Archive talk:2005-12-21 board meeting

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skyfaller whee, board meeting

mllerustad Indeed.

-->| gavinb ( has joined #freeculture

jibot gavinb is Gavin Baker (, co-founder of Florida Free Culture (

gavinb again chatzilla doesn't work... dunno what's up

luckily there's the web portal

mllerustad Weird... it's working for me.

skyfaller yay web portal!

gavinb so... gwen stefani's pregnant. that seems relevant

skyfaller OK, so, to business

... maybe she'll name her kid after Lessig

"Little Lessig"

gavinb are you trying to shush me?

skyfaller heh... my motives are secret and hard to guess

um.... where are the minutes / agenda from the last board meeting?

they're not linked to from anywhere obvious

gavinb i've been playing with userboxes on wikipedia for the last [period of time]... it's fun


Continuing from last time.

skyfaller ... could this be linked to from "meetings" or "board meeting" or something?

gavinb could be

jibot Jibbler is Paul Mutton and can be found at (and you should all buy his book "IRC Hacks"!)

skyfaller ... thanks, jibot

... man, even "board of directors" doesn't link to it

it's an orphan

gavinb not entirely

but it's not that easy to find

skyfaller alright, I'm linking to it from "meetings"

gavinb it is a wiki

skyfaller done

anyway, I guess let's start poking at this

mllerustad What all can we get done without Elizabeth?

gavinb anything... 3/4 is a majority

now, it wouldn't be very nice to make any major decisions

mllerustad Yeah.

gavinb but we can form a consensus among us about what we want to get done

we haven't really decided exactly what we're going to do as a board... so we need to do that

you'll have to excuse for a minute, i have to feed myself... but have a look at the docs linked from last meeting and see what you think of them

and prepare any questions or comments you have about what they are or whatever

skyfaller ok

so.... how about them thar documents?

mllerustad The mission statement's a bit... short.

skyfaller well, we can add on to it... but it's good to have a simple core mission

mllerustad True.

skyfaller I think it's good for the board members to have e-mail forwarding addresses.... want one?

gavinb woot food

mllerustad Sure.

I like the values, though some of them could be clarified... Really, the major challenge's gonna be the policy paper.

gavinb well, yes and no

i kind of see it as a pyramid

skyfaller I think our naming system is fine... eventually we'll have multiple Elizabeths and Karens in the organization I'm sure, but first come, first served

where do you want to forward to?


gavinb you have the very basic mission statement at the bottom... then either the statement of values, or an expanded mission statement above it... then the legislative principles, our basic principles for what we want to see in legislation... then the actual policy paper

gavinb do you guys agree that writing policy papers to coincide with the election cycle is a good idea?

mllerustad Yeah.

skyfaller gavinb: yeah, that makes sense

gavinb the previous idea was every year, but i don't think we want to re-write every year

plus, since the congress will be the same, the issues aren't going to change drastically in one year

so i guess let's start at the bottom: what do you think of the mission statement?

skyfaller I think looks OK

you and I have tested it

by throwing different situations at it and seeing if the mission statement covers them

we should document that so that if people disagree with our assessment, they know our reasoning

gavinb doesn't mean it's necessarily the best, though

mllerustad It seems a little odd that it doesn't say anything about students specifically...

gavinb there might be other considerations

mllerustad: yeah, so about that

basically, we've been over this in the past

and we decided to split it up into two things

the "mission statement" is our statement of goals as a movement, our reason for being -- what's the overall mission

other organization-specific issues -- like students / youth, chapters, etc. -- belongs somewhere else

mllerustad Alright.

skyfaller ... well, now that you put it that way, part of our mission has been to educate our peers about the issues and get youth involved in the FC movement...

gavinb i'm not sure we definitely answered where those would go... probably partially in About, partially in bylaws, maybe somewhere else

skyfaller do you guys remember ?

I think my answer to question #2 was important

jibot JaredCE is Jared and blogs at and can be found at and in 6th grade

gavinb skyfaller: again, differentiation b/w *goals* and *tactics*

skyfaller gavinb: true

gavinb our mission is not to get students involved, that's not the reason the org was founded... the mission is to acheive certain ends

the particular way we do that is by organizing students

skyfaller gavinb: right, we did go over this before.

I just have a poor memory

gavinb i think separating the two makes the most sense

if you look at pk's mission statement it's what they want to acheive, not how they do it

did you have a point with the keystone politics?

skyfaller well, that's not entirely true... it does say who they intend to work wiith

gavinb: I was just pointing out the "what makes FC.o unique" question

which I thought I answered well

and it seems like something that has to go in at least one of our official documents in some form

gavinb maybe something about students does belong in the mission

skyfaller because while our mission statement tells us what issues we should get involved with

gavinb as a kind of preamble to the central points

skyfaller it seems like we need to differentiate ourselves from other orgs that have very similar goals

I think the goal of our mission statement should be to tell us whether we should get involved with any particular project

when we ask "should we do this?" the answer is "well, what does the mission statement say?"

or is that not the purpose of a mission statement? or is that only one purpose of a mission statement? what other purposes does it have to serve?

gavinb i think that's the main purpose, at least for us

it probably helps for it give a bit of background, so people reading it are not totally clueless what's up

so referencing pk's mission, what about a preample something like this: " is a student activist organization dedicated to advancing the cause of free culture. We organize on college and university campuses worldwide to acheive our fundamental goals: (1) & (2)"

mllerustad I like it.

gavinb (this is not the time to hash out perfect wording, but is it more or less what we're looking for?)

skyfaller ... I'd kind of like to get all three of my points from the Keystone Politics interview in

if this is the place to do it

gavinb i think that's appropriate

skyfaller 1. We are a student movement.

mllerustad It definitely gets #1 and #2...

skyfaller 2. We have a strong local presence, 3. We are working to unite the disparate interest groups,

... right

mllerustad The unification is sort of implied... Could be made explicit, though.

skyfaller I think one thing we bitch about on a regular basis is that people don't work together enough

and I think that's something we can help out wiht


gavinb i think framing it that way is too time-specific

the bigger point is that we work with lots of people, across ideological or party lines

skyfaller gavinb: OK, I like that phrasing

gavinb not just out of necessity or coincidence, but as a point

skyfaller it's more than just ideology, though

I think we should be making an effort to work with people from many different backgrounds

gavinb just like the point in 2 is not that we're local, but that we have to ability to take the issues to our local communities so it's not just federal laws we work on, but policies on a much smaller scale, down to the individual person

skyfaller gavinb: I also like that wording

I mean, the point is grassroots organizing at the community level, right?

gavinb that still doesn't seem to convey the point to me

grassroots organizing can still be focused on lofty federal policy goals

what's unique to me is that it's not just federal policy, or international law: this is something that affects every state, county, city, university, business, library, band, author, and so on

it's "political" as well as "social" change

it's not just the law, but the culture we want to create

skyfaller gavinb: right

gavinb by comparison, the green movement isn't just about environmental protection laws, it's about getting people to care about the environment, make green-friendly buying decisions, to recycle and reduce waste, etc.

that's what's special about point 2, from my pov

skyfaller I agree

... so, given those points of agreement, does that give us a mission statement? ;-)

... are there any hairs we have to split over the "student" aspect?

gavinb i think we just turn those points into a brief preamble to what we have of the mission statement

if there's to be any hair-splitting, today's not the time... we just want to scope out the basic agenda

mllerustad Hear hear.

skyfaller ok

gavinb but everyone thinks that the heart of the mission statement is where it needs to be? and that it fundamentally includes what it needs to?

mllerustad Yeah.

skyfaller ... like I said, I think we should document the "test cases" we used to determine that the mission statement is satisfactory

if I could only find the IM conversation that I'm thinking of... or was it a phone call?

gavinb i dont see the harm, but it doesnt seem like a priority


skyfaller damn... my phone needs transcripts that I can search

oh well

gavinb besides adding a preamble, do you think we should flesh out the mission statement?

that is, leave the key points, but just sort of explain them / expand on them?

skyfaller well, I think the test cases are important, because they may reveal whether we are missing something or not

or whether the statement is overbroad

and I don't want people to be surprised... like, "Wait, *that's* covered by the mission statement?"

so far, it seems that the mission statement is good

but I'm not confident that we've tested it enough

and that's something I'd like to do before we finalize this as a board

gavinb the issue there would be the 2nd part of the mission statement

skyfaller if, for instance, this is does not cover the One Laptop Per Child project, it should be clear whether that is an accident of wording, or something that we chose on purpose not to cover

gavinb the 1st part is solid as far as i'm concerned... the only question is exactly what "IP" we're concerned with, and i think we want to leave that open

skyfaller yes

gavinb the question of "cultural participation" is pretty broad, even with "esp. new tech"... but i don't know how we would narrow that

skyfaller (the fact that we say "intellectual property" makes me cringe a bit, I know RMS will be bugging us again)

well, does the mission statement as written cover the OLPC program? if not, why not?

surely if everyone had a computer and were connected to the internet, that would help them participate in culture on a global scale

mllerustad Yeah.

skyfaller one problem is that it violates a principle we've stuck to in the past, to be "government-agnostic"

gavinb again, i don't really want to get into hair-splitting

mllerustad "government-agnostic"?

skyfaller we agree that it would be nice if everyone had a laptop and internet access, but we don't want to specifically say that the way to do this is through a top-down gov't program

gavinb i think we should return to the question of how / if to clarify / specific what we mean by "IP" and "cultural participation"... but i don't think this is the place

skyfaller OK, well, maybe we should write down the questions that we are raising here and return to them later

gavinb the beauty of a chatlog

mllerustad Indeed.

skyfaller mllerustad: basically, we want to be friendly to all ends of the political spectrum, including the libertarians

gavinb i don't know about all ends

mllerustad skyfaller: Yeah, I understand.

gavinb i'd say everyone from social democrats to libertarians if you're outside that spectrum, i don't think we can help much

skyfaller gavinb: well, we can't work with authoritarians...

gavinb ...ok...?

mllerustad Alright, on to values?

skyfaller ... but if we could without compromising our principles I don't think we'd be opposed to it... but anyway

(a chatlog isn't sufficient, we should really compress this into minutes)

gavinb that'd be nice, i agree

|<-- JoiIto has left freenode ("This computer has gone to sleep")

skyfaller so, what are the questions that we've raised so far?

gavinb let's not sit here and collaboratively take minutes

skyfaller ... I guess this is a separate meeting, so I'll start a new page and link to it from Meetings

gavinb if one of us wants minutes badly enough, he'll make them

if not, they won't get made

skyfaller OK, fine

moving on then


mllerustad What do you mean by "sustainability"?

gavinb well, this is a tricky one... i'm not convinced myself that we need a "statement of values"... i have fixed meelings

sustainability specifically in tech and ip... e.g. one of the problems people raise with close file formats is that documents may be inaccessible when hardware or software change... so having open formats makes it more sustainable in the long term

mllerustad Ah...

gavinb in the same way, continually robbing from the public domain isn't sustainable, it leaves us with less and less in the commons to build upon

skyfaller it's a bit of a funny way to phrase it, but I can't think of another single word that would cover it

gavinb the classical definition of sustainability is "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"

mllerustad Yeah... I'm used to seeing it in an environmental context.

skyfaller this is true.... I guess what I mean is that most everyone will think that we're referring to environmental sustainability

gavinb yeah, but it seems to be that it's just as applicable to tech and ip

skyfaller ... I think we definitely would have to include a definition with it, then, to show how we are using the word differently than one might expect

mllerustad Maybe with a modifier... Cultural sustainability? Information sustainability?

skyfaller in fact, I think all of these may require elaboration

mllerustad Really?

gavinb i think we definitely want to elaborate on everything in the statement of values (if we keep it at all)

see the talk page

i'm not sure whether adding a modifier is the best way to address the issue with sustainability... maybe, maybe not. maybe pairing it with something else would do the job, too. so we have 3 options there (modifier, pair, or only elaborate)

mllerustad As for the page itself, I think it's useful, if nothing else than to break down the mission statement into more digestible pieces.

gavinb i think having a "values of the free culture movement" would be handy, as a way to define ourselves

that said, i'm not sure about everything on the list, or what should be added, or order, pairing, or anything else... aside from the issue of adding an explanatory paragraph to each

anything jump out to you?

skyfaller I think this is a useful document to have, but each of the terms def needs elaboration... I'm just a little worried that the more we write the more difficult it will be able to get people to agree to it

but as long as we work with that concern in mind, I think we'll do alright

mllerustad Do we want to work on elaborations now, or save that for later?

gavinb later, i think

mllerustad Alright.

gavinb the point that seems particularly contentious to me is "democracy"

mllerustad How so?

gavinb they seem removed from each other... not really related

i'm sort of not convinced of how this whole 'values' works

it started with reverse engineering: looking at what we care about and asking why

mllerustad Hm.

skyfaller yeah, I think we're doing a lot of reverse engineering... the only problem with that is you're assuming that we have rational principles behind what we believe in ^_^

gavinb sorry -- a guy just tried to sell my magazines


anyway... so i thought of something like dmitry sklyarov, and asked, what's the principle here? why do we care?

skyfaller hey guys, I have to go soon... what do we need to accomplish before I leave

gavinb and the issue was we imprisoned a guy for coming to our country to talk about something he did in his country, where it was legal, and it's a bad law anyway

which lead me to believe that not only are we about not having crappy copyright law, but also more basic principles of fairness and justice

mllerustad skyfaller: I don't think we'll be making any more decisions today... probably just be talking about the values.

I've got minutes.

skyfaller mllerustad: OK, awesome

well, no, we met up to get the ball rolling on this stuff before Friday, and I want to make sure that we're doing our job

gavinb i think the values are lower-priority than the other 3 docs, anyway... i think we should table them 'til the others are done

skyfaller if we didn't accomplish what we need to accomplish, we need to meet again tomorrow

or work separately

on whatever needs doing

gavinb we are meeting tomorrow

mllerustad What time?

gavinb elizabeth said 3

= 2 pm cst

skyfaller ... no, that's Friday

gavinb oh, tomorrow's not friday?

my bad

skyfaller no dude, today is Weds

break is getting to your brain already

you're going soft

gavinb uh, so we should figure out where we go from here... that's the point of all this

i think clearly we want the legislative principles done before the policy paper

mllerustad Yeah.

skyfaller anyway, what did we want to do? we wanted to start thinking about the documents on the table and figure out what needs to be done to them before they're finalized at Harvard

gavinb i think those 2 are more important to get done before the mission statement or whatever else

skyfaller yeah, the more important stuff goes first

... well, I'm not sure that anything can come before the mission statement

that really needs to be done first

before we know whether we're justified in doing anything else

gavinb i think if we know the key points of the mission statement, it doesn't have to be complete

skyfaller well, we can't get funding or anything if we don't have a mission statemnt


it's just a really basic thing to have

gavinb funding isn't an issue right now

skyfaller and should have been done long ago

it's certainly something that has to be finalized at Harvard

gavinb there is an election in november... once the calendar says "2006" it's really on

skyfaller and we should put work into it before then

gavinb we want to have the legislative principles and policy paper to start showing to candidates

skyfaller I'm all for finishing that at Harvard too

but both need to be done

gavinb the mission statement is definitely something we want... but it's the policy paper i want done by Harvard

having the outline of a mission statement is enough for me until we have the policy paper

skyfaller mllerustad: what do you thinik?


gavinb we could get hung up for weeks on the precise wording of a mission statement, since we'll want it to be very good

skyfaller gavinb: but we need at least a working draft

mllerustad I don't think there's really that much left to do to the mission statement that there's an either/or.

I think once we get some sort of preamble on it, it'll be working, and we can then leave fine-tuning the language (the whole "intellectual property" thing, etc) later.

skyfaller I guess I think what's there is fine, while we need a preamble and justifications through test cases, those are things we can do later

maybe we can come to consensus on what's there now

and run with it

I dunno

gavinb like i said, i think we sketch it out and say it's fine for now

skyfaller I guess we can work on the legislative stuff first, but I want it all done by the end of Harvard

gavinb within our term, i want to adopt a finalized mission statement

but by Harvard, i want a finalized policy paper

mllerustad If they come into conflict, we'll figure it out there.

gavinb i'm not sure we can have all 3 done by Harvard

mllerustad But with any luck, they won't.

gavinb they'll come into conflict before then, i'm afraid

there's too much to be done on them, and nobody's going to be working in the days around christmas

skyfaller well, can we start working on them tomorrow?

let's set another time to meet tomorrow

maybe the same time tomorrow?

let's poke at the documents on the wiki ourselves tonight

mllerustad Alright.

skyfaller esp the legislative stuff, since Gavin wants those done

and come back with our thoughts and concerns in the morning

sound like a plan? does 11am EST work for y'all


mllerustad Sure, I can drag myself out of bed... :)

gavinb yeah... with the legislative principles, all i've started to do is copy & paste from the linked docs, with some edits

skyfaller gavinb: OK, sounds good... we'll see what we can do

gavinb i think the linked docs are fundamentally good, but neither really suits our purposes, i think

skyfaller alright, talk to you both at 11am tomorrow?

let's meet in here

gavinb so i think we should retain as much as possible of those docs, and play off the fact that it's based on them, but we want it to be our own

please give it a look today if you can and see what you think

mllerustad Alright.

skyfaller I'll prob be free later tonight

gavinb see you at 11 then

mllerustad See ya.