InfoWorld Employs Ignorant Journalists

NOTE: ComputerWorld Senior Online Projects Editor, Ian Lamont, has contacted me and asked that I provide a correction to the information contained in this post. The original article by Neil McAllister did not originally appear at Computerworld. It was first published by InfoWorld…however, there was no originating link published with the Computerworld posting of the article linking back to this original posting…so assumption was justified but wrong. Thus, Computerworld is not the employer of ignorance, rather, InfoWorld is 🙂 It is important to note that Compturworld is a subsidiary (is that the right word?) of of which InforWorld is as well. Unfortunately, due to syndication, the title of this article is the URL and has been passed around at many, many different places.

So, I’ll be retitling and editing the article accordingly to provide seamless redirection. I apologize to Computerworld if in any way, shape, or form for my mistake did any character damage or incurred the rath senior editors and/or caused anyone to lose face or get made fun of (unless they’re dressed in horrible attire or didn’t brush their teeth this morning, in which case, they should apologize to everyone else). The original Computerworld syndication of Mr. McAllister’s article is located here. A copy of the original article I penned is available upon request via the comments section of this article. Thanks!

Articles like this one are so misguided. Giving you a brief overview what the article from InfoWorld says: Open Source supporters build fortresses around them that make them unapproachable and have infinite animosity toward Microsoft. Yep, that about sums it up. I’ll show you below how this article was written by an ignorant journalist…one that probably is too prideful to ask for help when writing his garbage. Next time you go to write something, why don’t you ask someone? Heck, ask me…I’d help you not to make a fool of yourself and stay accurate with the facts. Instead, InfoWorld shows mud on its face while pretending they’re subject matter experts.

I’d expect it from say…a standard blog discussing technology or perhaps a publication site that only has a technology section with a writer or two that pens just enough to wet the appetite of the computer savvy portion of its demographic. But InfoWorld? Come on! These guys should do a bit more research…afterall, they’re part of IDG which is the leading distributor of computer and technology based magazines and newspapers on the entire planet…you’d think that they might hire someone with a bit more knowledge in the arena of open source. They lead off the entire article with the following:

“If you support open source, one of the initial things you learn is that you must bash Microsoft.”

Well, I missed that memo. Last I checked on Sourceforge, there were around 6,000 pieces of open source software available for Windows and the Microsoft platform. Perhaps the author is confusing the term Open Source with Linux as many people do. They sit there and think that Linux and Open Source are synonymous. That just isn’t so. Linux is just one of many Open Source programs available…and one of many that can be said contain a philosophy biased against Microsoft Software. I always take note that some of the best programs out there that have a GPL License make my job eaiser on the Microsoft Platform at work. When you generalize things like this, you should at least get the generalization correct. In this instance, he didn’t.

Now…perhaps the author just opened up with the wrong sentence right? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and take a look at the second sentence:

It’s understandable; of all the
proprietary software companies in the world the one in Redmond takes
the cake for ill-will towards the open-source community. Just look at
the famed “Halloween documents” to see the extent of the bad blood”

Uh…last I checked the Halloween Documents were penned by Microsoft which was why they were so damning. So, the benefit of the doubt was given but shouldn’t have been. The author is implying that the Halloween Documents were somehow written by Open Source supporters in an attempt to bring ‘ill-will’ toward Microsoft. Funny isn’t it? This means that the author didn’t even read the Halloween Documents enough to know this simple fact. The author probably didn’t even read the Halloween Documents FAQ. Does it get any better later in the article?

Nope. Read on for the full digression.

Through the years, this atmosphere of mutual animosity has inspired a number of people to try to get their shots in. Case in point: recently blogger Jason Cowan submitted the text of Microsoft’s community shared source software licence to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) for consideration as an approved open-source licence. He did it without Microsoft’s knowledge. When OSI representatives inquired whether Microsoft would like OSI to go ahead with the evaluation, the software giant politely declined.”

So a publicly available license was given to the OSI to see how ‘open’ the license really was. If Microsoft didn’t want the license to be duplicated, they should have copyrighted it like they do so well with all other documents and software. This is rather silly…how do you go about saying that this action holds ‘animosity’ toward Microsoft? Submitting a publiclyavailable license to the OSI means you’ve got it out for Microsoft? This is horrible, sloppy journalism. Just a few paragraphs later the author drops even lower:

Even as Cowan was busy with his stunt, Microsoft was reaching out in the other direction. Recently Sam Ramji, the director of Microsoft’s Open Source Software Lab, extended a unique invitation to coders from the Mozilla group. For four days in December, Firefox and Thunderbird developers will have the chance to work side by side with Microsoft employees to ensure that their code runs its best on the upcoming Windows Vista OS.”

So, now its a stunt eh? Last time I checked, stunts were when you lit a hoop on fire and jumped through it or perhaps ramped a vehicle over a bunch of barrels. And another thing, 4 days in December hardly amount to a drop in the water if you look at it logically…21 years of guarded and closed ideals on one side and then 4 days of openness.

The author digresses even further a few more paragraphs later:

I, for one, am glad the Mozilla team didn’t reject Microsoft’s offer. That would be just one more example of the fortress mentality of many in the open-source community towards a company that, quite frankly, is a fact of life in the IT industry.”

So, rejecting the further proliferation of Open Source software is something Open Source projects are in the habit of doing? That sounds counterproductive doesn’t it? Is this guy for real? Who is he trying to fool? He’s making himself look much like an idiot. Now there’s a ‘fortress of mentality’ that is prevalent in open source. This is a real piece of work…to be filed in the fiction section.

The icing on the cake comes in the final paragraphs:

From here on out, companies will use open-source software to power their businesses.”

Gee and I thought they’d been using it to power their business for the last 20 years. It’s a good thing you assume they haven’t by saying ‘From here on out’. This just goes to show you that even someone who works for a huge media conglomerate can make mistakes…huge ones…and can come off looking totally ignorant. Too bad too. The author could have consulted with someone on the article and nailed down the facts to give him more credibility.

It’s time for open-source advocates to set aside their pride, recognise their place in the larger software market and start working to build bridges, rather than fortresses. The pranks and the name-calling might be good for a chuckle, but they’re not really helpful.

I can’t believe he had the audacity to print this. Pride? Let’s put things into perspective…it’s pride that keeps businesses from admitting when they’re wrong and it’s pride that kept the author from seeking a subject matter expert on Open Source instead of relying on his own faulty logic. It’s pride that makes HP not admit their mistakes in privacy violations and point the finger at the sub-sub-contractor they hired to do the investigation. It’s pride that keeps Microsoft from admitting when they’ve installed a ‘phone home’ piece of spyware on all their users’ computers without their knowledge. Sure, they eventually admit it…but only after their caught. That defeats the purpose. Too bad this author couldn’t realize how contradictive he sounds and how far he’s missed the mark.

In closing, I just thought the article wasn’t even worth the pixels used to display it…but I’m sure its been seen by a wide variety of people. So, instead of giving them one side of the story, perhaps my little rant will give them the other side of things. Sure we can all get along…as long as we speak the truth to one another. And that’s something both journalists and Microsoft have historically [1] [2] had trouble doing.

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

5 thoughts on “InfoWorld Employs Ignorant Journalists”

  1. Also see:

    Praising Microsoft – and attacked by wolves

    ,—-[ Snippets ]
    | “That you can use the word ‘virtue’ in the same sentence as ‘Microsoft’
    | is clear indication that you haven’t a clue. Then again, you do write
    | for Fortune, so your alliance no doubt leans toward corporations and
    | shareholders rather than users,” wrote Walter Bazzini, whose Web
    | site, perhaps revealingly, is entitled “Misanthrope Manor.”
    | “You sound as if you’re suffering from ‘Stockholm Syndrome,'” wrote
    | Ken Davies. “Microsoft has actually set all of us back by years and
    | possibly by decades.”
    | “Your painfully revisionist history makes you sound like one of
    | the 20-something journalists who wasn’t actually around since the 80s,”
    | wrote Norman Gilmore, who really knows how to hurt a guy.
    | Some of the letters were not only passionate but extremely well written
    | and thoughtful. Here’s more, for example, from Gilmore, who neatly
    | summarizes the objections of quite a few writers:
    | “Gee, I thought ARPA funded the research leading to TCP/IP, Tim
    | Berners-Lee invented the Web, and Marc Andreessen led the creation of
    | the graphical browser at [the University of Illinois]. I thought Apple
    | started the personal computing revolution, Xerox invented graphical
    | interfaces and IBM invented the PC. Microsoft BASIC – oh yeah, a
    | language invented at Dartmouth by Kemeny and Kurtz. MS-DOS? Tim
    | Patterson wrote what became MS-DOS, itself a CP/M clone.
    | “And THEN Bill Gates wrote his famous memo, which summarized as –

  2. Thanks for that link. Nice perspective on things. Even though a majority of businesses and standard users out there have Microsoft to thank for their PC they are typing from right now, I think if Microsoft hadn’t have done what they did, someone else would have (be it apple or OS/2). It was a matter of timing and capital funding at the right time in computing. Had open source been where it is today(technologically) at that time, I think things may have turned out differently. Thanks again for the link. It’s nice that some journalists can eat some humble pie and admit when they’ve made a mistake…even though he did try to rationalize it a bit and saving face. As I said, a matter of timing. If not Gates, someone else would have. That’s the beauty of capitalism…you snooze you lose 😀

  3. >>”It’s understandable; of all the
    >>proprietary software companies in the >>world the one in Redmond takes
    >>the cake for ill-will towards the >>open-source community. Just look at
    >>the famed “Halloween documents” to see >>the extent of the bad blood”

    I am very sorry, but I fail to see in this passage that you quote, the meaning you attribute to it. In no way I can see the original author implying that the Open Source community wrote the Halloween Documents. I am not a native English speaker, so I may be missing some nuance, but…

  4. I can understand your confusion. I too examined this paragraph quite a bit when writing about it. The only conclusion I came to is that when the author states “it is understandable”, he’s speaking of Open Source bashing Microsoft (from the lead sentence of the paragraph) being what is ‘understandable’. This implied meaning is supposed to carry through his sentence and paragraph…if he means it not to do so, it is a poorly constructed sentence and paragraph. If he means it to carry through then the implied meaning of ‘Open Source bashing Microsoft’ being ‘understandable’ should carry through and we should see how this is so from his example. He explains that it is so by offering the next line: “Just look at the famed Halloween documents” to see the extent of the bad blood”.
    So we’re speaking of how Open Source thrashes Microsoft as a matter of established precedent of initiation and that this is understandable…why? Just look at the Halloween Documents to see the support for those two implications.
    Did the author want us to change implied meanings so quickly? If so, a new paragraph should have taken place to establish a new idea/implied meaning…otherwise, we’re still thinking of his leading sentence.

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