It's been about six months since I huffed that Steam on Linux will never happen. Many of you out there confidently asserted that I'd eat crow on this particular prophecy.
Well, you could have fooled me. In fact, you did. Ten years of relentless hype-hype-HYPE, vaporware promises, press releases with all the substance of cotton candy, all led to my expectation that this was another Duke Nukem Forever, another Chinese Democracy, another The Last Dangerous Visions. If anything, I was hoping that goading from bloggers like me would drive Valve Software to either put up or shut up. God knows, if the energy of media-sucking barking had been put into biting, Steve Ballmer would be writing Ubuntu packages by now.
Well, the waiter has brought my crow and I'm sitting here with my fork and knife ready to call this one a busted prophecy. Except... the suspense is killing me. Steam on Linux keeps almost, but not quite, being almost entirely unrealized.
Latest update I've seen is this Slashdot story, uttering its tiny cheer for Linux getting a 2% market share of Steam now.
What I expect when I hear "Steam on Linux" is a native binary, with full support, with all of the Steam games on it.
What this Slashdot commenter says is:
"A respectable showing? The steam client may be the greatest thing ever but there isn't even a single current AAA title available. Not one. The biggest game they've got is half-life 1. It was released in 1998. 15 years ago. That's something we should be getting from gog.com. This looks to me like a token effort in order to get some cheap advertising on Linux friendly sites such as Slashdot.
News flash, that game's so old it probably plays perfectly in wine anyway. When steam for Linux starts getting AAA titles within a few weeks of the windows release then they will have something worth talking about."
Several point out that so far, "Steam on Linux" = Counter-Strike, Half-Life, and Team Fortress 2. That's nice and all, but even if 50% title support were considered a decent showing, that's 927 titles shy. Steam is rapidly becoming the Microsoft of digital game distributors, too, at about a 70% market share.
Another Slashdot commenter rattles the bones of the ASUS Linux laptop - remember that swell little ditty? (2007: ASUS Eee PC / 2009: "It's better with Windows") For technology corporations, "I'll switch to Linux" has become the way to make Microsoft renegotiate with you. It's the equivalent of ticked-off American voters declaring that they're moving to Canada.
Hey, I'm glad for Steam and game fans and Linux anyway, if this comes through. But realistically, do you really think Steam gives that much of a darn about running on Linux, or is this just a hole card against Microsoft? You've been watching this sitcom for a while now, right? Yes, like you, I want to believe. But reality hasn't done much to reinforce that desire in the past.
But maybe it will this time?
Damn it, will somebody out there either poo or get off the pot? My crow is getting cold here.
Isn't it funny how the whole tech blog universe must light up with this perpetual cycle of unmitigated hype, hostility to lash out at anybody like me who calls "B.S.", and then a month later: It never happened?
Most recent Phoronix story, August 29th, crowed about the old news of Left-4-Dead running on Linux, as if it hadn't already been running on Wine on Linux for two years. Entirely through the graces of the Wine team, not anything to do with Valve. As I've pointed out, you can run anything on Wine with enough determination - that's what it's for! Running on Wine is not native, and without a native Steam client for Linux, Valve has nothing more to talk about than Adobe does when somebody gets P**S* running on Wine.
Fell for it all, didn't you? You naive, gullible, bought-off little sheep. The hype crusade ended, all is quiet from the Phony-nix site and the full-of-Hot-Steam bloggers, and nobody has anything to show for all the angst. Year after year after year, you all fall for it over and over again. Go look up what Albert Einstein said was the definition of insanity. The Internet audience appears to have a reality slice of about a week. Anything before that is lost in the fog of amnesia.
Well, I hope I've kept this story short enough that you can all fit it into your THC-fried short-term memories. I'll try to make regular updates to this non-story until next year, when the spam-paign rolls around again like clockwork, just as it has for the past ten years.
There will NEVER be a native Steam client for Linux
Note that "native" does not count anything running on Wine, which has already been trying to port Steam for years and been sorta-successful. Note the most recent update, which has "Anything related with the Steam UI (Buying games, chat, selecting WHICH game to launch)" in the "not working" category yet lists the status as "platinum". Anywhere else on WineDB, not being able to play a game at all counts as "bronze" at best.
This "Steam on Linux" hype is nothing but woof-woof-woof-woof-woof, has been for over a decade, as I link in the previous post on the subject. I don't know what kind of troll-brain it takes to look at pages promising the same thing in the years 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003, and yet scream in 2012 "NO IT'S FOR REAL THIS TIME!" and expect us all to fall for it like stupid idiots.
It's to get page views and ad clicks and spam-market Valve - possibly also a bluff to threaten Microsoft in order to get them to cooperate more with Valve (companies have done this before). I wouldn't even be mentioning them, which gives them far more attention than they deserve, but they have apparently bought and pocketed most of the Linux blogosphere and set them all to spamming about Valve in big rainbow flashing gifs 24/7.
For God's sake, people, were you all born yesterday?
But because you all insist, we'll post it today and start counting the days. The problem with a "never going to happen" prophecy is that there's never a point where you can say "that's it, the deadline passed!" But as time goes on, perhaps this epoch will reveal to future generations just how cynical the world of corporate asstroturf is.
AND NOW IT'S TIME FOR BREAKDOWN:
"Never gonna get it, never gonna get it!
NEEEEEVER gonna get it, never gonna get it;
Never gonna get it, never gonna get it.
Never gonna get it. (whoa-whoa-WHOOOH-whoa)..."
Dammit, this is frustrating. You see how prophecy works? It's just like in the stories, where you make a wish to a genie and you wish to be a millionaire, and then you're buried in piles of worthless Zimbabwe currency that's worth about $1.88 American, and the genie goes, "Oooooh, you meant in DOLLARS! Well, sorry, you already spent your wish."
A while ago last December, I spake the Prophecy "SOPA shall not pass". And I promised to follow up on that, which I'm doing now.
It came half-true: Lamar Smith has now cut the DNS-blocking part from the SOPA bill. This was the part that made the bill so Draconian and had everybody in such an uproar. So, without the Gestapo-like powers to black out millions of websites at the fingertips of the Black Hand of the MPAA/RIAA, SOPA now becomes another toothless, gummy, mushy bill that kinda-sorta makes online piracy a no-no, just like twenty other laws we already have.
But they're still trying to pass SOPA anyway.
So I do a half-victory-dance for my prophecy that came half-true. Technically speaking (arguing my case just like that aforementioned genie), SOPA, as it originally existed on 12/16/11, is now dead, so that's a point for me. But SOPA in its present form? Meh, might go through. Thus forever splitting future scholars into the people who thought I was right, the people who thought I was wrong, and the people who know I'm half-right.
Part Deux: How Did I Know SOPA Would Not Pass?
Let me tell you a joke: There's this fly, see, and he lands on a bridge. And right when he does that, an earthquake hits. The bridge starts rumbling. The fly gets alarmed and does his fly thing and buzzes back into the air. As he circles the bridge wondering what's happening, the bridge crumbles from the earthquake and falls into the bay. And the fly says to himself: "Damn, I need to lose some weight!"
The Internet Hivemind (Anonymous, 4chan, Reddit, Digg, Slashdot, Twitter, whatever-the-collective name becomes) chances upon a "grassroots" (Har de har har!) outcry against SOPA and joins the fight, because that's where they happened to land. The fight is actually between huge, huge corporations, battling for control of the US government. The bigger, stronger corporations beat the smaller, weaker corporations, and the fight is over. The Internet Hivemind, having done as much damage as a flea to the weaker corporations before the bigger corporations delivered the coup de grace, now land on the corpse of the defeated corporations and thrust their tiny little tin swords into the air and roar. Victory! We did it! We slayed the dragon!
No guys. You had nothing to do with it.
Not that it should let that stop you all from charging around beating your chests and kissing each other's asses for being such hot stuff. By all means, have your fun. You need the boost to your e-testosterone.
Here's why SOPA Classic could not have passed: It was anti-business. Online business is becoming damned important to this economy, need I remind you? It was so anti-business that Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook all came out against it before ANY of you ever HEARD about SOPA. That doomed SOPA, end of line, even before other online businesses began jumping on the bandwagon.
Listen folks, I don't know how this could not be obvious to all of you, but you know that corporate control of the US government that this little thing called "Occupy Wall Street" (perhaps you've heard of it???) has been up in arms about? Well it cuts both ways. What you just saw is an attempted coup in which Old Media, (MPAA/RIAA) tried to wrestle control of government from New Media (Internet companies), and failed. The corporations of New Media still run the show, still buy and sell politicians like baseball cards. You still have no control of your government, and the politicians still simply voted for who wrote them the biggest check.
Once I saw Microsoft, Apple, and Google all three allied against SOPA, I knew it was a won fight. Believe me, all kidding aside, when I solemnly assure you that if Microsoft, Apple, and Google came out against peeing, you'd all have corks superglued into your urethras like Saddam Hussein torture victims and most of you would go tweet "It's not so bad once you get used to it!"
As Smith says, he came to this decision "after consultation with industry groups across the country", not giving a damn about threatened web blackouts, the protesters in Guy Fawkes masks on his front lawn, and all the other hissy fits everybody was throwing. Read: "New Media wrote me a bigger check."
Now, back to the 1,278 OTHER problems where our freedoms are happily chomped away by hungry corporations looking to enslave the world while you all apathetically go back to your Angry Birds games...
Update 1/16/12: Two days later, SOPA officially flatlined. In accordance with the prophecy spake by your humble prophet. Gloat. Gloat. Gloat gloat gloat.
You are worried about nothing. SOPA will not pass.
I'm a prophet.
That's how I know.
Prophecy being a crappy profession on the web, this time, I'm going to play my cards differently. I know better than to waste time telling you all why SOPA will not pass. All that will get me is a bunch of static and flames. Instead, this time, I will play the hoary gadfly you all love me to be, and I will simply keep my cards hidden while calling your bets. After SOPA dies and you all come reeling in a daze back to me all "However did you know, O mighty oracle?" that's when you'll be ready to sit down and listen to me explain it in hindsight.
You don't need to sign a petition. You don't need to vote. You don't need to donate money. Sit on your hands and do nothing. Wu wei.
SOPA will not pass. I'm standing by it. Take your screenshots now. If I am wrong, I cannot begin to guess what kind of foul penalty the blogosphere will extract from me, but I'll leave that to the imagination of you clever kids out there...
Followup 1/16/12: And lo, the prophecy spake by Penguin Pete didst verily come true, first by being half-killed, and then finally by breathing its last upon the House floor. And the Internet Hivemind were deceived greatly amongst themselves, saying to each other "This is our doing! We are in control!" And none gave heed to Penguin Pete's words, that SOPA was doomed because it labored against the interests of big corporations.
You see it over and over again. You find out about this new social site that's just starting up. You join it. And it's so unbelievably cool! It's down-home and quirky and attracts that great eclectic mix of oddballs just like you, and you all chat it up and love it. Then time passes.
And what always happens? It gets more popular, more people join. And then, as if it were manifest destiny, the social network goes to hell. One day you look up - who are all these people? When did your progressive hipster site suddenly become the domain of asstroturfers? What happened to moderation? Why is college_horny_18 and casino_pokerroom_2384 spamming you and why doesn't anybody care? When did the front page become a mirror copy of the exact same stories on every other social bookmark site's front page?
You're saying to yourself right now, "Hey, I thought I was the only one who saw that!" I used to think that, too. But recently I've been hearing it from all around me as well. Which is my cue to announce that I've found a new law of the Internet: Social bookmarking sites will always deteriorate into slums.
It's time we applied some social studies to social bookmarking. You can see a lot of things that virtual neighborhoods have in common with physical real estate developments, and some things that are treated differently, but shouldn't be. Such as...
Small neighborhoods are better than big neighborhoods.
After all, isn't life nicer in the suburbs than it is in the big city? When a social bookmarking site gets too big, it degenerates into the same kind of social problem that a big city has: too many strangers and too much activity. Which will never be fixed because...
Social bookmarking sites only brag about big numbers.
They never brag about how well-behaved their members are or how high-quality their bookmarked links are. It's all about how many users you have, and therefore how many impressions your ads make per hour. And then when conditions become too crowded...
Bad neighbors drive away good neighbors.
If only it could be the other way around! But you see this both in the physical world and the virtual worlds online. Bad neighbors move in, good neighbors get fed up and leave, more bad neighbors tend to move in after that because they're the only ones who can stand it. The 'broken window theory', applied to social networks. And the converse of that is...
New members behave better than old members.
This is because old members have had time to test the limits and find out exactly where the boundaries lie. They're less shy about telling somebody else off. New members learn all of the bad examples and none of the good. And while this is going on...
Spammers and asstroturfers drive away good citizens.
This is just like how you want to move out of a city when the crime gets too bad. When a social network gets so saturated with spam that you can hardly find a real, live person any more, you want to move on. And if there's one thing we've learned from the Internet by now, it's that...
We will always have spam and asstroturf.
We've all racked our brains and tried to solve spam, and the spam has kept coming for 20 years now. In the case of a social bookmark site, nobody does anything about it, because...
Social bookmark sites are slumlords.
When you have a problem and wonder why somebody up there doesn't solve it, ask yourself this: Does the problem cost the webmaster money? If not, you have a better chance of spinning a coccoon and turning into a butterfly than to get this problem solved. I've never seen something so unresponsive as the administration of a social website. Besides, after a certain point it can be argued that the site administrators couldn't fix it anyway, since...
Social bookmarking doesn't scale.
Because people who start social bookmarking sites go into it thinking that it's just like running any other site. When the membership gets into the seven-figure numbers, the staff of the site will still be poking along with the same six guys they started with in their garage. They'll scale up the server farm, sure. They'll hire more people for that. But policing the membership? Hell no. There just isn't enough money in it to make a difference to them. And we can't fix the problems of spamming and asstroturfing by voting it down, because...
Voting is an economy, and it's affected by inflation.
On a small site, your individual vote counts for more. You're in a substantially greater bargaining position when your vote is 1/300th of the site's clout, than you are when your vote is 1/300,000th. But when a site gets so huge that a story can get thousands of votes within one hour of being posted, it's out of most people's hands. Big blocks of user nicks are bought and sold on the social bookmarking black market for pennies apiece. Huge private interests get their pet story voted to the top. Spammers can run amok.
And the final nail in the coffin:
There will never be enough perceived value in social bookmarking to fix it.
Who would pay for it? Even if the fee were a dollar for joining, that's still more expensive than the sites that let you join for free. Social bookmarking already requires a serious investment of time. You gain some sort of intangible brownie points, usually "karma" or another numerical score, for submitting the best stories or making the best comments. But that makes a difference to about 20 people at the top of the list, who have to work 12-hour days just to get that score and stay ahead of the pack.
And there goes another great idea of the semantic web, ruined by the worms.
Update: 9/22/08 To put a finer point on the lousy resource situation: today there's a Reddit posting for a job opening, in which it is revealed that Reddit is just FIVE people. Second biggest SB+forum site on the web. Five people. A fast food restaurant staffs better than that. So now you know why reported problems get ignored.
Aaaaaw, you scrolled all the way down here just to see this?
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in some of my world. Readers like you make it all worthwhile!
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