Future imperfect

The Industry Standard sees a future filled with "culture-clash" stories from LinuxWorld. But things seem a little cloudy in its crystal ball.


Andrew Leonard
August 10, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

It's not enough to get daily e-mail updates summarizing what the media said yesterday or this morning. Now, courtesy of the Industry Standard's daily news bulletin, Media Grok, we've been treated to a summary of media reports that haven't even been written yet. Looking forward to the coverage of this week's LinuxWorld convention in San Jose, Monday's Media Grok snarkily encourages us to "watch for culture-clash stories this week and weepy quotes from sentimental nerds as the press descends on LinuxWorld ..."

It's a lot riskier, of course, to summarize the future than to review the past. And it especially helps to have a firm grip on the present -- a quality, alas, that in this instance the Industry Standard does not display with respect to Linux.

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First we're told that "Stories about the open-source movement that nurtured Linux are never complete without the sweetly naive and mildly socialist comments of hackers who haven't completely bought into the market-driven economy paradigm in which the rest of us dwell." Then we get a quote from one of these "sentimental nerds." In a story that actually has been published already, Art Tyde, executive vice
president of the Linux support company, LinuxCare, suggests to the San Jose Mercury News that "it might be a good idea for Red Hat to give a chunk of stock to a free software-development organization."

"Let's see if Red Hat is as sentimental as the hackers," concludes the Media Grok missive -- which is headlined "Money for Linux: The Press Wants Irony."

Oops. Never mind that Red Hat already valiantly, if not successfully, attempted to divert a chunk of stock to free software developers. And never mind that LinuxCare is a major competitor to Red Hat, and any statement by one of its senior execs ought to be viewed as coming from a fierce Red Hat rival, and not a "sentimental hacker." The most ironic tidbit that Media Grok misses here is that LinuxCare is itself a primary recipient of substantial Kleiner-Perkins venture capital. More than most Linux companies, LinuxCare is the epitome of "the market-driven economy in which the rest of us dwell" -- a VC-backed, fast-growing start-up.

It sure would be nice if the Standard started successfully predicting the media future -- it would save the rest of the media a hell of a lot of time. But maybe the Media Grok writers should read a few more of the culture-clash stories that have already been published before telling us what we will be reading about Linux tomorrow.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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