Public Broadcasting, Private Agendas.

The BBC runs a weekly technology news show called Click. Most weeks it covers the basic commercial software news and website discussions relating to gadgets or technology available at various shows and exhibitions. Occasionally they cover the topic of Open Source, Linux and the Free software community rarely do they bother to provide a good or balanced commentary. They usually manage to drop in comments about “amateur” , ” Spare time”, “Hippy” or “Overly technical” into the report.

This week Click reports on Open Source and it appears they are making a concerted effort to cover the details and provide balanced and non divisive commentary. Okay we have the usual Chris Long style report and this time around he wants to make a little joke about open ketchup bottles, “its open sauce, geddit ?” no Chris we dont, the Eighties called and they want their comedy back. There is still the usual “oooh look scary boot screen” commentary and a suggestion that OSS is for bearded hippies, again Mr Long your getting it wrong.

The report was concerned with the question “Can non techie types install Linux “.

Since most users have Windows preinstalled and if they have to reinstall and configure hardware and device drivers they are as likely to employ me or some other local techie to do the job its not a fair question. I would think Ubuntu and other Linux operating systems are making an incredible leap in the ease with which you can install the operating system and have all the applications and drivers available.

I can point to a few non technical users who have different experiences. Vicky , of RoseVibe fame has braved ahead and installed it for herself and the biggest problem we have had is getting her into a good local support community who dont expect her to open a terminal. Then theres Paul Shepard who we can class as a amateur techie who finds that the support community surrounding OSS is far superior to anything he has experienced before. Finally there is Jo Parker and Suzy Miller of Certain Shops who actually received a preinstalled Ubuntu environment and are running a business with it and in the three weeks since they started they have not come crashing to a halt because of the software. Thats three stories I can point to all non techie, non bearded hippies and they would mistake Open Source for ketchup.

Yes , yes okay some things are still not working out of the box , some Sound cards, some Webcams , some Printers and Modern PC games. Not for a lack of capability but for a lack of awareness by vendors and producers that there is a potential market with no cost of entry to gain licensing and development rights to. But I digress.
Click does go onto a different presenter who does appear to understand the values in open source with its responsiveness and the ease of support contact as he , Rob Freeman , discusses Open Office and how it meets the needs of wordprocessing, spreadsheets and presentation tools all without the need for bad puns or “ooooh scary techie” commentary, why is that I wonder ?

It is great news when any open source software makes it into mainstream news. It is even better news when the mainstream news begin to treat Open Source Software in a professional and unbiased fashion and we need this to occur more often. Please take time to go watch the show and comment on the their website about your own experiences and views.

I believe that Paul Mellors ( Voodoo ) is planning to attend the Lugradio live event this coming July and wants to bring a video camera to get plenty of short video comments from everyone. This is a great opportunity to show the BBC that Open Source Software is not about bearded hippies or scary wild eyed technical representatives but its about real people and real community that provides support to all its users indiscriminately and without talking down to them. in fact as I type this I am reminded of our community gallery and other photos.

So please show your support and encourage better reporting and more coverage of the OSS community
Thanks for reading.

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6 Comments on “Public Broadcasting, Private Agendas.

  1. *grin* actually I’m starting to quite like Ubuntu Nik, though since my Gran refers to me as her ‘hippy’ granddaughter maybe I’m genetically predisposed to liking it, after all if that’s how the ‘experts’ refer to users, who am I to naysay ;0}

  2. i really went off that show because of such comments, though never really got into it again after the name change.

  3. I too stopped watching it because of their deliberate bias and woefully inaccurate reporting of the free and open source community output. They have a distinct lack of respect for free software which shows in their reporting.

  4. In listening and giving feedback at least the BBC knows there are a few more of us out there who are watching. If I didnt watch it then they would never get the feedback and information telling them there is a problem in their reporting bias.

    Hence the post.

  5. I never watched it, because most of what’s on TV today is crap. But I heard about it at the last LUG meeting 😉

  6. I agree with the general tenor of the BBC report. I might have written something very similar and there should be no axes here.

    I run my business on Linux servers. I’ve wanted to run my desktops on Linux too. Every year I try. Every year I go back to Windows. Different but decreasing reasons. But then came Vista and it was easier to move from XPP to Kubuntu then to the MS flagship.

    That’s for me, a lifetime in computing and 25 years on desktop PCs. Do I think (K)Ubuntu 7.04 ready for Joe Public?

    Nearly, its almost there. But there is still a gap. To deny it is a threat to Ubuntu itself. The last steps can be the most difficult of all. Yes some grannies can get it working without hassle. But it is not sufficiently bullet proof and jargon free to not create disaster. Disaster is, for instance, not booting after installation or failing in the upgrade process. I saw both those on 7.04 installation upgrade and on kit without Ubuntu issues. Trivial for me to fix – but if a fresh user has to hear about Grub then you don’t have a marketable product.

    In business I was taught to always treat a complaint as a gift. It is a free information on why the customer doesn’t like your product. Listen, understand and don’t shoot the messenger.