Re: [Spi-private] Re: Inviting questions from SPI

From: David Graham <cdlu(at)railfan(dot)ca>
To: spi-private(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Cc: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: [Spi-private] Re: Inviting questions from SPI
Date: 2007-07-13 19:43:36
Message-ID: Pine.LNX.4.55.0707131515040.16589@baffin
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On Fri, 13 Jul 2007, Joshua D. Drake wrote:
> Our charter clearly states:
> * To create, form and establish an organization to formulate and
> provide software systems for use by the general public without charge;
> * to teach and train individuals regarding the use and application
> of such systems;
> * to hold classes, seminars and workshops concerning the proper use
> and application of computers and computer systems;
> * to endeavor to monitor and improve the quality of currently
> existing publicly available software;
> * to support, encourage and promote the creation and development of
> software available to the general public;
> * to provide information and education regarding the proper use of
> the Internet;
> * to organize, hold and conduct meetings, discussions and forums on
> contemporary issues concerning the use of computers and computer
> software;
> * to foster, promote and increase access to software systems
> available to the general public;
> * to solicit, collect and otherwise raise money and to expend such
> funds in furtherance of the goals and activities of the corporation;
> * to aid, assist, cooperate, co-sponsor and otherwise engage in
> concerted action with private, educational and governmental
> organizations and associations on all issues and matters concerning the
> use of computers and computer software
> and generally
> * to endeavor to promote, foster and advance interest in computers
> and computer software by all available means and methods.
> In essence, my platform is the charter. I just didn't want to cut and
> paste ;)

The purpose of the charter is to outline the list of anything and
everything we are allowed to do as an incorporated non-profit, not a list
of things we necessarily intend or plan to do. As with any corporation,
the purpose must be set out at its founding and it is my understanding
that this purpose cannot be changed. It is therefore imperative for the
founders of a corporation, as the founders of SPI here tried to do, to
forsee all activities SPI may ever consider carrying out at any time. I
don't believe it was ever the intention of SPI to do all these things at

That said, it is a noble goal to try and carry out everything from
government lobbying to conference organisation and to generally promote,
foster and advance interest in computers and computer software by all
available means and methods. Thanks to our charter, we can adopt member
projects who do any of these things.

On Fri, 13 Jul 2007, Anthony Towns wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 13, 2007 at 11:32:16AM -0400, David Graham wrote:
> > We have to decide as an organisation if our purpose is to influence the
> > community or simply be the wall the community can lean against while it
> > does its work.
> As a community member, I don't want to feel like I've got my back up
> against the wall ;)

Ok, perhaps a bad analogy, how about providing a bar table to sit at? ;)

> Personally, though, I'd put that differently, more as SPI being one
> means by which the community influences others -- which from SPI's
> perspective still means trying to publicise and advocate various ideas,
> but with the focus being taking those ideas from the free software
> community rather than trying to push them onto the free software
> community.

I can't disagree with that; influence by osmosis instead of by aggressive
lobbying is quite constructive. I don't want SPI's focus to be on lobbying
or advocacy primarily because SPI is alone in its much needed niche and we
should concentrate on that niche as our primary focus.

> > I believe that we should make every reasonable effort to assist our
> > associated projects in doing any advocacy they wish, within the bounds
> > of their budgets and our charter. I don't believe our role is to be an
> > independent lobby group, but our projects are free to be with our
> > backing.
> The difference there is that having projects do advocacy rather than SPI
> removes the opportunity for SPI to actively help projects cooperate.
> SPI's in a position to have a broad overview of the goals of an already
> somewhat wide range of projects and notice similarities and help them
> speak with one voice; which is a bit harder to achieve from a single
> project's standpoint.

That's a point on the surface, but I don't necessarily see it that way: I
am not suggesting that SPI not actively help its projects cooperate or
even advocate, only that we do so by the request of our member projects,
and not on our own whim. If projects want to work together or seek to work
together, then that is a kind of request they can make to SPI if they so
choose and SPI can then approach the other projects, for example. This
would be fine with me. I simply have reservations about SPI overtly doing
the advocacy or lobbying without the urging of its member projects whose
interests we are meant to be primarily focused on.

- -
David "cdlu" Graham - cdlu(at)railfan(dot)ca
Guelph, Ontario -


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