Linked by Kroc Camen on Thu 20th Aug 2009 09:43 UTC
Podcasts What else would we talk about other than the massively [popular|controversial] article about X.org last week. We try and address a number of concerns about the article and common lines of reasoning / misunderstanding. Lastly, we move onto something completely different with topics on Google Chrome on Linux, IE6 and the two details we know about RockMelt: Rock. Melt.
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RE[3]: X and Thom
by wfreund on Fri 21st Aug 2009 08:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: X and Thom"
wfreund
Member since:
2009-08-17

"Watch your generalizations and stereotypes, Thom. They are almost guaranteed to be wrong."

Actually, stereotypes and generalizations often prove to have varying measures of truth in them that apply to a visible portion of the targeted group at a level disproportionate to that of the general population. How much truth a particular generalization or stereotype contains usually depends on the observation skills and insight level of the speaker, not the fact that the statement is a generalization or stereotype.

That last sentence could be more accurately rendered such:

"They are almost guaranteed to have exceptions."

So long as one is willing to expect and allow for these exceptions, there is absolutely no danger in characterizing a group with a general statement. This is especially true when the members of said group are members because they self-identify with that group.

Generalizations can be useful in gaining an understanding of group-behavior. Without generalizations, you may as well take the torch to the entire field of study called Sociology, since in many ways it rests upon the forming of generalizations about people. In fact, many of the social sciences "suffer" from this "limitation."

Please don't fear generalizations and stereotypes simply because some people use them as a crutch with which to support their irrational or hateful beliefs. This would be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

---

To speak particularly to this issue, I agree with Thom that the sentiments that he describes are exhibited visibly by a good deal of people that would consider themselves "Open Source" or "Free Software" advocates. By visibly, I mean that this occurs enough to warrant a useful generalization. In my many years of lurking on computer related message boards, I've lost respect for many a poster as it became clear that they liked to have it both ways on this point.

Perhaps it would help to put it in this way....

If I was served a free meal in a humble spirit with no claims made with respect towards the quality of the food, I would have nothing to say but "Thank you." This would be the case even if the meal was terrible. However, if the person serving me the meal also insisted on extolling the virtues of his cooking methods and the quality of his food as compared to that of others, I would not consider it rude to counter these statements based on my experience. And if he then complained that my opinions weren't fair because the meal was free, not only would his complaint fall on deaf ears, but he would lose my respect.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: X and Thom
by Janvl on Fri 21st Aug 2009 11:12 in reply to "RE[3]: X and Thom"
Janvl Member since:
2007-02-20

Stunning that after so many years people do not seem to grasp the point.

If I was served a free meal


FOSS is about "free as in speech, not as in beer".

Here is another one having troubles with his reading skills.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: X and Thom
by boldingd on Fri 21st Aug 2009 16:47 in reply to "RE[4]: X and Thom"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Stunning that after so many years people do not seem to grasp the point.

"If I was served a free meal


FOSS is about "free as in speech, not as in beer".

Here is another one having troubles with his reading skills.
"

That wasn't his point. His point, at the end, was that you/we/the Linux-using community cannot claim that our software-development system works better than other models, while then also claiming that you can't point out that (some of) the results of our efforts are inferior because we're just volunteers. You can't have it both ways.
I value freedom a lot; I don't like OS/software vendors telling me what I can and can't do with my computer. That's why I'm a Linux user. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to pretend that Linux (-based operating systems) don't have some serious, serious weaknesses.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: X and Thom
by wfreund on Sat 22nd Aug 2009 06:54 in reply to "RE[4]: X and Thom"
wfreund Member since:
2009-08-17

If you insist on being snotty it helps your credibility not to let the point whiz over your head on its way to the ears of the people laughing at your naive misreading of a simple example.

And yes, I am quite aware of the distinction between gratis and libre. The example stands intact in either case.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: X and Thom
by sbergman27 on Fri 21st Aug 2009 14:43 in reply to "RE[3]: X and Thom"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Actually, stereotypes and generalizations often prove to have varying measures of truth in them that apply to a visible portion of the targeted group at a level disproportionate to that of the general population.

I happen to be a member of a few groups of people who tend to be stereotyped. And it has been my observation that the minority of people in the group who serve as the basis for the stereotype are either much more vocal or much more obvious to casual observers, than the rest of us. For example, people I interact with in my daily life likely don't happen to know that I am gay, but they most certainly notice the 7 foot drag queens in stiletto heels, big hair, and value size cans of Aquanet in hand, when our local Pride parade is on the evening news.

The silent majority ends up living with the stereotypes generated by the more salient members of the group. It is my firm belief, based upon what I have observed, that the Linux community has a silent, or at least relatively quiet, majority to which Thom's generalizations likely do not apply.

Edited 2009-08-21 14:46 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: X and Thom
by wfreund on Sat 22nd Aug 2009 06:51 in reply to "RE[4]: X and Thom"
wfreund Member since:
2009-08-17

The silent majority ends up living with the stereotypes generated by the more salient members of the group.

This is not the case if they distinguish themselves through their own behavior. They will be able to earn the respect of anyone that is not thinking blindly. They will be considered one of the exceptions, while not making the generalization any less true or useful.

It is my firm belief that there is nothing wrong with this. Generalizations can be useful in commentary and this is not any less so just because some people use generalizations to support their own hatreds. It is important to remember that the hatreds would still exist without the generalizations - they would simply find another avenue of expression.

Reply Parent Score: 1