Meritocracy not Democracy in Ubuntu

I read this article that reminded me a bit about The Venus Project. It talks about how the founder of the Ubuntu OS, Mark Shuttleworth, made a comment when people where complaining about the close/minimize/maximize buttons being moved to the left hand side in Ubuntu. Here’s what he said.

“(Jono Bacon says) As we discussed different approaches, I recommended that we could hold a vote, to which Mark responded: “No, this is not a democracy.” At first, my reaction was pretty much the same rabbit-caught-in-headlights response that some people experienced recently. Democracy felt like a culturally familiar, comfortable and fair approach to community, so the idea it was not our culture came as a bit of a bolt out of the blue. Mark continued to explain the position:
“In Ubuntu, decisions are not driven by a popularity contest, but instead by informed decision-makers with firm experience of the problem and making solutions.” After he’d clarified what Ubuntu was not, he followed up with what it was: “Ubuntu is a meritocracy.” “

It reminded me of The Venus Project because they don’t advocate democracy for every decision. Not every one is well enough informed to make an appropriate decision in all areas. Think of it this way, would you ask your mechanic to fix your computer? or your lawyer to to plan your dream wedding? or your plumber to fix your teeth? Of course not, because that is not their area of expertise. Of course input is welcomed and encouraged because you don’t need to be an expert in order to think of something to contribute, but its up to the people who are well informed to interpret your idea’s and suggestions and ultimately make a decision.

Read the full story Here

  1. Robert Lawson

    Sadly some individuals ‘missed the boat’ on understanding how democracies work. A democracy inherently breeds some form of bureaucracy, in turn, bureaucrats are unelected officials who make decisions on a very limited area. For example, the Federal Communications Commission decides what frequencies will be open to certain types of electronic devices and priorities of communication, this issue has never been up for public debate. The FCC is a bureaucracy that exists within our democratic system, and it works to the benefit of pertinent stakeholders (note, a stakeholder is not a SHAREholder). There are hundreds of bureaucracies in America and all other major countries… these bureaucracies are led by unelected officials and the regulations they produce have never been up to a public vote.

  2. There is a lot about our “democratic” society that only mildly resembles democracy. Like how we can vote people into power, but then have little to no say in what they do once they are there. Democracy is more of a buzz word with little to no meaning now.

    Your right in that there are bureaucracy’s in place that in theory are there for the people to make informed decisions on behalf of the people, but while money remains our incentive these people can be bribed or black mailed to shift their train of thought from a ‘help the people’ mentality to a ‘help the profit’ mentality. Take the bovine growth hormone for instance, allowed in the states but denied in Canada. Then of course you have to wonder how some of the people got into positions in the FCC to begin with.

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