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The Seven Kinds of Ziff-Davis or CNET anti-Linux FUD Pundits

Date/Time Permalink: 01/25/08 06:25:51 pm
Category: Humor

While the bloggers in my neighborhood seem to be trying to catalog the FOSS users as if we were a species of butterfly or something, I thought I'd contribute to the noise. Only my offering will be a taxonomy of those writers whose mighty corporate paychecks make them columnists while their desire to roll around on the floor with the kids and be cool makes them "bloggers". And then we'll narrow that field down to the ones who turn their attention to open source software.

By co-incidence, Ziff-Davis (aka ZD-NET) is the company behind something like 50% of what the media has to say about computers, through various tentacles. CNET was the Pepsi to ZD-NET's Coke (or Coke to Pepsi?), but now they merged. But of course this list applies to the bloggage of corporate A-listers, no matter who they work for.

the Parrot - If you run Microsoft's ad campaign through the Emacs 'dissociated press' script, this is something like what you'll get from a FUD parrot. Outrageous claims like "Linux is less secure and more expensive!" run right through them like chili through a cat. Actually, this is their whole blogging strategy for any topic, FOSS-related or no. I'll leave the Monty Python quotes to you.

the Schizophrenic - Flame about how Linux sucks. Wait, you sound like a FUD fountain, so mention that you run Linux all the time. Now complain about Linux some more. Now justify that you have been so loyal to Linux, you still have a copy of the Ygdrassil CD. Now scream that Linux is the sure path to Hades. Now cover for it by asserting that you were running Linux back when it came on clay tablets. Rinse.

the Time Traveler - Since time naturally moves forward, to freeze yourself in 1992 and refuse to let another minute pass is the equivalent of traveling in time relative to the progress of everyone else. So the time travelers voice their complaints about Linux based on everything they observed about it at version 0.65.2 - It had no games, no support, nobody used it, it ran about ten programs and took all of its commands in assembly. And they insist this picture is still relevant today. It doesn't matter if some Linux user sends them a screenshot of an Enlightenment desktop running Quake 3 Arena on Linux; it will just get deleted and ignored.

the Wicked Stepmother - Is it right or is it wrong? That depends on who did it. Linux has to stay home and mop the dungeon and shovel out the boar's stable, but the rest of the operating systems get to go to the ball. No matter what Linux does - command lines, emulation, multiple distros - it's a vice until the instant somebody else does it, and then it's a virtue. Oh, looky, it's the ls man page - for Windows, on a page written with ASP.NET. Another smart, revolutionary innovation!

the Reverse Psychologist - This sneaky weasel comes on all friendly, wanting Linux to succeed, wanting world domination for Linux - as soon as it meets their agenda. Their agenda is always, "make it an identical clone of MS Windows". Linux, they say, should do it like Windows does, dozens of Redmond patents be damned. No difference is too slight to be pounced upon as the reason why Linux didn't make it on the desktop this year. The color of the wallpaper. The shape of the mouse pointer. The binary format. The name. The fact that Steve Ballmer farted a B-sharp note at 5:32PM and a couple of Debian users were 30 seconds late and off-key.

the Gossip Queen - Did you see that headline in the news-feed - the one that made you yell "WTF?!?!?!" as you went to click on it? Post titles are important in Web 2.0. The post under that title can be nothing but a paragraph of speculation with no citations and padded out to nine pages with the dancing advertisements, but who cares anyway? So go ahead and post the most outrageous lie you can: "Proof that GNU was founded by Josef Mengele!" "Linux is forbidden in the book of Leviticus!" "Windows logo discovered on Mars!" "Penguins spread typhoid!" It kept the Weekly World News in business all those years, and it will keep the traffic coming today, too.

the Ingratiating Critic - The most minor and least often-seen of the bunch. The ingratiating critic will find some tiny detail to congratulate Linux on. But it has to be insignificant, under-reported, played down, and something that Microsoft already did. "Oh, look at that. Server usage has gone up by at least 0.001%. Very well done. By the way, you Linux kids had better click on every ad on this page and buy a ton of stuff from our sponsors, because you owe me big time."

Did I count right? Is that seven? Yeah. Should I make it eight? Nah, it's late, and Nethack beckons.

weird idol

UPDATE 3/11/08: A-a-a-and they're history! Ziff Davis just filed for bankruptcy. Yet another OldThink tech dinosaur fails to connect with those crazy young kids and finds itself trapped in a dusty museum that nobody visits.

Because something is happening here. But you don't know what it is... Do you? Mister Jooooooones?

Update: 6/30/08 C|NET just got bought out by CBS - yes, the TV broadcasting company. And even though that link goes to TechCrunch, they have actual facts this time. (astounding!!!)

Update: Some half a year after the fact, I just happened to notice that "Boycott Novell" cited me, and as a result of my going there to check out the context, I now know that Microsoft-co-founder Paul Allen owns C|Net. Color me unsurprised.

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