Censorship

Apparently, the very idea of Microsoft speaking about “shared source” has terrified some of the open source zealots. Stallman is deliberately confusing the issues by implying that speech from Microsoft must by definition be anti-open-source; or that “open source advocacy” must by definition be anti-Microsoft.

The organizer is for now resisting the pressure to censor Microsoft, pointing out that “we can’t bow to political pressure to silence one side unilaterally, under any circumstances”. But that is precisely the point — anyone who thinks that the (sogenannte)FSF is about freedom (freedom of speech or otherwise)has swallowed the (sogenannte) FSF message without examining their agenda. The agenda has nothing to do with freedom, and the messages about freedom are simply a means ofpushing the agenda.

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Speaking of censorship, I think that most of the bloggers who happen to work at Microsoft are getting very nervous about some of the recent visibility they’ve gotten. Nobody wants to be mistaken for an “official” representative of their employer, but despite the disclaimers, people get worried. And of course there is some introspection about “if we are afraid of being seen as official spokespersons, why mention the ‘M’ word at all?” People are smart enough to avoid discussing NDA things, abstain from being generally disagreeable and so on — but even beyond that there is a real instinct to self-censor and go completely underground. I can’t speak for others, but I can explain why I added a blog roll of others who work in the same mileu.

For illustration, I’ll quote again from the open source article. “These guys aren’t pink with polka dots,” Stanco said of Microsoft employees he’s talked to. “They’re regular people.” A company is nothing more than a group of people working toward common goals, and the characteristics of the individual members are reflected in the character of the group as a whole. Common sense, right? Unfortunately, people are suckers for anthropomorphisms (“corporation” is from the latin word for “body” after all), and it makes for exciting journalism to personalize and villify well-known organizations. Microsoftis often referred to as the”borg”, but it’s reallymore like a herd of cats(Intel is the borg, in case you were wondering). The people who happen to work at Microsoft are pretty immune to broad-brush stereotypes, and getting to know them as people is the best antidote to the seductive spielmeisters who tell bedtime stories about zombie borgs. That’s why I’ll keep pointing to Doug Purdy’s blogabout Macintosh and Religion rather than his “work-related” blog.It’s Doug the person, not Doug the PR image, which is most useful for understanding the cat-herd nature of a place like Microsoft. Blogs are about people, period.

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