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GeekPAC looks for volunteer help, names Eric Raymond as board member

By on April 15, 2002 (8:00:00 AM)

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- By Grant Gross -
The American Open Technology Consortium, the geek lobbying organization that began getting media attention last week, has raised nearly $30,000 in pledges without really asking for them yet, and organizers are thinking about splitting the group in two comply with U.S. political action committee rules.
Organizer Jeff Gerhardt, host of the Linux Show, has revised the group's position statement since news of the AOTC's pending launch was first reported on NewsForge April 8. The goal of the AOTC itself, which organizers hope to create as a charitable organization, would to educate the public and politicians about issues near and dear to Open Source advocates and Internet users at large. The second organization, the proposed GeekPAC, would be a more traditional political action committee, with its focus on directly impacting the outcome of elections and legislation. GeekPAC wouldn't accept corporate donations, while AOTC would.

"So far, in conversations with lawyers, the dual organization structure proposed in the latest proposed Position Statement ... has passed basic legal muster," Gerhardt says. "So we are now interviewing lawyers for the task of creating documentation on the PAC."

Also announced today was the group's first board member, veteran Open Source advocate Eric Raymond, with more to follow in the coming weeks. "We are announcing Eric first, because he is helping craft the language of our documents, and I think people ought to know that we are not doing this alone," Gerhardt says. "We are using some of the best geek minds in the world. "

In the meantime, AOTC would use more help to get launched, Gerhardt says. Although "we have had several hundred people pledge in spirit both volunteer sweat equity and cash" once the group launches, to the tune of nearly $30,000, an angel investor would help the group take its first steps, he says.

"The problem is, when we pick the law firm, we need seed money to get the process in motion," he writes in an email to a couple of Web journalists today. "It will be way 'cleaner' if we can find an angel do donate $5,000 to $10,000 to get the ball rolling. It will be way easier to do this (legally), by getting all the money from a single source, rather than by pushing the edge of the legal envelope, starting to do a general fund raiser BEFORE the papers are filed. So guys, the bottom line is: we need an angel. If you know of any dot com millionaires that have not been wiped out yet -- or any other folks whose largesse might be attracted to our mission here, please spread the word."

Organizers Gerhardt and Doc Searls of Linux Journal are also looking for two teams of volunteer Web developers to build sites for and, both of which Gerhardt hopes to launch this week. Gerhardt and Searls are looking for developers at the moment, artists later.

"Although the AOTC site IS NOT going to be a news portal, we are looking for people who have worked on a portal or who understand how to harvest from other sites," Gerhardt says. "We need to integrate stuff from at least four other sites into this site, and it is likely that list of source sites will grow. "For the GeekPAC site we are looking for people who know CGI or JAVA (Tom Cat available) and have at least a clue about MySQL database," he adds. "We are going to create a very elaborate 'score card' system for tracking house and senate members and issuing them a 'Report Card.' From that report card we will be integrating a payment system to donate moneys directly to campaign funds. We are going to call this system 'GeekPAC Incentive Bucks.' "

AOTC organizers are also working on further documents that "discuss not just what we are against, but what we are for and how we propose to do what we suggest," Gerhardt says. "Rather than just whine, we need to provide realistic alternatives that everyone can live with -- or we will lose."

Gerhardt says such position statements are necessary because AOTC is already being criticized as anti-business in some media, with its goals including a consumer-friendly Microsoft antitrust settlement and limits on corporate control of the Internet. "We do NOT want people to think we are anti-business or anti-private property," he says. "We are far from it. It is just coming up with solutions that provide a safety net for everyone, not just a corporate welfare program."

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on GeekPAC looks for volunteer help, names Eric Raymond as board member

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Oh dear

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 16, 2002 04:12 AM
Eric Raymond? I just lost interest. Please, won't someone form a free software lobby without crackpot zealots?


Re:Oh dear

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 17, 2002 12:46 AM
Hey... they could have put RMS in too.


Reinventing the wheel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 16, 2002 04:26 AM
When this was first announced I thought it wasn't to bad of an idea. However there is already a very good, and highly effective lobbying organization for the Internet Industry that's been active for over 5 years. They have done more for the industry and have a much better "voice" in congrass than any other organization, including the EFF. They are the <A HREF="">USIIA</a> and I recomended that the OTC contact the USIIA. There's no sense in doing the work that someone else has already done.

As a side note, I agree that ESR would be a hinderance rather than an asset to the cause.



Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 16, 2002 04:57 AM
I will not contribute to a group with Eric S. Raymond operating as a representative. He is not representative of my beliefs; neither in the "Open Source" community nor in the general political arena. Put RMS or Bradley Kuhn or Ed Felton up there and I'll consider it.



Posted by: zangdesign on April 16, 2002 05:21 AM
Ah, but just as ESR has detractors, so does RMS. I won't support any organization with RMS as the leader.


What irony

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 16, 2002 06:57 AM
People don't seem to support ESR in this, but for opposite reasons.

As seen in posts #11034 and #11037, one person thinks ESR is a crackpot zealot, but the other doesn't support him and favors the FSF people who are actually more radical than ESR.

I guess it's not good to be in the middle...


Re:What irony

Posted by: Matthew J. Turk on April 16, 2002 07:20 AM
As seen in posts #11034 and #11037, one person thinks ESR is a crackpot zealot, but the other doesn't support him and favors the FSF people who are actually more radical than ESR.

I think it's very important to note that the Free Software people don't use their positions as "celebrities" to promote their own political beliefs. For instance, ESR's tirade about gun control and its effect on September 11 - do you think that would have been posted to Newsforge if he had been Joe Schmo?



Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 16, 2002 10:43 AM
I just quickly glanced at their pages... they seem to support the DMCA and do not mention the infamous CBDTPA anywhere that I could see. Doesn't really seem like my kind of org. I dunno. I don't know much about this Eric Raymond that everyone is talking trash about, but I like the GeekPAC idea of detailed tracking of what senators are voting for... you have to keep one eye on those sneaky buggers.


Eric The Wannabe.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 16, 2002 03:53 PM
Eric along with his political views and sissy karate is a JOKE.

That aside, most of the code he has written in projects has had to be rewritten, because it's of poor quality. Now that's OK, everyone is welcome to contribute, but don't try to pass yourself off as some great programmer, when all you are is just a bit below average. And please don't try to take over a project when you are clearly not qualified.

But I guess being a professional BS artist does pay off sometimes(He was a philosophy major), it appears someone is buying it.


ESR &amp; RMS &amp; complainers...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 16, 2002 08:07 PM
I'm puzzled why folks here have so many negitive reactions to ESR or RMS. Both have done an incredible job helping us all over the past few decades.

No, that does not mean that you can't be critical of them, but have some perspective folks. Either of them are logical members to ask for membership to the board of a group like this.

Till I see others here put thier money or time into these PAC(s) -- and yes I have a check set aside right now waiting for them to be finalized -- I don't want to hear your armchair complaints.


Please refer to as AOTC, not GeekPAC

Posted by: jeffy124 on April 17, 2002 12:18 AM
I would prefer the community refer to this org as AOTC as opposed to GeekPAC. People the group is trying lobby (senators, members of congress, etc) _will_ be more receptive to a group calling themselves "American Open Technology Consortium". If you think I'm crazy, put yourself in the shoes of an elected official.



Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 17, 2002 01:06 AM
You don't like him, you don't like him over there....

Hey! Take what you can get, and do what you can with it; otherwise, nobody gives a damn.

If you don't want to do that, then do as Craig Mundie says:

"Get some money."

Then, you can do anything you want. People sell their souls cheap these days.

Especially our so-called American leaders. Government and industrial and otherwise.

No matter what you do, remember this: "The road to salvation is steep and narrow. The road to oblivion is wide and beautiful."



Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 17, 2002 02:23 AM
As far as certain people being "extremists"...
we need some extremism on OUR side to counter all the nutcases on the OTHER side. We should welcome
"zealots" and "extremists" who want to fight on our behalf.

where do I send the check?


Know Your Friends, Know Your Enemies

Posted by: olsonco on April 17, 2002 06:41 AM
All of the commentary about Eric S. Raymond and Richard M. Stallman is just plain silly.

Anyone who uses or benefits from Free or Open Source Software (pretty much anyone who uses the internet) owes them both a huge debt of gratitude. They are both brilliant, dedicated, and passionate proponents of ideas which they know to be important.

And the splitting of hairs about who is more or less radical or who would belong to which organization depending on who else is affiliated is just detrimental to anyone interested in what the GeekPAC is setting out to accomplish.

If the GeekPAC represents your views, then you should be supportive of their efforts. If they don't then you shouldn't.

But don't focus vitriol on someone whose views you may have some sort of grievance with to the detriment of the greater goal of the effort.




Posted by: Matthew J. Turk on April 17, 2002 07:21 AM
I would like to state why I am against supporting the "GeekPAC" with ESR on the board.

Mr. Raymond has, in the past, used his clout as an "Open Source" advocate (some say guru) to advocate non-software related ideas - most notably, his post-September 11th <A HREF=""> essay</a> about decentralization and, among other things, carrying weapons on airplanes. (Please also note this <A HREF="">rebuttal</a> by Bruce Tober.)

I'm leery of ESR for those reasons. In the past, RMS has been known to have very blatant political beliefs - but he specifically seperates his beliefs on non-software issues. If I could be sure that Mr. Raymond would only lobby and campaign for software issues, I would consider supporting the PAC. (I do have objections to Open Source as opposed to Free Software, but I think I would be able to ignore those in the interests of common good.)



Posted by: Matthew J. Turk on April 18, 2002 12:17 AM
Ha, whoops. Here are the two links:

<A HREF="">ESR's essay</a>

<A HREF="">Bruce Tober's rebuttal</a>


no mention of CTEA, public domain--so no dough

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 19, 2002 02:04 AM
Until I see the need for a shorter term of copyright mentioned clearly and explicitly in the position statement, I won't even consider joining GeekPAC.


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