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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quell the flames, Shift the gears: Educate b4 propose.

Ubuntu for Students just hit a stalemate and needs a new direction.
Here's the past few days in a nutshell.  It almost gripped me like a ceaseless roller coaster ride.

The story?

The idea that was burgeoning for a few weeks now until it hit an all-time high in publicity within my school in a few days.  It all started with a suggestion to create a Facebook Group on Ubuntu for Students.  Within hours, the group proliferated to 200 members. For me, it felt exciting to see a large audience of students base up around this... until I felt the bitter taste of the opposition through a junior named Terrence Diaz, who has used Ubuntu before.  But the opposition I sensed in him was unprecedented, as if a tiny part of him was screaming, "Why the sudden change?"



When I inadvertently created the mushroom cloud at school, I didn't realize how far-reaching it was going to be in my school. My head felt pressure from all sides, that the attention of many students now lay in my fingertips.  The problem was how I can communicate my intentions effectively, but I took the wrong course, as if reaching for the stars without taking incremental steps.

Then I had a talk with Mr. Welch, the SAS coordinator and AP English Language teacher, about the consequences of my decision.  He says to me that unauthorized installation of ubuntu is forbidden, and doing so would get the law to pounce on me.  Talk about security alert in the school!  It became quite a notorious sensation of the day, just like when the issue of Kony was the hype around the school a few months ago, except mine sounded like a terrorist plot.  No misconception can ever arise strong as that of administration and the conservative lot of the students.

I feel like a falsely accused victim, people seeing me with malicious unauthorized intentions.  Nothing can be so far from the truth.  Total bullshit.

What I've been hearing:

The administration thinks I'm a hacker amassing a group of hackers to hack into the school and "unauthorizedly" install Ubuntu throughout the campus.  Student think I'm trying to take over the school.  I created a nasty aura around my character, a threat to the school, a potential hazard worth disposing and an enemy. And I was just sitting there, stunned by these fallacies.

The administration is now wary of my presence.  Their targets are locked on me, watching my every move.

What's more, conservatism is breaking loose through Terrance, the voice of the opposition, advocating people to disregard this, that my idea is but a fad and not worth caring about, if Windows XP is enough for everyone. Today, I heard from a student that during lunch time, he was preaching his conservatism to the people.  It was interesting to see how strong his conviction was in preserving the status quo.

Of course, if I were in Terrence's shoes, I would do the exact same thing, to emphasize the level of my surprise towards the conservative audience. It isn't hard to emulate; I'm happy to see that he presents the voice of the students with such passion and vigor.

My reflection:

I've been battered by swaying opinions, most of which that are wrong.  First, I never expect myself to install anything on school-owned systems without approval.  I had no intentions in taking unauthorized action.  I take great pride in being a student all my life, and to be the bane of school would seriously pose a shame for me. Mr. Welch thinks that there's "something in it for me" if I were to succeed in this supposedly diabolical scheme, though I never considered that "something" ever before.

Talking with David, Hamin, and Zhitong Qui about this on a skype meeting yesterday, I understood new facets about my members.  David has been going two ways all along, engaged in Project XP, to install newly arrived hardware with XP.  In the long run, I knew he wasn't reliable for this (I'm sorry, David, but I knew this was coming; we had limited time and you tried your best).  Even Mr. Welsh justified it for me. Hamin is a conservative yet doesn't mind sticking to this idea.  His criticisms of me varied in depth, shallow in describing that I'm biased and deep in that I have to see from the audience's perspective.  Zhitong has such social prowess that she amazes me.

I never anticipated on a tide this huge, and by doing so, I entailed a series of events that would continue to hurt my reputation.  Some students eye at me menacingly, a very unpleasant experience for someone who wants to raise awareness.

Ahhh, to raise awareness...

Even Terrance admits that raising awareness is better than announcing a potential force installs of Ubuntu throughout the school.  But I have to rephrase "raising awareness" to "educate."

This is the very failure of my ambitions that built over the past few weeks after returning from the Ubuntu Developer Summit.  When I engaged in mobilizing people about an idea, I already thought that people had some understanding of Linux.  The opposition clearly showed that they are rather ignorant of open source, the ideology of GNU/Linux, and the community driving Linux.  Since the audience wasn't educated of this, they could only react so explosively!  I apologize for diving into my project headstrong.

The very experiment I created revealed to me that I need to reassess my ways, regress a bit, and point toward a new direction, a direction that I dub Introducing Open Source.  Instead of proposing change as I've done recently, I want to educate the interested mass out there in my school about what open source is.  From there, I hope to kindle interest about the benefits of open source in the school level.


Summary: 
Change is a long term process, that exponentially increases in length the greater the scope.  I learned to trust in the mechanics of change, so I will be all-ears to my audience.  I truly respect you readers for your opposition; I was expecting it.

It is my goal to raise awareness, if not educate first before I propose any change.  To propose change too suddenly was a mistake. It is my dream to see John Marshall High School embrace the philosophy of open source first.

I hope that my readers from JHMS will be willing to open up to our world more.  Over time, we'll be addressing questions like:

  • Why can't we live without software freedom? 
  • What is open source?
  • What is FOSS and GNU?  
  • How ubiquitous is open source in this world?
  • and many more...
Thanks for your time.  But before you go, check this "interview-like" thing.

*Addressing an overview of the week. 

I noticed the following trends when I created the facebook group.  Italics represent my thoughts.
  • Debates are hot!!!!!  Because I didn't participate in that with Terrence and the opposition, people were losing interest in this cause.  I decided not to participate because of how inane it would be to fight a massively conservative audience that doesn't know what open source is.  If I were to engage in it, it would be like fighting fire with fire, a one man army against a giant lot of angry cats!  I admit I was a coward, but I had to regress... or it would be pointless for me. 
  • Facebook Essays are hot!! Majority of the people are lambasting me, seeing Terrence's argument as superior. Jamie Jung once said about me, "he only says to us to 'check his blog'." For the past few days, I felt lost and unsure of my next move.  With proper consultation from the Ubuntu community itself, I have this post up! :)
  • Terrence vs. John: Go Terrence, screw John! I respect Terrence very much for being the voice of the opposition. I have no grudge for him.  The only grudge is with me, that my timing was completely off and I thought I had some support.  I was totally wrong. 
  • "Terrence's argument is 100% valid." -Hamin, skype talk on 05/30/12.  Here is the theme of this entire discourse. It's only valid because the rest of you haven't thought from the Linux perspective.  That's why I felt the absolute necessity of educating the masses about how there is also a Linux alternative to school-related tasks, from administration to student work. That process will take time, but hey~ education before proposing. 
  • John's a threat to the school, thinking he can install Ubuntu everywhere.  Let me expose my honest opinion.  I absolutely had NO INTENTION of messing with the school's computers EVER.  I will never do such a thing without approval from the school, especially when my reputation and transcript are at risk.as marring my reputation like that.  fas marring my reputation like that.  

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