In a recent article by Ashlee Vance in the New York Times, we see a clear bias against the Open Source community. Let’s look at three of his comments and I will point out the neutral equivalents that he should have used.
First he says, “Look out, lobbyists: Here come the open-source zealots.” Zealots is a biased word giving the impression of extremists or radicals. The neutral word would be advocates. So an unbiased rewrite would be, “Look out, lobbyists: Here come the open-source advocates.” Is the New York Times suppose to be neutral? I think so.
And he further claims that the group Open Source for America seeks to “push open-source software on the United States government.” Oh, now the “zealots” are pushy. Just because a group now has a voice in Washington they are pushy? So an unbiased rewrite would be, “Some of the world’s largest technology companies have banded together in a bid to promote open-source software in the United States government.” “Promote” is neutral, “push” is inflammatory.
Last example, “Regardless of their affiliation, open-source types have demonstrated a fondness for backing free software in a vocal, often argumentative manner.” It seems that Ashlee Vance views people of the open source community as argumentative and vocal zealots who are pushing their agenda down the throat of the United States government. Can anyone say stereo-typing? Too much philosophy and not enough reporting. Maybe that is fine for The Register, where Ashlee Vance was an editor, but I guess I expect more from the New York Times.
Notice how these comments sound is we use proprietary instead of open source. “Look out, lobbyists: Here come the proprietary zealots. Some of the world’s largest technology companies have banded together in a bid to push proprietary software on the United States government…. Regardless of their affiliation, proprietary types have demonstrated a fondness for backing closed software in a vocal, often argumentative manner.” One could argue these statements are just as true, maybe even more so. Microsoft and Apple have dominated the governmental scene. Now open source has a voice.