Brazil is the World Free Software star… isn’t it?

There is a lot of talking about how great the free software scenario is in Brazil, how strong and big the community is and how the government makes efforts to drive to free software and support the community. My question always was: which community?

The first hope I saw was the article about the Brazil’s FOSS utopia image at risk, were several developers made public some things that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. I felt the article didn’t receive the attention it should get, but at least was a start, and I wasn’t even involved! It is great to see I’m not the only one grumpy about it. The worst thing I saw was the people who damage a work built during years using the article as they didn’t know what it was about.

Today I found a new website: Linux in Brazil, Open source reviews, news, trends and facts in Latin America, presented by BR-Linux.org. Linux in Brazil is like an English version of the well know BR-Linux website, which has been there for more than 10 years. It is the official reference for Free and Open Source Software news in Brazil, and not just saying the news, but often telling the history behind the news. Not just copy and paste, but some very detailed analysis and comments.

My opinion? Free Software in Brazil is a profusion of politics, talking, swanking, celebrities posing for pictures in announcements of amazing things they will do – but they never do. Yes, everybody is aware of Free Software now, but what else? We still have minimum efforts to support the developers, and all efforts I see to create new developers, giving training, came from… the community! Meanwhile, I see a lot of programs and support for projects with no results, the hype of “culture, midia, politics” and even “free seeds” – seriously. “We sure care about community, we even let them pay and go to the conferences and give them free wireless access”.

This bubble started some years ago, when some politicians saw in Free Software a big chance. But they are politicians, and the community is the community, I mean, totally parallel worlds, far away from each other. As politicians, they love being recognized and being the leaders, but hey, guess what? This is a meritocracy, you can’t just come here and tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. So after trying with no success becoming the leaders and bastions of truth and light, they had a great idea: they joined together in their own projects to talk and create their own vaporware. You can see lists where the words hackers, social, freedom, politics, @ll, synergy, ecosystem and so on and on and on again… I mean, you can create a bot to reproduce those mails and articles. Oh, you know what, someone did it! The Lero-Lero generator is a script which create an article based on random buzzwords. Once, someone threw one of this in a mailing list, and for days people were debating about it. There is the Desciclopedia definition about Free Software and community, and it looks like the main objectives of the Free Software “community” are:

  • the logo
  • the next coordinator or president
  • the better linux distribution
  • the linux distribution truly free
  • the next meeting
  • the new color for the t-shirt

There were spontaneous posts suggesting that we play bingo for the next FISL program, trying to guess what would happen again. Suggestions were:

  • big opening ceremony with the virtual conference with some famous politician who don’t quite understand what is this free software thing, but knows that is that thing his friend talked about
  • the official panel about women and free software, which talks about abortion, the day-care center, contraceptive methods and where went the money which was supposed to build a feminist telecentro(I swear , I have nothing to do with it, I used to hope someday they would talk seriously!!!!!)
  • a lot of government stands very pretty but with nothing to show. Some of them even have people in there to talk to, specially after Friday
  • people are sure that you enjoy and learn much more talking to people on the users groups (where 36 stands for users groups with four people allowed per group divide 150m2 with people wanting to talk to them) than watching the same talks or listening on the stands.
  • people making jokes about the big comedy of last year, and asking “celebrities” how much for the autograph and picture.

Well, now we have a communication media we trust telling to the world how things really are here. This was suppose to be a huge collaborating country in free software. This was suppose to be the example and help other countries. I think we still can do it, as we always did. This was a text made by a friend of mine, Aurelio(zzfunctions and so many other stuff), three years ago, when we made a panel about this:

Free software: developers and others

A long time ago, before the politicians coming to Free Software movement, digital inclusion, technical freedom, non governmental organizations, certifications, official representatives, spokesmen of community, committees, parliamentary movements and groups, the developers were there, coding.

Before Free Sofware being sexy and be on the news, became a buzzword, be on the TV, became a politics issue, gain specialized magazines, websites, forums and mailing lists, the developers were there, coding.

Before the never ending arguments about the better distributions, the community falling in pieces, people offending each other in public channels, the egos war, people in the same project fighting against each other and the criticism, the developers were there, coding.

The world is going to keep turning around, the Sun is going to rise every day, as well the noise, the fights and the trends. Meanwhile, those who do, will keep doing it.

I’m not a developer myself, besides some ignored patches. But I joined the community when our idols were Linus, Patrick and Ian, people who actually did great things, as we wanted to do. I do think developers are the core of all this thing, I try to help them with documentation, translation and helping people with problems, so I obviously think those roles are important too. And I do think we need to talk about philosophy and freedom. But when you have more people to talk than people actually doing something, there is something wrong. The world was not built based just on words.

Politics by Userfriendly

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