[Dev] Reflection on the Relationship of Money and Parabola

Nicolás Reynolds fauno at endefensadelsl.org
Tue Jan 6 16:56:14 GMT 2015

Luke Shumaker <lukeshu at sbcglobal.net> writes:

> OK, now that I have a nice strong beverage I can begin discussing
> this.  This kind of conversation isn't the type I come to this list to
> have :/

sometimes it's awesome when a project is awesome and everyone has a
different idea about why that is.  i think there's no other technical
list/channel where discussions like this are welcome :)

i think having a discussion about sustainability, money, work, is a
needed discussion in every libre project.  being catasthrophic, we're
always at the brink of demise, since people and their time comes and
goes while other, always unfree, projects amass endless resources to be
always ahead of us.

we can't be fair, libre and in constant struggle for survival! but
meanwhile we can have solidarity and friendship :)

> I'm pretty sure Aurélien feels worn out by this discussion, and I
> don't blame him.

of course! when someone's burning out the community should be aware of
this and try to care about its members.  we can't lose friendships over
transient discussions.

i'm trying to talk with aurelien but i'm currently on a nanovacation so
i don't have much time in front of a computer.

> My stance: as much as I would *love* to receive a cheque for my work
> on Parabola, I think that money distributed among developers is a
> terrible idea.
> I'm OK with receiving donations that cover expenses.  I think I'd even
> be OK with using donations to employ one of us full-time (though I'm
> skeptical that we would raise even close to enough money to do that).
> But rationing out the money is a terrible idea.

we were talking with mimex about this and he pointed out that it's
difficult to have an idea of how much money or resources are needed
since there isn't a list of current expenses and hacker needs.

i don't think 

> There was a study that I can't find (because the keywords are utterly
> unhelpful) that showed that introducing money into a community like
> this poisons it, even if it seems like a strict improvement.  Once
> someone is receiving a few dollars for something, at some subconscious
> level it stops being a donation/volunteering.  I remember the example
> of asking your friends to help you move; buy them pizza and drinks
> afterward and everyone's happy; offer them $15 afterward, and
> everyone's bitter, even though the value of what you have them is
> roughly the same[^1].  Whatever you give them [whatever donations we
> receive], are way under the value of the labor put in.  Anything
> money less than that is insulting (even if slightly illogical).

i think this is the case if we fail to acknowledge and denaturalize our
relationship with money and labor.  having helped a friend and receiving
a tip in reward makes us bitter because we were acting on solidarity but
we were treated as cheap workers.

i can see why it's important that, assuming parabola as a community of
friends, introducing wages (or measly tips) could bitter previous

i believe we really need to overcome this limitation, but i'm not sure
how.  we tend to think of wage relationships as exploitaitive because
they're.  you have to be in a place you maybe don't like or rather spend
that time in someplace else, with co-workers that can accidentaly become
your friends, you have a series of bosses and you're paid way below the
value you produce.  parabola has never been such a place!

but otherwise you have to spend the time you'd rather be using for
something more cheerful to have a wage so you can pay your expenses.
that's capitalism!

we need to overcome this contradiction and create ways of not needing a
wage to keep alive, while doing the stuff we love.  is receiving
donations along the way there?

> And speaking from my own perspective, as nice as it would be to
> receive a cheque; unless it's somehow enough that I can consider
> myself employed by Parabola and avoid getting another job, then it's
> not a very good use of the money.  It wouldn't affect my contributions
> in any way, it wouldn't substantially affect my happiness.

but will it affect your happiness if someone else is paid for roughly
the same contributions that you made voluntarily? just asking :)

disparity and inequality have always been used against us, to demoralize
any attempt of solidarity.

> OTOH, if the funds sent me a BBB, that would likely be a pretty good
> use of the money, as it is a piece of hardware that would directly
> allow me to contribute in new ways. (on the other (third? :P) hand, if
> you did send be a BBB, I'd probably end up just feeling really guilty
> that I was wasting it, and not putting more time into the ARM port.
> Both because of other obligations sucking my time away, and because
> I'm a lazy/selfish bastard who works on things that he finds
> interesting, instead of what you guys tell him is important.  How long
> has automatic source-ball creation been a feature request in the bug
> tracker?)
> I know when I discussed this with Aurélien on IRC (sorry, I don't have
> chat logs), and mentioned receiving donations for expenses, Aurélien
> still objected.  He said that whatever our needs are, we should ask
> for those directly from the community, instead of asking for money.
> Several other users have piped up with their support for that idea;
> a project can exist entirely through donated *stuff*, as we do.  I can
> definitely get behind that.

you mean donations as servers, domain names, etc.?

> OTOH, having a pot of spare money would allow us to do experiments and
> things that we might not otherwise do because of the overhead of
> coordinating with someone else over the resources.  In my discussion
> with Aurélien, I used the example of a separate build server for
> automated builds.  He said ~"great, ask for someone to donate a
> server."  I didn't have a good response at the time, but I think I do
> now: That kind of misses my point; if we can try new things that have
> expenses without as much overhead, then it allows us to try more cool
> new things.
> Let me put it this way: There are a lot of pros and cons to whatever
> decision we make.  My support of any decision in this matter is
> contingent upon Aurélien's support.  If Aurélien does not fully
> support whatever is decided, then neither do I.  I don't necessarily
> agree with him; I may try to sway his opinion; but without his full
> support, you don't have mine.


> OK, so what is the end that the money is a mean to?  What needs
> qualify a developer to receive funds?  Who gets to judge their cases?

this community!!

> And with money, we have to have some sort of formal administration.
> Someone would have to be a "representative" with Ceata or the SFC or
> whatever and decide where money goes.  Do we democratize all of those
> communications like we do everything else?  Do we elect a
> representative (republicanize) for efficiency?  As much as a I love
> our wholly democratic structure, it has severe inefficiencies.  For a
> year and a half (since July 2013) I've been trying to ratify a couple
> of wording changes to our social contract.  I mean, whatever.  But
> that's not really going to fly once a foundation with money is
> involved.

delegation is not the same as representation.  we can delegate specific
people to act as proxies between us and ceata, but it'd be in our hands
to reach consensus in what we want.  a representative is given a blank
cheque, a delegate is given a mandate.

when someone adhocratically assumes a task, she's self-assuming a
delegation that can be revoked/recalled by the community at any time, if
it's clear that adhocracy is the "copyleft" of participatory,
consensus-based, democracy.

external agents don't necessarily need to understand or see this
process, and from what i've experienced in several years-long adhocratic
projects, we're still experimenting.

> I don't recall if it was Tiberiu wrote, or something from the SFC (I
> can't find it now (strong beverage, remember :P), but I distinctly
> remember the mention that with the bureaucratic duties of being such a
> representative, one might have less time for technical contributions.
> Which is a bummer, so far be it from me to pressure someone into that.
> But, if he's interested, and we go forward with such a plan: I
> nominate fauno.  Other hackers come and go, he's been constant.


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