

>I've been thinking for a while about this issue of the new "celebrities"
>within the Open Source community, ...
>Whether in Linus' case or for any other high-profile contributor to an
>Open Source project, it's getting to the point that they can no longer
>attend an SVLUG meeting because they don't want so much attention.  Is
>the reward for contribution to drive them into hiding?  We should try to
>agree on some rules of conduct as a community that will help alleviate
>this problem and help our most productive contributors maintain a low(er)
>profile if they want to attend a meeting.

I fully agree, yet how to do it? An open-statement on our website which
every SVLUG member sees. A sort of code-of-conduct around OS celebs? Kind
of like the Queen of England? Is it wise to attempt to treat our heros as
royalty? Or do we need to revolutionize the treatment of celebs the same
way we revolutionized the computer software industry?  I think we should
talk at the next Peppermill. ;)

Hans Cathcart ________________________ http://www.itavera.com/~hans/
   Itavera Inc. - Web developers for the embedded systems market
        w:650-369-8381 - hans at itavera.com - c:650-400-2707
________ Linux - The Operating System for the 21st Century _________

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