Tiptoeing Around a Sleeping Giant?

by Rob Flickenger

I think it's fascinating that the major news sites (NYTimes, Washington Post, C/NET) are outspoken about Geer losing his job immediately after contributing to a report highly critical of Microsoft's monopoly, but none of them link to the actual report!


I believe this is it:


http://www.ccianet.org/papers/cyberinsecurity.pdf


Now that I have had a moment to actually read the report that may have
gotten Dan Geer fired, I think I understand the situation a bit better. Yeesh. It's probably about 5% tech and 95% anti-Microsoft vitriol. It doesn't offer any solutions, it only repeats the mantra "Monoculture is bad so you should stop using Microsoft, only Microsoft won't let you". Taking just the objective points, the whole thing could be boiled down to a single page (or maybe just a paragraph).


Maybe the authors know their intended audience better than I do, but I still find it hard to believe that one's job would be threatened by such a silly paper. If I'm going to be fired over something I wrote, I sure hope that it reads better than that report!


Why all of the hooplah over something that might as well have come from the user comments on Slashdot? And perhaps more interestingly, with all of the buzz about this highly controversial report, why are so few sites linking to it?


Are journalists afraid of going the same route as Geer for criticizing the Microsoft juggernaut? Maybe the fact that the CTO of a major security corporation was let go after contributing to the report (on his own time!) is newsworthy, despite representatives from @Stake denying it. Maybe the text in question wasn't worth referring to, in the eyes of the editors (but then, why do some of them link to microsoft.com and nowhere else?)


Alas, we'll likely never know the real truth about Dan's situation or why the news outlets are careful to tiptoe around Microsoft's feelings. But if you find yourself in a position of being threatened to keep your opinions to yourself, even if you go to great lengths to make it clear that they are your opinions (and not those of your employer), I highly encourage you to speak your mind. If we find that we've built a sleeping giant, it's our duty to light a fire under them from time to time, whether they like it or not.

Have you ever been censored or threatned to keep quiet by your employer? (Anonymous contributions welcome! =)


5 Comments

simonstl
2003-09-27 13:01:07
Monoculture a real problem
I'm not sure that saying "it's just a rant on monoculture" is any kind of answer here. If anything, I'd argue the dangers of monoculture are worth presenting a good deal more loudly than that report does. (I don't see much in the content of the report that I disagree with strongly, though.)


Network effects have pluses and minuses. If you enjoy the pluses, don't be surprised when someone points out the minuses.

anonymous2
2003-09-27 15:50:44
Monoculture a real problem
you're missing the point; while monoculture may be a problem, Geer, like the vast majority of the outspoken anti-Microsoft crowd, spent far too much time voicing his emotionally-charged viewpoint, and far too little time offering actual evidence.
anonymous2
2003-09-27 16:11:04
Traditional news sites seldom provide links
Regarding the lack of links to the offending report: its not surprising. The newspaper sites don't provide many links as a rule, nor does CNet for some reason. Only a link to a corporation's home page is generally provided, apparently automatically.
anonymous2
2003-09-27 16:42:42
Monoculture a real problem
Microsoft was found to have violated the antitrust laws in federal court. In that case, mountains of evidence were presented to back up the basic assertions about its monopolistic practices contained in this article.


anonymous2
2003-09-29 03:17:07
journalists afraid?
that would be a first...


So a man is fired for writing an unsubstantiated report that he probably created by copying and pasting comments from anti-Microsoft flames on slashdot.
Hardly newsworthy except to conspiracy theorists who see big bad Microsoft as being behind everything that is (according to them) Bad in the world.
At least his employer dared do the right thing, which is expect a decent product from their people and take action when they don't deliver.
Most likely this report isn't this person's first such and he'd been warned to do a better job in the future or else.