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On being "lazy" about software freedom:

Everyone lives a full life. Not everyone gets the same opportunity to pick what fills their life, though. People are busy. They have things they like to do or find easy, & things that are unpleasant or difficult.

People whose life is filled differently than yours, who have different priorities than yours, aren't any more lazy than you are lazy for not picking a more compassionate way to talk about the challenges standing in the way of software freedom.

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I'm interested in software freedom aka FOSS. A great deal of my interest revolves around its emancipatory & empowering aspects, the ways it supports both autonomy & community. I think about it a lot, write about it, & talk about it. I've even gotten paid, some, for teaching about it.

I've come to view with suspicion, though, those speaking mostly of their love, support, or even use of FOSS in their bio. I've seen too many fossbros with very narrow, privileged ideas about what freedom means & who it's for.

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One of my distractions is working with polycaprolactic acid aka polycaprolactone (PCL) which is a thermoplastic (think fizzy drink bottles, plastic take out containers, and the stuff that certain types of 3D printers squeeze out).

The neat thing about it is that it is workable at fairly low temperatures, less than what water boils at; comfortable hot soup or hot beverage type temperatures. This makes it hand-workable.

Good for a variety of uses, but I just find it a lot of fun to play with.

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@andre

I wish we saw more love for this sort of incrementalism, to be honest.

The giants didn't get giant overnight, we aren't going to get to their better successors overnight.

The giants are giant! Even diverting a fraction of the commerce and attention they draw can still be a lot!

We need to feed everyone's imagination as to what else is possible. A single step into the world outside the silos is a huge step.

@resist1984

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I've got an account on a large general instance and a small boutique instance, but neither of them is super diligent about blocking certain instances.

Thought it would be good to have an account where I run into less crap like that.

only mildly subtooting use of 'mh' 

bemused by the abbreviation 'mh' in content warnings for 'mental health' since it's a name collision for the 'mail handling' suite of programs from back in the day

"cool. oh. wait. no, it's the other thing"

I'd read it a while back, but only just got around to watching the Big Short.

And, uh. Damn.

COVID-era retail 

occasionally, I still get a few things there because it's either that, or drive way out of my way, or shop online with all the challenges and problems *that* entails.

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COVID-era retail 

so, the first reason is simple: health. they weren't enforcing masking very well.

the second reason is the more general contempt-for-their community aspect.

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COVID-era retail 

What ties them together has been this company's approach to the communities they are supposed to serve.

Basically, they capitulated to anti-masking sentiment to the point of being fined multiple, escalating times, which they defended in court saying, essentially "what do you expect us to do? enforce health and safety measures?"

this is a *food* retailer, mind you.

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COVID-era retail 

I've been trying to avoid using a certain local-champion retail chain in particular during the pandemic around two related reasons.

ok, I gave @altlink a try.

Turns out I like the idea more in principal than in practice.

uncomfortable weather 

it's not hot enough now that we're baking, broiling, roasted, fried, etc

but it is very humid

so, it's more like sous vide, I guess?

Maybe instead of saying something is available "for free" we should say it's "gratuitously available".

"gratuitous" having both the sense of "in the manner of a gift" but also "unjustified or unnecessary; not called for by the circumstances"

en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gratuit

(derp "late stage capitalism" is of course the term I had in mind)

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Spare a thought for the academy's predicament. It deserves some blame, but I think most of all for not defending itself better. Like so many things it has been under attack by socio-economic forces, call it financialization or end-state capitalism or whatever, but there is a strong push for it to be assimilated into the machine. Bureaucratic inertia might just be a manifestation of it fighting back in its own, weird, millenia-old ways.

(ok, and with that, I'm calling it: **thread**)

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I mean, if you can hire any IT people at all, competing for people competent at "enterprise" computing with business and industry. Maybe your IT people have become, effectively, purchasing agents, quibbling over seat count but mostly just taking what the vendors offer, with no experience to evaluate the big picture. Maybe they have undergone full regulatory capture, working to see how much grant money and tuition they can extract from the institution on *behalf* of the vendors & themselves.

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on the flipside, are the IT people who are there 'just" to provide a service going to understand that "graduating" as a graduate student doesn't happen at the more familiar, dominant everyone-graduates-on-just-one-weekend-in-the-spring cadence? Are they going to understand that a post-doc is the chicken of the sea, an employee in one way, a trainee in another, a grant writer in another?

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They don't see it, as I began to see it, as a sort of mental orthotic, a device we almost literally attach to our brains to help us see the objects of our study, to help us think, to help us remember, to mediate all of our communication not just with each other but with ourselves. It's "just a tool" to most faculty. So if you tell them hey there's this new policy around access to Box or to email or whatever, are they even going to read the email? Are they going to think "this might be bad for my work"?

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In the meantime, the academy has kind of sort of made the workforce development deal with the devil, that it's worth all the tuition, state subsidy, tax-exemption, risking poisoning the minds of our children with political & religious heresies, etc. Faculty need to write grants & offer popular courses. Administrators need to keep enough balls in the air to keep faculty & students, if not happy, or if not content, at least moving through the system. IT is just something they use. They need it to Just Work.

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In more mundane terms, there's the whole angle of academic IT being treated as a loss-leader by vendors. Are you a "poor" student (nevermind the baseline privilege required, again, even to be able to spend *time* studying over & above questions of tuition & loans)? If so, great, here, use All The Things For Free or at least For Very Cheap or at least As A HIdden Cost Wrapped Into Your Tuition. But once you are no longer a student, what are you, trying to take food out of the mouths of vendors children?

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That status, then, interacts with state and federal law around what it means to be a student, or an employee, or both. For instance, if you still get email, then you are an employee. If you are an employee, you still should be getting paid. Or, maybe, you can get email if you are still a student, but what being a "student" means needs to be interpreted very strictly because, if you aren't a student, but you are in the US on a student visa, well, the men in the white vans would like to have a word.

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OK, so, maybe I see an exit from this thread for now. Turnover. Turnover, which is not just *expected* but *required* (you have to get exceptions to stay past a certain point as a student) has to be handled. You need to provision and deprovision accounts. Back in the computing-optional days, this was almost certainly done ad hoc. But these days, that doesn't cut it. There are policies and procedures, predicated on one's exact, official status.

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Consider, for example, turnover.

The market fundamentalist view of the student is as a consumer. This is, of course, bullshit. The essential difference between a dipoloma mill & a university worth spending even just any *time* at, let alone any tuition dollars, is that the student is an integral participant in the day to day goings on. Their performance in the endeavor is the main thing. They are at least as much like employees as they are customers. And they turn over at a huge rate.

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