What is FUD?

It is the intention of this entry to try and ascertain what the correct definition of FUD is.  It is evident that this term is thrown around much as of late and is a ‘catch all’ for many to group people that they do not want to deal with.  So, let’s start by getting the “official” definition of FUD.  No, we are not going to an Encyclopedia or dictionary…we’ll go to the place where the community defines exactly what the definition is…Wikipedia. According the the Wikipedia definition, FUD was first defined as “any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon.”  FUD then was applied to IBM and business practices.  Currently, it has become trendy to apply it to individuals. Later in the Wikipedia article, it goes on to state:

FUD can be used to offhandedly ‘smear’ criticism or legitimate debate, even in cases where the allegations are without merit or are merely implied; this tactic is often used in cases where the initial publicity surrounding claims of FUD is likely to vastly overshadow any subsequent retraction. Such an arbitrary usage is a general type of logical fallacy known as Ad hominem circumstantial

It is my opinion that this application of logical fallacy has replaced the actual definition of FUD in today’s society.  Today, people who see opinions and ideals other than their own gaining a public voice will immediately sling accusations of FUD toward the source…more often than not attacking the person or public voice that publishes them.  The gradual dilution of the actual meaning of FUD is part of the great divide that is prevalent in today’s online world.

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OLPC Mission Has Changed

Has the mission of OLPC changed so much? I say it has. No longer are the five core principals initially employed when the project started valid. The original Five Core Principles were:

  1. Child Ownership
  2. Low Ages
  3. Saturation
  4. Connection
  5. Free and Open Source

It’s important to quote what is under #5 above:

The child with an XO is not just a passive consumer of knowledge,
but an active participant in a learning community. As the children grow and pursue new ideas, the software, content, resources, and tools should be able to grow with them. The very global nature of OLPC demands that growth be driven locally, in large part by the children themselves. Each child with an XO can leverage the learning of every other child. They teach each other, share ideas, and through the social nature of the interface, support each other’s intellectual growth. Children are learners and teachers.

There is no inherent external dependency in being able to localize software into their language, fix the software to remove bugs, and repurpose the software to fit their needs. Nor is there any restriction in regard to redistribution; OLPC cannot know and should not control how the tools we create will be re-purposed in the future.

A world of great software and content is necessary to make this project succeed, both open and proprietary. Children need to be able to choose from all of it. In our context of learning where knowledge must be appropriated in order to be used, it is most appropriate for knowledge to be free. Further, every child has something to contribute; we need a free and open framework that supports and encourages the very
basic human need to express.

Give me a free and open environment and I will learn and teach with joy.

No longer is it about empowering a generation of children from poorer nations and letting them learn with the ability to help improve the platform they operate on…what it’s now about:

“‘The OLPC mission is a great endeavor, but the mission is to get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible. Whether that technology is from one operating system or another, one piece of hardware or another, or supplied or supported by one consulting company or another doesn’t matter. It’s about getting it into kids’ hands. Anything that is contrary to that objective, and limits that objective, is against what the program stands for.'”

…just like a fun toy right? <sarcasm>Let’s drop Nintendo DS gaming systems into their hands…laptops, laptops, laptops…that’s what it is about…because we’re all about getting the technology to the kids. </sarcasm> We’re not about empowering them to learn about computers, networks, and software. We’re not about them learning on a system where there are no limits. As RMS states, “Teaching children to use a proprietary (non-free) system such as Windows does not make the world a better place, because it
puts them under the power of the system’s developer.” That developer is Microsoft.

Congratulations go to Microsoft for bringing proprietary lockin to millions of kids worldwide who will no longer be able to take pride in their own contributions the the core OS, who will no longer feel community ownership, and who will no longer be the sole operator of their own open source software based XO.

Our children our the future and what we aren’t teaching them with closed source software is just as important as what we ARE teaching them.

Activism and Promotion


Something that is really counterproductive in many Open Source communities are people who are so rabidly fanatical about one line of thinking that they try to pressure everyone into their line of thinking. One long standing example of this is the whole FLOSS vs. FOSS concept. Some outspoken individuals try to lash out at all people who don’t take their view on Free and Libre Open Source Software…that is, software that is Open Source, Free, and Libre (aka without proprietary parts included). It’s really sad because this shouldn’t be an issue in Open Source and Linux communities but it often is.

There are two labels that can be applied to these stances…promotion or activism. A majority of the people who love and support Open Source software are promoters. They’re the ones that always put in a plug for their distro during tech conversations or tell their co-workers excitedly why they don’t have viruses. The others are activists who lobby congress (like lobby4linux.com), sue for GPL violations, and take an active role in the proliferation of Open Source. Both of these stances and labels are needed in Open Source and to proliferate Open Source. But just like the old saying, “too much of a good thing can kill you” so can too much activism or promotion inside Open Source.

It’s my experience that there are more of the promotionists than the activists. Of course, activists are needed with Open Source as well. They’re the informed individuals that debate the GPLv2 and v3 until they’re blue in the face…they’re the ones that force GPL compliance on those not observing that license. They ARE needed. It’s the extreme fringes of both promotionists and activists that we don’t need. When someone goes over the top and over-promotes something…their promotion becomes counterproductive because of over saturation. The same is true for activism…no one wants to hear about how wrong they are for using X or not installing X.

So which group would be worse? It’s really up in the air. Over saturation means that (when people hear about Linux after a promotionist has filled their ears to the brim with how great it is) a person will more than likely ignore something with Linux or not consider it when it would be worthwhile to them. On the contrary, activists may distract new advocates and new users by focusing them not on promotion of using Open Source but rather, debating on Libre vs. Non-Libre or whatever their argument might be (as Libre vs. Non-Libre is not the only area that has activists vs. promotionists). Remember, we’re speaking of the rabidly fanatical end aka fringes of the spectrum…not generalizing here. People can be rabid on the promotion side of things too…it’s important to note that when you’re on the extreme side of either, you’re counterproductive to the proliferation of open source software.

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Cipherfunk.org, the GPL, and Ubuntu Contributors


Why oh why do people jump to conclusions without properly investigating things? I haven’t ranted in a while because, well, there’s really nothing to rant about as of late. However, this morning, I read this news article on violation of the GPL by a site called Cipherfunk.org. If you take a look at the article, it goes on to explain that Cipherfunk was offering patches to various bug reports in Ubuntu because Ubuntu hadn’t fixed the bugs (bugs listed: #36596, #38802…possible fixes for: #16873, #38181, #47775) quick enough for the likes of Cipherfunk. Interestingly enough, this is the beauty of Open Source right? If you don’t like how something works, you have the right to get the source code and fix it yourself! In this case, that is just what Cipherfunk.org did. So what’s the big stink about? Source Code and $$$.

The problem is that two Ubuntu contributors asked for Cipherfunk.org to comply with the GPL by removing cost associated with distribution of source code. This is harmless in itself and applauded by many in the community. However, it’s not the why they did it that is wrong…it’s the HOW they did it. How they did it is by first informing the Cipherfunk.org that it was wrong to charge $$ for the source, and second by touting various sections of the GPL where they believed Cipherfunk was in violation. Why is this wrong? Let’s examine things a bit.

The big stink everyone brought up is not that Cipherfunk WASN’T distributing the source code…but that Cipherfunk WAS CHARGING for the source code which they believed was in violation. However, having seen this same case (where Warren Woodford and MEPIS distribute their sourced code for a cost) I know for a fact that the GPL allows one to do this. But let’s take a look at the GPL shall we?


Does the GPL allow me to charge a fee for downloading the program from my site?
Yes. You can charge any fee you wish for distributing a copy of the program. If you distribute binaries by download, you must provide equivalent access to download the source–therefore, the fee to download source may not be greater than the fee to download the binary.

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Perspective is as Perspective Does

Perspective. It’s what separates one opinion from another. A person who looks at a glass that is half empty may be despondent but a person who looks at a glass half full may be full of joy. I like to think “Hey! Who the hell put that glass on this table anyway?”. We all have different ideas that shape who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Often, these ideas blend into our interests and hobbies. With free and open source software (namely Linux) we see this frequently…especially when debating on the subject of libre and free.

Often, it’s attitudes, egos, and intelligence that make this gap between users’ perspective even wider. What’s interesting about all of this philosophy and debate is that it is more prolific now than it was 10 years ago. Why? Well, more users of course! Linux and open source are enjoying a very large following currently. Add more users to the fray and you’re bound to get more perspective…for the good things and the bad.

Working with users at work who don’t even know how to place clipart in their MS Word docs (I sub in for helpdesk since we’re a smaller state agency) got me thinking the other day. Where does the new user fit in with this philosophy and debate? How are we to get their perspective across to programmers, developers, application hackers, and designers? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Linux has arrived at a point unprecedented in history…when a Linux desktop is usable and productive. As Uncle Ben said in Spiderman 2, “with great power comes great responsibility”. I feel the community is being irresponsible on this…and yes, it is all about perspective. So please read on…let’s see if we can change your perspective a bit and close the gap between new users and advanced users.

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The Dirt on Suspicious Digging at Digg.com…

It seems that being one of the top 500 visited websites in the world has gone to Digg.com’s head. Users are reporting that some articles that are submitted are being dugg by the same users in the same exact order to up their digg rating to get them on the front page.

When these users posted articles about this phenomenon, those articles are either deleted, the users are banned (Submitted & Banned Pics), or the story is buried (despite having 164 diggs at the time of this writing…not on the front page). There is even reports of users submitting an article who haven’t submitted before only to have another user who is ‘popular’ get the story posted despite posting it later. Digg.com is supposed to have a duplicate url system in place preventing this…

Now digg.com can do whatever they want with their website. In fact, they can bully all the other websites they want to. However, they can’t build their community on a Democratic, Users-vote-for-the-story-and-our-editors-don’t model and then just drop it. They need to follow their own TOS (terms of service) to maintain their credibility or recant that part of the TOS and release an updated TOS. As of this writing, Digg insists that its content is driven by the users. With the information collected in this article, it seems that something is rank in the state of Diggmark. You decide.

For your perusal, I’ve collected all the links I can find with information on this issue. Please comment if you’ve found alternative links and I will update these as the comments come in. Please note that I belive Forevergeek.com was the first to post on this…they are listed at #1. Also please note many of the comments in these articles…users are pretty livid about this…and there is no response from digg.com yet.

  1. Digg Corrupted: Editor’s Playground, not User-Driven Website
  2. The Story that Got Deleted – The digg story that went pewf!
  3. Kevin Rose abusing Digg – links to google group tracking this story
  4. Suspicious Digging
  5. Google Blogoscoped – more on the google group
  6. Digg Corrupted – a digg.com user attempts to hold digg accountable
  7. Digg Abused? – Newsvine article on this
  8. Digg Army – Binary Bonsai
  9. Digg, not democracy after all – Yugatech Blog Post
  10. The J Spot
  11. Corruption. The House of the Digg Elite
  12. The Trouble with DIGG
  13. Growing Censorship Concerns at Digg – Just got slashdotted!
  14. Digg Army: Right in Line – More from Forevergeek
  15. 146 diggs, 57 comments, 6 hours and no frontpage at digg
  16. Non Response from Digg.com – Forevergeek
  17. Digg.com Explanation? – Kevin Responds? Sort of…
  18. BoingBoing’s Take On This
  19. The Guardian Picks Up the Story…
  20. The Inquirer Hops On
  21. Sitepoint Diggs in their Claws
  22. Boyhazard.net Blog
  23. Splasho’s Blog…Update on Digg
  24. Three Reasons Why Digg is a Crock! – Zdnet Blogs
  25. MonkeyBites Blog
  26. BlogCritics – A Must Read
  27. Thomas Hawkes Digital Connection – He has the most dugg story of all time…
  28. Odeo Podcast on the Subject
  29. ForeverGeek Comments Further
  30. Zippity Doo Dah – A Statistical Analysis of Digging Corruption? You Decide…
  31. CEO of Weblogs.inc – The Digg Backlash
  32. More from Techno Pinoy
  33. DuncanRiley.com chimes in
  34. Is Digg Rigging its Diggs? – a Tech Writer from Toronto adds two cents
  35. Businesspundit
  36. Kellegous.com Speaks of Digg
  37. ProBlogger – Digg Deception
  38. Newsome Blog
  39. RealTechNews
  40. Silicon Valley Sleuth – Social Websites have a Social Responsibility
  41. Basement.org
  42. Search Engine Guide – is digg working with their own shovel?
  43. Publishing 2.0
  44. SuperGeekBlog – The Social Corruption of Digg
  45. Student-Rant Blog – Interesting Statistics on Editor Posting
  46. Virtual Thought
  47. CNET Podcast on the subject
  48. FG-DIGG Issue on TWiT @ Forever Geek