[clug] Open Source Legislation
Chris.Gough at cit.act.edu.au
Tue Jul 8 16:40:47 EST 2003
I have no experience in lobying politians, but have given this some thought
and now feel inclined to share them and make myself look like an idiot.
Politians are a type professional sales person. The chalenge Carl presented
us with is to help them sell the idea of open source, and to do that we must
ourselves first sell them the idea.
I have observes sales people in the wild, and learned their techniques
these things called "Units of Conviction" (UOC) in their systems of
manipulation. A UOC has three parts; a claim, a fact, and a statement of
benefit (in that order). UOCs are strung together in recursive structures,
and are pretty much the only thing to come out of the mouth of sales people
in sales mode (although, the better ones are more subtle about it that those
rude ones that shout at you through your television).
The claim exists to attract your attention, and dosn't need to be true from
more than one point of view (sometimes they are bald faced lies,
realy does seem to be almost completly irellevant in claims). The fact part
has some relationship to the claim, although dosn't have to prove it's
Sales people (the political type in particular) are adriot at avoiding
discussions about facts, however they probably feel better about true facts.
What's important about facts is that they are memorable, i.e. simple and
to visualise, and that they can not be used to counter the argument (i.e.
matched to a counter claim). Information content of facts seems to be of
little importance, i.e. it's OK of they prove meaningless under close
Where is this all going? well, the benefit part is by far and away the most
important part of a UOC. Decisions are made based on benefit statements. If
I were realy serious about arming a politian to sell open source (and i
it's probably a good thing to do), the first thing I would focus my efforts
on would be to cataloug the benefits. From there it would be relatively easy
to find facts that fit them, and it's realy the politicians job to come up
the claims to sell them (although some help might be good there too).
Now, the final caveat on this theory of sales behavior is that emotional
values are the most important type of benefit. Nevermind the new and
safety features, this new car will make you feel like a James Bond
(and that's what you realy want, isn't it?). I agree that saving the
money apeals to me (if it translates into less tax), and I agree that system
security makes me (as a geek) feel better about the personal information i
coerced into divulging (but most of the electorate are not geeks). What
values does Open Source have, what are the emotional "leverage points" can
politians use make themselves look good?
I noticed Kim Beasily (after he set himself up to prove to the electorate
Simon Crean can win a popularity contest) selling "Australian Values" in an
interview on the ABC. This seems to be popular theme, the PM has used the
"Mateship" very sentimentaly on TV too. I think this is a clearly defined
leverage point that could be used to construct benefit statements about open
It's the Australian way (mateship, blah blah blah). We lead the world in
(example example). Keep the money at home, mateship and hip pocket blah blah
Our collective inteligence could surely identify a number of such emotional
values that open source benefits. Then we could come up with quotable
and trivia that illustrate those ideas. Sending that lot to the politicians
would make their job easy, and as our political opponents know, politians
prone to taking the easy choice.
Sorry about all the words, i'm ranting, but there you have it.
From: Carl Jackson
To: Canberra Linux Lovers Club
Sent: 7/07/2003 5:49 PM
Subject: [clug] Open Source Legislation
I'm Carl Jackson, this is my first post to the list.
I run my small Canberra company that writes software on Debian
I've joined to see if any of the members would be interested in
helping to lobby our local political reps regarding Open Source
software - its a critical moment right now and I'm hoping that there are
some people on this list that feel strongly enough to make their voices
I'm pretty nervous about bringing this up even with a Linux group
that should in theorey be right behind it - my experience with my fellow
IT ppl and political issues is that they not very focussed on the
"common interest" and are more interested in expressing their quirky,
individualistic and disparate views in a way that often undermines any
attempt to form a united front. But to achieve anything like this a
united front is just what is required - numbers matter more than ideas
You may have noticed that Open Source Legislation has been in the
news in the last week - its being considered in SA and by NSW Labor.
Canberra has a healthy self interest in this - if, for example, the
assembly passed a bill to nudge the territory public service towards
considering OS favourably in all tenders, then that could act as a
model for a Federal bill which would in turn take a lot of money
currently going to vendors of proprietary software in the US and divert
it to OS companies in Canberra.
I'm looking for letter writers, people with personal contacts in
the Libs or Labor, and any info that might help as a lobbying weapon -
particularly uses of Open Source in US Governments - federal or state.
Heavy lobbying against any pro-OS legislation has already begun by a US
funded group representing proprietary software interests - a strong
grass roots campaign will be required to beat it. This is THE chance
to win this debate - once policies have been released by the parties
things will get much trickier.
I believe early positions will be formed by both major parties in
the next 2-3 weeks - if you want to make a difference now is the time.
Please contact me me off list if you want to help.
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