Dear Joe: Thanks for the letter. I do appreciate that you realized that I was speaking from the heart in the keynote I gave at the SCO conference and I appreciate your thanks. But there are some misconceptions that I think we should clear up.
First, I should point out that Microsoft typically does not pay folks to be keynote speakers at other company’s events. I understand you hate Microsoft, but you should refrain from blaming the company for things that it wouldn’t likely do.
You were right that Pamela Jones of Groklaw doesn’t have a job with a marketing title, but she is currently doing a marketing job for OSRM, which announced that hundreds of patents are violated by Linux and what appears to be an underfunded insurance policy to protect the poor folks they just scared the heck out of. Heck, she even advertises for Groklaw in the sidebar of your letter.
I do apologize for suggesting she worked for IBM. I had thought that by avoiding any mention of her relationship with IBM that this wouldn’t be a problem. However, your obvious use of the Psychic Friends Network to create this connection was not anticipated and should have been. So you have my apology.
I would appreciate it if you would stop saying I attacked all Linux users with my speech. I understand you want to inflame the Linux community, but it has resulted in a lot of e-mail from people concerned about my career and at least one Linux zealot who felt the need to tell me he carried a gun.
While I can appreciate your need to provide a little excitement in my life, my speech really wasn’t taking the position that all Linux users are idiots. I use Linux myself and try very hard not to call myself names most days.
In the one section where I talk about the Linux zombies, this was from Dan Lyons’ “Revenge of the Nerds” expose. In this, he pointed out that a large number of Linux advocates don’t appear to actually use the product and are about as far from being programmers as you are from being an unbiased reporter.
I just think there are a lot of things to get involved in that can really make a difference for people like this, and that if you don’t understand something you probably shouldn’t be a radical supporter of it.
While I can understand your hostility toward me, folks like you certainly don’t like people suggesting there are two sides to anything. You might want to rethink calling all analysts crooks, like you did when you said I “came from an industry renowned for borrowing a customer’s watch in order to tell him what time it is.”
A lot of analysts actively support Linux and open-source software. Attacking their integrity in an effort to get to me sounds, well, less than intelligent. Shooting the folks on your own side is typically not on the list of endearing traits to be nurtured.
Groklaw and Microsoft
You are absolutely right that I don’t like Groklaw. Calling me on that was a clean shot. It was a nice PR spot for them, although I think their tag line should be “SCO FUD ‘R’ Us.” If Groklaw really were an anti-FUD site, don’t you think they should generate less of it themselves? But you are right; I really don’t care for political sites that pretend they are something else. It is a personal failing. If you like them, more power to you.
I understand that you hate Microsoft — I mean really, really hate Microsoft. I have a lot of friends there and understand you aren’t attacking them to get to me, but me to get to them.
Joe, I’d sure love to know what they did to you that made this all so personal, but I do think calling out your own bias so obviously is a mistake. For some of the uninformed, you probably looked unbiased until you did this, but I do admire your honesty. Is it because they don’t advertise on your site? You shouldn’t take that personally. I really think they have a legitimate reason for that.
You are also right about me not liking zealots. I haven’t seen a Windows zealot is some time. I do kind of divide my time between the vastly more vocal Linux and Apple groups. I used to even take exception to the OS/2 zealots. The reason I like FreeBSD is that community doesn’t seem to have zealots. I don’t like religious zealots either, but I’ll wait until I retire to comment on them.
On Giving Advice
I do appreciate the advice you gave in your letter. Since we’ve never talked, I’m curious why you think I’d want to stop being called a Microsoft or SCO shill? I know people just do this to discredit what I say, but by doing it, they actually cause more reasonable people to question what they are saying. Name-calling actually has that impact in politics too of late. It tends to reflect more — for those in the critical undecided camp — on the person doing the name-calling.
Certainly the converted love it or hate it — depending on what side they are on — but the undecided folks might actually make up their own minds, which is my goal you are trying to block. So I think your call for me to stop advocating opinions is counter-strategic. Your goal is to keep reasonable people from thinking; my goal is to get them to use their brains from time to time.
I loved the “tell both sides” mandate, especially because you have absolutely no intention of doing that yourself. You brand me as someone who loves monopolies and hates free — which I think you mean as in freedom here — software. I have nothing against free as in freedom, and I was actually operating under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when I wrote the speech; you should read it some day.
Hopefully, wherever you live, you’ll get something like the First Amendment and you too can experience freedom — like the freedom to use any product I want to use even if it comes from a company Joe Barr hates.
The Real Point
It is a shame you couldn’t actually take the time to argue against the points I really did make. I’d particularly love to see you counter my main thesis that people should make informed decisions regardless of what they choose. But I understand how uncomfortable that would have been; maybe we’ll save that for another letter that you could actually send to me.
I know the practice of publishing an open letter is to look self-righteous and to blindside the receiving party, but gosh, it sure made it fun to write this response.
While all of this hate stuff I’m sure is fun for you, most of the folks I talk to just want to get this stuff to work together. It is likely, as badly as you may want it to be otherwise, that the few Microsoft users (93 percent of the market) and the massive number of Linux users (4 percent of the market) are going to have to learn to work together.
Maybe it would be nice if you spent a little time putting aside your hate and actually helping these users while I continue to focus on reminding people to make considered choices regardless of what product they end up with.
Rob Enderle, a TechNewsWorld columnist, is the Principal Analyst for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends.