Or, how healthy and sane distributed organisms reject the transplantation of stupid.
You’ve heard of EEE: “embrace, extend, extinguish”. Today we’re going to look at some of its lesser known variations, starting with “embrace, smother, repurpose”.
This is what happened to CentOS. RedHat takes it under its wing, and all goes well for a while. More resources for CentOS, all pumped to deliver version 8 with support until the second coming. Except, that doesn’t actually help acquire new RedHat subscriptions, at least not directly.
Along comes CentOS Stream, which nobody needed or wanted, as the main selling point of CentOS/RHEL is its extremely long support cycle. No other free (both as in freedom and cost) distro has a support cycle of that length. A rolling release version of CentOS is as useful as wings on an elephant. Flap all you want, no takeoff will occur.
RedHat eventually pulled the plug on regular old LTS CentOS, in favor of keeping the new, RHEL-beta under a different but very well known, FOSSy brand. Which we can only suppose to be much more useful for business. One less distro to maintain, the remaining one possibly funneling stability prioritizing admins towards a cushy yearly subscription.
However, the organism rejected the stupid. Distributed organisms do this by disassembly and reassembly. CentOS is but an empty shell, something with the same name but no other resemblance to its former self. Its personality though, lives on, under other names but with the same substance.
Up next: “embrace, inject, override”.
Lee’s embrace of freenode occurred a long time ago. As for the injection, I’m not entirely sure. I avoid reading drama these days. This rant is not about the drama, but the effect.
Libera.chat is an interesting situation because the rejection of the stupid happened not at the end of the third phase but at the beginning. At the faintest smell of override, freenode (the substance, not the name), immediately disassembled. And, as any distributed organism of stature does, quickly reassembled under a different shell almost unscathed, with barely any change to its substance. The (unpaid) admins left, and one by one the channels, and thus the users, followed.
Another interesting difference between this case and the former is that unlike ex-CentOS, which is a prime example of higher level Darwinism in the sense that the new generation of spawn is inoculated against the ills that caused its parent’s untimely demise, libera.chat is more an example of a type of osmotic skin shedding, one where the skin is left behind, intact and unbroken, and most of the substance leaves the shell through the pores rather than any other large opening, eventually forming another shell for itself.
After this process is complete, all the injector can do is to keep the empty shell. To what purpose, we will see.
I would now like to draw your attention to the fact that these EEE attempts, or variations thereof, are going on all the time. The main goal of these attempts is usually consumption, and transplanted parts are almost invariably less healthy than the target organism (otherwise, there would be no upside). The corporate is hungry and these distributed organisms have juicy, healthy livers.
Or, as is the case with the FSF, they’re also in the way and being pesky. The FSF’s situation is rather curious because RMS’s ideological (and bodily, it seems) aroma makes this organism unfit for corporate consumption as is. But it has the healthiest, juiciest liver. So the main purpose of an injection here is first and foremost not to transplant, but to amputate.
There is much talk these days about RMS, the founder of FSF returning to the board of FSF and IBM refusing to have him, popular demand, vote, or otherwise.
I could list countless articles here as a detailed research on the matter, but the plethora of them TOTALLY MISS THE ISSUE.
Who decides and how is a decision made? Is it influence by rational arguments or is it a choke-hold maneuver that even his (RMS’s) dearest of friends can’t escape?
The rational argument by IBM, and their fellow mutually interested global giant corporations, is “YOU DO AS WE SAY, OR NO MONEY COMING TO YOU“.
This is what every democracy in the planet has been reduced to, every democratic process that “tolerated” money/funding to be part of the decision making process.
The corporate overplayed its injection in this case.
The FSF does not depend on large single sources of funding. It accepts and appreciates support from corporations who want to give back by contributing to the development and advocacy for free software, but direct corporate support accounted for less than 3% of FSF revenue in its most recently audited fiscal year.
(from the FSF itself)
In addition to having the healthiest liver, this organization’s immune system ended up reversing the amputation, hinting at the presence of a stellar spleen. A reversal not without consequence, but still impressive.
The issue with corporate is that it is always centralized. As such, it doesn’t quite get the nature and world of the distributed organism it seeks to consume.
It puzzles and wonders how it functions with multiple bodies, sometimes without a head, sometimes with many, and is able to appear in multiple places at a time.
It scratches its head, bewildered, wondering why the organism doesn’t readily amputate its many members which are flailing about uncontrollably, bereft of acceptance of central authority.
It gasps in awe and shock when half of the body of a recently consumed distributed organism suddenly leaves its stomach to form yet another distributed organism with an uncanny resemblance to the one which was just consumed, but with an unrecognizable name.
Nowhere is corporate’s true lack of understanding of the distributed organism more apparent than in its treatment of names. To corporate, its name is everything. All the value of a corporate is in its name.
It exerts its influence and impact in the world through its name. When the name dies, corporate almost always dies with it. So, when attempting to consume a distributed organism, it will always start with the name, assuming that is the location of the juicy innards.
But for a distributed organism, a name is but a tether point around which its parts gravitate. It will ditch its name for survival, for preference, for compliance, for shits and giggles or because it’s Tuesday.
Corporate consumes the name, and stays hungry. Please, continue. We are very much enjoying this season of Organizational Geographic: Distributed Darwinian Mechanics.