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Editor's Note: Sometimes We Grow Up

Nov 13, 2010, 00:03 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

Jono Bacon's announcement of the OpenRespect.org project was met with the usual mix of reactions, from approval to charges it is really "The Quit Picking on Ubuntu" project.

Jono is the Community Manager of Ubuntu. He is a musician who releases recordings under a free-in-full Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. He wrote The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation. He co-hosted LugRadio. He's probably done a lot of other things.

In short, like most of us, he is a multi-faceted person with a lot of interests. Unlike most folks, he puts himself out there in public view. Anyone with the tiniest public presence, in this brave new Internet era, is a target for every complainer and angry psychopath on the planet. Being a public figure these days means being a target for more criticism and crazy talk than you ever thought possible. It takes courage and focus to keep on going in the face of the noise. You're out there in wide open, while the little trollies and whingers are taking their shots from their safe hideouts where you can't reach them.

It was no surprise when Jono's announcement of the OpenRespect project was met with the usual mix of positive and negative responses. My own initial feeling was a snitty "Welcome to the Quit Picking on Ubuntu Tour." Fortunately, aside from a comment on Jono's Facebook page I kept that to myself. But as my mommy tried to teach me, it is quite acceptable to have unexpressed thoughts. It's really not necessary for anyone to express every opinion they have on everything. Especially first impressions, before you have the facts.

Past Sins

A comment on Linux Today caught my attention:
"Remember his LugRadio personna?
Bombastic, opionated, condescending, passive-aggressive and willing to call out people and projects.
I use to love the podcast for that irreverence.
That show would not pass his newfound zen attitude.
I dont blame him. We all grow up, put on a suit and get a real job. We get older. Some get wiser.
Its just ironic that the very persona which made him famous in FLOSS is the one he wants to tone down.
I dont have problems with having civility but dictating it is a tricky thing and the great LugRadio segment Hype or Shite would fall afoul of his newfound tolerance if it was around.
We all eventually become our own fathers, I get that but Bacon wants other young people to not do the things they did for that.
There is a word for that."

That seems a fair criticism in some ways, and even the implied accusation of hypocrisy. I asked Jono what he thought:

"I understand where the poster is coming from, but I think there is a difference between satire and respect. LugRadio was all about satire, and while we certainly accidentally took it a little too far at times as we were all were (and still are) idiots, I believe that there is a difference between satirical commentary and disrespectful conflict-orientated discourse. Satire pokes fun, and OpenRespect never wants to stop people poking fun, but OpenRespect is encourage people to have civil debate that doesn't descend into bickering and name calling.

"Not sure I have grown up yet, in fact I am getting ready to go and play a thrash metal show tonight in Livermore, but I do think we live and learn, and while I am intensely proud of our achievements in LugRadio, I consider LugRadio a satirical show that in itself helped me learn more about respect, particularly from the times we overstepped our bounds. Wow, that statement makes me think maybe I am growing up. I am going to go and put some comfortable slacks on and make a nice cup of tea..."

In other words, different behaviors for different circumstances. Figuring out how to work constructively with other people is hard. That's life; good things take work.

Maybe Jono is a hypocrite who wants it all ways. I don't think so, but so what if he is? We're all imperfect, we all have pasts full of mistakes, and if all we do is focus a critical, judgmental lens on everything we'll never accomplish anything. I think a reasonable baseline is to expect everyone to try, even a little, to get along with their fellow humans.