Category Archives: Media Analysis

Photo by Tim & Selena Middleton

Readers, leads and customers

I hate spending ten bucks going to a movie only to find out all the good scenes were in the preview. Even worse is when the preview looked like a completely different movie then the one I’m watching.

I doesn’t cost me anything but time to follow a link online, but after a while I’m just as frustrated when I click a link and what I get is nothing like what I expected.

I understand why Hollywood does it. By the time I figure out the preview was a lie I’ve already paid for the ticket. That doesn’t work online if I have to actually read the article before I decide if I want to buy something.

Continue reading Readers, leads and customers

The Echo Chamber and The Death of Self-doubt


Photo by: Rubber Cat

If you believed the germ theory of disease in the 17th century you might find some obscure texts to support you, but mostly you were alone in the wilderness. To stick with that belief in the face of universal scorn, you had to have some really compelling (at least to yourself) evidence.

Most people won’t persist with an unpopular belief. Until late in the 20th century, if your neighbors didn’t share a belief, for most people you might as well be the only person in the world who holds that view.

Today though, you can pick any outlandish theory — the moon program was faked, 9/11 was a government plot, Britney Spears can sing — and you can find more blogs and news sites trumpeting that fact than you can read in a lifetime. Everything is confirmed. No one has to question their assumptions if they don’t want to. And frankly, none of us really want to.

The current media saturation means it’s possible for the first time in history to read only media that confirms your bias, no matter what that bias is.

And this is bad why?

If you try hard enough, I suppose it’s possible to spin anything into an attack on your pet target. But the consistency with which Neil McAllister sounds the call of doom and gloom for all things open source is really quite astonishing. Especially when you consider he writes the Open Enterprise column for Infoworld.

Take his January 29th column about the formation of the Linux Foundation for example:

On the surface, the union of Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG) seems like a natural fit. Open standards and open source software are two great ideas that go great together.

But wouldn’t it make more sense to call the merged organization the Open Source and Standards Lab, or the Free Software and Standards Group? Why did they have to go and call it the Linux Foundation?

On the one hand, it seems a shame that the group should narrow the scope of its activities to focus on a single project. Linux may be the open source poster child du jour, but it’s hardly the only worthwhile project around.

If Neil had bothered to read his own magazine’s newsletter the previous week, he would have known that:

With Linux now an established operating system presence for embedded, desktop and server systems, the primary evangelizing mission that the OSDL and FSG embarked upon in 2000 has come to an end, Zemlin said. The focus for the foundation going forward is on what the organization can do to help the Linux community more effectively compete with its primary operating system rival Microsoft.

The combination of the two Linux consortiums was “inevitable,” said Michael Goulde, senior analyst with Forrester Research. “The challenge Linux faces is the same one Unix faced and failed — how to become a single standard.”

So what’s wrong with focusing on Linux, anyway?

But then again, maybe it’s not so strange — not if you conclude that the Linux Foundation isn’t any kind of philanthropic foundation at all. It’s an industry trade organization, the likes of which we’ve seen countless times before. Judging by its charter, its true goal is little more than plain, old-fashioned corporate marketing.

As such, the Linux Foundation is a unique kind of hybrid organization, all right — but it’s not the union of open source and open standards that make it one. Rather, it stands as an example of how to combine open source with all the worst aspects of the proprietary commercial software industry. How noble.

This is really amazing. No one ever claimed that the partners in this merger were anything other than industry trade organizations, but the fact that the new foundation will continue the work of it’s members is somehow un-noble. And nobility is the standard by which we should judge those who are trying to make Linux more competitive in the market.

His grammar and spelling may be better than that of the stereotypical Linux fanboys, who famously attack less-rabid supporters for their lack of purity. Or maybe he just has a better editor. But all the craft in the world doesn’t disguise the fact that Neil’s opinions are rarely more useful than the ramblings of an anonymous Usenet troll.