Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Back to Basics

One derives many benefits from a holiday. A simple true-ism, of course, and not really the greatest of insights. I use my holidays not only to relax and spend some quality time with Agnes, but also to stand back from the day-to-day developments and activities. For one, I started reading about non-IT related, non-open source, non-Linux topics. One book was about the women who joined and supported the extreme rightwing party in the 1930s in the Netherlands. Before that, I finished Naomi Klein‘s The Shock Doctrine. Currently, David Rothkopf‘s Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the world they are making is providing an alternative viewpoint to Klein’s. The world is more than Linux and open source, with issues of far greater importance and much wider consequences than for instance the petty attitudes of some in the realm of open source. It made me wonder how to continue with Ruminations on the Digital Realm?

One of the corner stones of this weblog was to provide an honest critique of developments in the realm of Linux and open source software from an end-user perspective, the viewpoint of W2L migrators. The key thought was that end-users should provide feedback in order to exert influence on the next generation of Linux distributions. I still believe there is a need to provide that feedback, but how useful is a weblog to achieve that? The most active and best read articles in recent months were a completely bogus review about OpenSUSE and the discussion about the Xubuntu rip off PC/OS.

Taking a somewhat broader perspective and looking further back in time I can not escape the conclusion that perhaps the world of Linux and open source isn’t as open to peer review by other stakeholders (other than fellow developers) as it proclaims to be. If you do not support the ‘pet project of the month’ or write hallellujah reviews of ‘yet another new GUI thingy’ you are accused to spreading FUD, having no knowledge whatsoever about the subject under discussion and/or having mental issues. Personal attacks seem to be a favorite and strange enough some can harbour resentment long after the rest of the world moved on. I don’t shy back from a strong debate, especially not when I caused it in the first place ๐Ÿ˜‰ . But, is it what I want to continue doing with Ruminations on the Digital Realm?

The answer is no. I started writing about Linux and open source software some years ago, because it was fun playing with it. Installing new distributions, trying out tons of new programs and writing about the fun of doing that. Nothing high-minded, nothing political, but writing for fellow hobbyists. Like what I am doing now with Mandriva 2009.0, for no other purpose than my own curiosity. Not because I like Mandriva better than any other distribution, but because it is possible and fascinating to observe first-hand the maturing of a new distribution.

Or like the two series about DesktopBSD and PC-BSD, which resulted in a nice article in the first issue of BSD Magazine and another coming later this year. The BSD crowd was refreshingly mature and they took my criticism like adults. They understood that feedback and the debate contributes to better products. I am sad to say that such maturity is far too rare in the world of Linux.

For me it is time to go back to basics, to the original purpose of writing. The Ultumix’s and PC/OS’s of Linux can take heart for the time being. I will write about the fun things, the good developments and more important issues that are larger than Linux and open source.

Not all issues I will write about stem from pursuing fun. I concur with those who see a growing threat to our civil liberties in the digital realm. Perhaps some regulation of the Wild Wild West was needed, but things are moving way beyond that. My digital privacy and digital rights are more and more violated. What is happening and what can we do about it? What open source tools are available for those who have nothing to hide, but prefer to keep things private nonetheless? It will take some time and research to digg into this, but I am sure it will be highly interesting.

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One thought on “Back to Basics

  1. You have obviously been away to long on you’re holiday. :-)But I’m looking forward for Ruminations II ๐Ÿ™‚

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