[linux-elitists] [thaths@gmail.com: Re: [silk] FOSS.IN]

Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Sat Dec 24 14:19:06 PST 2005

----- Forwarded message from Thaths <thaths@gmail.com> -----

From: Thaths <thaths@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 11:09:36 -0800
To: silklist@lists.hserus.net
Cc: jaldhar@braincells.com
Subject: Re: [silk] FOSS.IN
Reply-To: silklist@lists.hserus.net

On 12/24/05, jaldharvyas <jaldhar@braincells.com> wrote:
> --- In silk-list@yahoogroups.com, Thaths <thaths@g...> wrote:
> > 1. Hardcore, technical topics (like Cox's or Welte's talks) tend
> > to draw bigger audiences in India because of the perceived
> > potential monetary outcome of knowing the skill being talked about.
> Ok, so?  Free software isn't against making money.

Perish the thought, Jalandar. Nobody is saying that one shouldn't make
money from free software.

> > If one of the lesser known Open Source people were to speak on a
> > non-technical, but important topic say, copyright term extensions, I
> > would bet that the talk will draw a significantly lesser crowd.
> The same applies to any conferences anywhere I think.  But the point
> is to increase awareness and just knowing there is an organized
> community for software freedom makes an impact.  You cannot expect
> political awareness to happen overnight.  Not in India, or the US or
> anywhere.  The important thing is to get the concepts out there.

I agree. I was addressing the OP's point that he saw large crowds in
the technical talks and was wondering why, still, the code
contributions from India was low. My contention is that it takes a
more than technically-interested geek to contribute code back and that
this number is small, but growing.

> > 2. For most attendees, Linux is a skill (not that there is
> > anything in approaching it as a skill) and not a passion or lifestyle.
> > In other words, hackerhood is a relatively smaller phenomenon in
> > India at this stage. This is partially because the schooling system
> > tends to drain the passion out of students and makes them into
> > automatons who regurgitate memoried facts to gain higher marks.
> > The pressures of getting into a good college and getting a well-paid
> > and steady job drain whatever passion remains. Under these
> > circumstanses, it is extremely difficult to keep one's inner geek alive.
> > This is one of the reasons why geeks that are passionate about
> > Open Source have tended to be from the upper socio-economic
> > strata of Indian society - they were economically safe enough to
> > afford their pursuing their passions.
> Why do you think this a feature of Indian society only?

I don't think it is a feature of Indian society. I think it is a
feature of a developing country.

> Look at any
> gathering of American geeks and it will be overwhelmingly White,
> well-to-do, suburban types.

Agree. Based on a sampling of my White geek friends, I would say they
are predominantly children of white collar baby boomers. Many of them
were exposed to computers their dads brought home from work at an
early age. I think similar conditions exist in India today for the
kids of today.

> The media over here has reported
> extensively on the drastic drop in students pursuing IT degrees.

Could this be explained by the off-shoring of IT work that is going on?

> This is because most of them were "mark-seeking automatons."

Umm. I do not agree with this. While there are students for whom
grades are the end-all, the system also does not mush up students into
a homogeneous goop. The pressure to get into a good engineering /
medical college is *much* less than that in India (or China, or

> I can tell you that I met with many young people at foss.in who were
> very enthusiastic about Free software.  I am trying to mentor as
> many of them as I can so we can keep that enthusiasm up.

I was not saying that good hackers don't exist in India. I have had
the pleasure of talking with many of them. I was saying that it is
difficult to collar them at a conference like foss.in. I am glad that
you are mentoring some of these people. I believe that is a very
important thing to do.

> > 3. India is undergoing accelerated social and economic change.
> > Entirely new careers are opening up for the young people today. I
> > think with time - I would hazard to guess 5 to 10 years - life
> > would be less precarious in India to let more young geeks follow
> > their dreams.
> If it is truly their dream, they will follow it regardless of the
> financial cost.

I can only use anecdotal evidence from my and the generation preceding
and following mine - It is getting better all the time. It is much
easier for the my nieces and nephews generation to follow their dreams
than it was for my uncles and aunts generation.

> We are going to have atleast five more Debian developers in India
> directly because of foss.in.

I have been following the discussions in Debian India. I am happy to
hear this. It was during Linux Bangalore 2001 that I signed the key of
the first developer (ramki@ti) to be geographically located in India
(Manoj, you and I were the only recognizable Indian names in
debian-develop back in those days. And IIRC, none of us were living in
India at that time). Yet, I cannot help but wonder whether adding 5
developers in 4 years was such a great achievement after all.

"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even
                       remotely true!"  -- Homer J. Simpson

----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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