Re: Freedom Box, a personal reaction

  • From: "Yardbird" <yardbird@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 20:41:48 -0700

Darryl,

Fine. I'm not expressing any opinion about Freedom Scientifics' motivation, 
or legal strategy, or anything. I did say I wasn't at all surprised to learn 
that FS had been pressuring this company and had finally gotten around to 
suing them, but that was not to say I feel I have a dog in this fight. I 
didn't write what I wrote in order to either justify FS or denounce it. Hope 
that's more clear. It was just a personal observation, apart from these 
arguments.

As for the dramatic money demands in the FS complaint, I don't know how 
better to say this than I already have. A civil lawsuit like this is, and I 
am not saying this cynically, not only a search for some truth, that is if 
it goes to court, but it's also a sort of contest, a kind of bargaining 
ritual, complete with a traditional array of threats, and feints, and 
bobbing and weaving, and all that goes way back to the days when 
disagreements were settled by actual physical combat hundreds of years ago 
in England, and to oversimplify the history (I say this so as not to irk 
Adrian by doing so) , it was out of dissatisfaction with such trials of 
combat that the roots of English common law, from which our American civil 
law is mostly derived, that adversarial legal actions like this evolved. 
Though it's not a game in the silly sense, it is certainly a gamelike 
ritual, and all these threats and demands, however passionately they may be 
presented in the complaint, are as much chips tossed onto the pile on the 
table as anything else. Not that FS would simply return the huge money 
awards if granted them by a trial decision, but they aren't very likely 
actually expecting all that, either. I wouldn't take it quite that seriously 
or literally.
thanks.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Darrell Shandrow" <nu7i@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2007 7:47 PM
Subject: Re: Freedom Box, a personal reaction


Hi,

The trouble I have is that FS isn't just asking for an injunction against
use of the name.  They're asking for triple an amount of damages which they
themselves say is incalculable.  It kinda sounds like the sky's the limit,
but I also understand how these lawsuits work.

That's why some of us are just simply asking them to stop.  If that comes in
the form of a fair settlement, fine.  That would be great.

Darrell Shandrow - Accessibility Evangelist
Visit http://www.SaveSerotek.org and ask Freedom Scientific to stop suing!
Information should be accessible to us without need of translation by
another person.
Blind Access Journal blog and podcast: http://www.blindaccessjournal.com
Check out high quality telecommunications services at http://ld.net/?nu7i
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yardbird" <yardbird@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "JFW List" <jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2007 7:05 PM
Subject: Freedom Box, a personal reaction


In the midst of all this energetic discussion about the FS suit against
Serotek (I'm still wondering who thought that up), I just want to describe
what my initial reaction was when I first saw some promotional notice about
Freedom Box. I have a feeling it was a press release from that company,
forwarded to the NFB GUI-Talk list by someone. A few years ago.

When I opened the message and read it,I had two reactions. One was to wonder
what a "freedom box" could possibly be. Before reading any product
information, I developed the notion that it was probably just a PC, as a lot
of people like to call their computer "the box," affectionately. But it was
probably a PC that was deliberately configured and pre-loaded with some sort
of adaptive software, most likely made by the company, whose name I didn't
notice in those messages, or failed to remember. Maybe that isn't what the
Freedom Box is, but that's what first occurred to me, and the first
impression something like a brand name makes is very important, if you want
to reach the targeted consumer.

And so I thought, Hmmm. I wonder if their software is some sort of suite of
blind and low vision adaptive technologies that are in competition with the
FS product line. Wonder how good the stuff is?

And then I thought, freedom from what? Freedom from the shackles of
blindness without the assistive benefits of this product? Fine, if that's
what they want to claim, but isn't that unattractively negative, to tell the
potential blind customer that he or she is in bondage to low expectations
about their own capabilities until they get a Freedom Box? That doesn't
sound very positive.

Then I thought, "why box?" Because "box" called to mind "boxed in,"
restrained. I never heard of a box, figurative or literal, that enabled or
enhanced freedom-- but I sure did know about the familiar use of "box" as
describing confinement, actually. Boxed in. Thrown in the box. Not able to
think out of the box. So the product name, on its own, left me with too many
questions and not very attracted, already.

And in very quick order, I then thought, what a bad idea to name the thing
"freedom" anything. In the adaptive tech arena, I immediately associate the
word with FS, before anything else, in fact exclusively. This is how
advertising works, by the way, for anyone who is thinking that it ought to
be clear that one is a company and the other is a product. Names are used
for the associations they immediately invoke, at a level that makes an end
run around rational thinking. So, you hear "freedom," and if you' aren't
thinking about fried potatoes and Bush in a bad mood about France, then
you're thinking of FS.

"Couldn't they have thought of something a little more original?" I thought?
"I don't suppose many people will be confused and think the product is
affiliated with FS, but then again,maybe they will. Because it's hard not to
make the association with FS.

At that point, I went on to read a paragraph or two about the product, but
was so brought down by the foregoing thoughts, in other words, so
unimpressed with the company that had thought that up for a product name,
that I didn't remember much of what I read, and I never even noticed the
name of a company called Serotek or whatever. In fact, until today, I had
remembered this as a company named Freedom Box with a single product, which
I continued to think was something like a custom built PC with a screen
reader and a screen magnifier program, or something like that, possibly
pre-registered with a special Internet provider.

Which is all to say, I was scarcely surprised to learn that FS has filed
this suit and is trying to get them to rename the product. Duhh, I'm
thinking. Of course. What took FS this long?What were those people thinking
in the first place?

I just say all this in order to stop being so abstract and idealistic about
who should sue whom and is it good for the adaptive tech users community and
so forth? In other words, not strutting an opinion so much as confiding a
personal reaction.

My take on this is that to start with, that company could have done a
*whole* lot better naming this product. It was, like  really, really
obvious.

IMHO, yadda yadda.

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