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Editor's Note: On FUD and Holiday Wishes

Jul 03, 2003, 23:30 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

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We have four modes of operation for the Linux Today web site:

First, there is the normal mode, which is about one story every 90 minutes. Then, there is the night mode, which slows the newsfeed down to about one new story every two hours. Night mode, actually, is being phased out of late, thanks to a very steady increase in news items that don't allow us to slow down one wit.

This segues into the third mode of operation, the flood mode, which occurs when there is so much news, we have to go to a every hour news feed throughout the entire 24-hour day. (We did about 30 hours of that early this week, BTW.) Flood mode is something that happens more and more frequently of late, and no, it's not because of all the SCO nonsense.

For good or ill, more and more media outlets are getting interested in Linux and Open Source, and the number of stories are increasing dramatically. I know that some will decry an increase of FUD stories, but I tend to think that even the less glowing reports on open source technology are not entirely deliberately trying to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (though the end results may be the same).

I do not seriously believe there is an ongoing media conspiracy to try to drag Linux down. The world of tech media is too fragmented and territorial for that kind of activity.

But, I do believe that some tech journalists are operating under mistaken presumptions and outdated information. And the people they are interviewing are operating under the same restrictions.

Over and over I talk to IT people all over the world who say or write "I didn't know Linux could do that." Cliched, but true. Linux's strengths, which are immediately obvious to the Linux community, are not as obvious to every one else.

And God help anyone who does get it wrong, as they suffer a barrage of venemous and flaming correspondence.

I have this fond wish that instead of screeching and calling every article that's negative about Linux FUD, members of the community try to use their superior Linux knowledge to try to politely educate members of the press or analysts or anyone in the news talking about Linux where they got their facts wrong. Because it's usually as simple as that.

And once in a while, we should accept that the negative comments about Linux and Open Source might be right. In which case, just swallow that pride and go out and do something about the problem.

Are there individual efforts to create FUD? Of that I have no doubt. There are too many people in the world whose livelihood depends on Microsoft and other proprietary companies for there not to be FUD. And are there biased journalists out there? You betcha. Optimist I am, naive I am not.

Some writers I know will actually deliberately write something imflammatory, then come over to this site or one of the other Linux sites and watch their negative comments stir up a huge hornet's nest. Then, a few days later, they'll write a "poor me/I told you so" column pointing all of the hate mail they've been victimized with. I personally find such behavior unprofessional in the extreme, since they are essentially creating their own news to justify their points.

So, no, the world is not perfect.

But while perceived FUD seems to be increasing, so too is the level of objective reporting regarding Linux on the rise. Many media outlets see the writing on the wall and realize that whether open source can win or not, there's a battle on between open-source and proprietary software. Many writers are out there trying to get the real scoop on Linux, and not relying on their preconceptions.

Because if there's one thing the media loves to cover, it's a good, fair fight.

Getting back to Linux Today, for a sense of completion I should mention the fourth mode: the weekend/holiday mode, which is when the newsfeed essentially shuts down and talkbacks are moderated at a slower pace. This mode has some relevance now, since Linux Today will be in holiday mode beginning tonight, July 3, and continuing to midnight Monday, July 7, GMT.

For U.S. citizens, I wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend. For the rest of you, I hope you will enjoy your own freedoms, particularly with the ones you love.

Peace,
Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor
Linux Today