Compare and Contrast

January 25, 2007

There were two stories on the blogosphere that really caught my eye yesterday. Both at first glance are about large corporate entities trying to FUD the public. The first is the e-fracas (etc etc etc) caused by Microsoft paying Rick Jellife to correct any inaccuracies on the Wikipedia pages concerning ODP and OOXML.

The second was the story that the American Association of Publishers has paid a hefty sum to a PR agency for what amounts to a slur campaign against the free information movement (via).

I’m gobsmacked by the reaction in the first case – if we leave aside the techno-religious mudslinging the main criticism seems to be that MS were acting in an underhand fashion and their approach wasn’t transparent. This story didn’t make CNN because the wikipedians found out about it after the fact and reported it, it made CNN because Rick blogged it and several people at Microsoft confirmed it. How much more transparency is needed? The wikipedia version of NPOV is evidently not intrinsic to basic notion of building a trusted public commons.

I’m gobsmacked by the second story in itself. When I first read it on Peter Suber’s blog I assumed he was uncovering some misreporting and was going to conclude by commenting that making this kind of stuff up doesn’t help, but it seems to be the straight story. I felt defensive and a bit downcast at first, then I realised that this is great news. When your detractors resort to FUD you know you’re right, and you know you’re winning.

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