Older blog entries for guerby (starting at number 12)

A few notes on media things:

Artificial scarcity
TV is a very low information bitrate media, and highly controlled. That's funny because the most controversial reports sometimes do not appear on TV, even in France we had a few of those going out on movie theaters to avoid TV censorship. Printed newspaper are very expensive to produce ($/bit), and since it's mostly crap nobody buy them anymore, so it reflects the views of those who pay for advertisement. Nobody wants to be an online subscriber for the same reason, why pay for crap? The net result is that journalists can sincerely say that they have no room for your story, which is true, but of course no "why is it so".
Copy/paste from the same source
If you have access to financial news service (I do since I work in a trading room), you'll notice that a huge percentage of so called articles are just slightly modified copy/paste of the financial news. If you follow Google News you'll find out that a lot of articles have exactly the same structure with minimal changes like some student copying homework and trying not to get caught. The reason is the same as above, no money, no time to write articles. I did find out by discussing with friends a few weeks ago how incredibly low the pay is per article for freelancer in France. Flipping burgers pays more.
Social things
I've read a few documents on how journalists in the US (and elsewhere) migrated from being close to the blue collars to being close to the white collars, hence the shift in focus and tone. Serge Halimi (journalist at Le Monde Diplomatique) published a pamphlet a few years ago entitled "The New Watchdogs" ("Les nouveaux chiens de garde") talking about mainstream medias, the title gives a taste of it, ISBN 2-912107-01-6.
Media Self Criticizing
Brings no money in, forget about it.

I'm currently subscribed to only one printed newspaper which is Le Monde Diplomatique. It's thirty two pages of deep and well written papers once a month, sometimes by high profile american activists and professors, honestly that's enough reading for a month IMHO. When I need more, I just google around. The last two monthes are online, I believe there's an english edition (I can find you the reference if you're interested).

Went to see the movie "Last Party 2000" last week, wow. All put together, at some point, it's not unbelievable that we'll see American people fleeing back to Europe seeking freedom, world peace, trying to avoid persecution and general madness, it could be quite an interesting bit of history in reverse. Of course we have to preserve "Old Europe" from all this madness and this without doubt will be quite a challenge.

Hey raph you said you wanted some discussions, let's spark some with a flamethrower :).

Michel Rocard (ex France Prime Minister) now on the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport is proposing an amendment to explicitely rule out patentability on information (processing, ...) at the european parliament. The rationale is beautifuly written. Let's hope it has some influence on the outcome of the ongoing battle to stay free of software patents in Europe.

This story was proposed and immediately refused on slashdot, go figure.

raph, thanks for your kind comments. To be honest after having done my research on the issue, I obviously now have an opinion on the situation and who are the bad and not so bad guyes in Venezuela today. Looks like the constitutional court ruled out wednesday an early referendum and that Jimmy Carter is proposing a reasonable constitutional-based outcome.

I hope the "opposition" won't try to escalate the crisis, that the lockout will cease (it's not a strike as it is commonly understood, the bosses closed the shops and factories, part of the employees are still paid...) and that a democratic and constitutional vote will end this dark story in August without too much blood spilled.

21 Jan 2003 (updated 21 Jan 2003 at 00:41 UTC) »

raph Funny coincidence, I posted yesterday on the fsfe-france mailing list my opinion on the state of mainstream medias and the rise of blogs, and it looks like a french translation of yours :).

However your example illustrates the risk of relying on only one blog, this particular one is a masterpiece of disinformation.

If you're interested in the media and politics, the Venezuela story is exceptional. I have no tie to Venezuela and I wouldn't be able to spot it on a south america map, but I got interested into this case because of total inconsistency in the french media - information released was contradictory and complete nonsense, this couldn't be true - of the reports in the "coup" of April 2002. I was lucky that a few debates and academic conferences took place nearby in Paris so I could make up my mind on the issue, getting mass of factual information that never appeared, and will probably never appear in any mainstream media.

Why the blog is about disinformation, read the paragraphs before

The president himself, in a unconscionable show of his growing contempt for what anybody else thinks, vowed that he would not step down "even if 90% voted yes."

The context is the February 2003 referendum requested by the opposition. This is indeed factually true, but it omits a big piece of the information (hence my disinformation masterpiece claim): the Venezuela constitution allows that a binding presidential referendum in August 2003 (mandate mid term, you need a big enough petition), and the president Chavez always stated that he would follow the result of this (August) constitutionally correct referendum, and never submit to any inconstitutional referendum on the subject.

Now you ask yourself why on earth the opposition is risking to throw the country into total chaos instead of having a public debate (FYI: oppositions control all the TV channels in Venezuala except the state owned one and all the mainstream newspapers) and just waiting for August? Hmmm.

I saw some speeches of Chavez and I must admit I'd never vote for him in a "normal" country, but I guess the other candidates were so obviously corrupted and evil that he got elected anyway.

I really encourage people to spend some time googling/thinking on this, and to compare what you found and what mainstream medias are saying. Here is one USA-based debate, to start with (shows both views on the issue) there is plenty of information around.

I'm looking for a free software solution to index a big (CD-sized) collection of HTML documents (articles from a monthly news publication over a few years). The plan is to have pregenerated static indexes and all documents in plain HTML (should be usable everywhere) and then to offer some additional software for word / date / etc boolean queries and query result management. The software must work on Linux, Win9x and above and MacOS X. May be it's possible to develop / reuse / adapt a plugin for IE and Netscape.

If you have any link or idea on how to achieve this or better places to ask, please let me know either on your diary or by email at guerby@acm.org

If of interest, I'll post a front page article. Thanks for any help!

Cool, I just got a chance to screw up the GCC sources with CVS write permissions :).

The GNAT Ada 95 front end has been commited to the GCC CVS repository a few days ago, happy hacking!

xtifr wrote:

One could also ask, why don't free software and Ada mix? We have a first class Ada compiler, it's a clean, readable language, far more elegant than C++ IMO. But, like C++, it has a (largely undeserved) reputation for bloat.

The GNU Ada compiler is not yet first class, it is not in CVS GCC and most distro don't have it. This should change real soon now. And I guess there are a whole bunch of existing and new Ada free software that will gain visibility as a result, not the least being the GNU Visual Debugger. Also Ada Core Technology is one of the few 100% free software company making money.

Guillaume wrote:

Once a programmer has been crowned "hacker" by his peers (which is quite often what he was aspiring at in the first place) that makes it even harder for him to ever reconsider his technical choices (especially if that involves significant effort like learning C++ is). So if he's ever had bad experiences with C++, he'll stay firmly on his positions that the language just isn't good.

There's also the fact that many of the "masters" (Miguel, Linus, RMS) have publicly stated that they don't like the language. What's more, no hacker as high-profile as Linus' or RMS' is using C++. And as egnor says, almost all successful Free Software projects use C, and thus somehow prove that C is "good enough".

May be those "masters" have good reason not to like the C++ language, I mean other than just being lazy and unwilling to learn, don't you think?

I've attended two RMS talks, at the first one at a direct question about what he thought about C++ he called the language an "abomination", at the second one he made a joke about C++ being ugly that drew applause from the crowd.

About RMS ability to understand quickly a "complex" language, I would remind that he just looked at the Ada Reference Manual and invented a new compilation model for it that is now used by GNAT and commercial compilers (he just didn't like the traditional model ;-).

I think that saying that "high-profile hackers" don't like C++ because they did not learn or understand it or are unwilling to evolve their technical opinions is questionable.

As for C++ at the workplace, I work for a bank, and as some of my coworkers were quick to adopt C++ a few years ago, it looks like they're dropping it even faster in favor of Java (they say C++ is legacy...).

I certainly think people working on free software (most of them on their free time) are choosing their programming language following their own taste or curiosity, and so the mass dynamics found in the workplace doesn't apply and freedom of choice works 100%.

This together with the slow progress of g++ looks like a good explanation of the dynamics observed by egnor.

If you're in NYC, certainly a meeting to attend to, too bad I'm in Paris ;-).

From: secretary@lxny.org
Subject: LXNY Meeting Tuesday 5 December 2000: Robert B. K.
Dewar on how to make millions selling free software
Newsgroups: comp.lang.ada,comp.lang.icon
Followup-To: gnu.misc.discuss
Date: 5 Dec 2000 14:27:13 -0500
This meeting is free and open to the public.

The meeting runs from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. After the meeting full and precise instructions on how to get to our traditional place of refreshment will be given in clear.

Thanks to support of the IBM Corporation, the meeting is at their building at 590 Madison Avenue at East 57th Street on the Island of Manhattan. Enter the building at the corner of Madison and 57th and ask at the desk for the floor and room number.

Robert B. K. Dewar, Head of Ada Core Technologies, a multi-million-dollar multi-national free software company, will talk about how to make money with free software.

Today one of the many rhetorical attacks against free software goes "But is free software ready for the Enterprise?". Ada Core Technologies sells services and software built around GNAT, the Official GNU Compiler for Ada, the Official Computer Language of the United States Military Industrial Complex. Another rhetorical attack goes "But how can you make money selling free software?". Ada Core Technologies makes money.

Robert B. K. Dewar is

Professor of Computer Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NYU,

an expert on programming languages,

a serious programmer who has written compilers, language libraries and real-time OSes, on a wide range of platforms from embedded systems to microcomputers to mainframes,

a mainstay of the robust froup comp.lang.ada,

SPITBOLer extraordinaire,

an effective advocate and amicus at large for free software and the freedom to program,

and official maintainer of the GNU Ada Compiler GNAT.


Michael E. Smith <MESmith@panix.com> General Manager LXNY

Jay Sulzberger <secretary@lxny.org> Corresponding Secretary LXNY

LXNY is New York's Free Computing Organization.


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