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What Free Software, Linux and Microsoft Have Taught Us

Aug 20, 2009, 19:04 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rufus Polson)

"Starting with the second kind of lesson, Microsoft in particular has taught us a lot about how the world works. We've seen that when profits are threatened, corporations will not limit themselves to "competition in the marketplace", but will try whatever tactics they can get away with to crush the threat. We've seen that among these tactics, propaganda and misinformation can be mobilized very effectively in ways that are hard to counter even with a very vigorous grassroots community communication effort. That has given Free Software proponents a view of the media that many people are unaware of: the depth of the influence money has on what is typically said, the ways columnists and similar speakers can be paid off or themselves deceived, the impact of advertisers on the coverage of many media outlets. But this isn't a lesson about Microsoft or the computer industry, this is a lesson about society as a whole: Any time you see media coverage of an issue and some opinion seems to be rapidly becoming the conventional wisdom, you can ask yourself--who could make money from that position? Who has media clout and needs to stave off a threat? Who's the Microsoft here?"

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