Journalism, Age, and Mono

Daniel Stone has criticised the IT journalist Sam Varghese for writing a negative article about a college student [1].

The student in question is 21 years old, that means he is legally an adult in almost every modern jurisdiction that I am aware of (the exception being Italy where you must be 25 years old to vote in senatorial elections [2]). It’s well known that college students often do stupid things, it’s not at all uncommon for college parties to end up involving the police. When 21yo college students do foolish things that involve breaking the law is it common for people to defend them because they are only students? I’m pretty sure that the legal system won’t accept such a defense. So while Sam was rather harsh in his comments (and did go a bit far with implying links to GNOME/Mono people), I don’t think it’s inappropriate on the basis of age. That said, a casual glance at life insurance premium tables by age will show that men who are less than 25 years old are prone to doing silly things, so I won’t hold this against the student in question as I’m sure he will be more sensible in future – I haven’t included his name in this post.

It’s often said that “you shouldn’t do anything that you would be ashamed of if it was described on the front page of a newspaper“, while I think that statement is a little extreme I do think it’s reasonable to try and avoid writing blog posts that you would be ashamed of if a popular blogger linked to it with a negative review. You have to expect that a post titled “Fuck You X” where X is the name of some famous person will get a significant reaction, and no-one can reasonably claim to have not wanted to offend anyone with such a post. Personally I would prefer that when people disagree with me they provide a list of reasons (as Sam did) rather than just a short negative comment with no content (as is more often the case).

Here is Sam’s article [3].

Here is the original version of “Fuck you, Richard Stallman and other GNU/Trolls” [4].

Here is an updated version titled “On Mono and the GPL” [5].

Here is a good rebuttal of the points made in the article [6] by “Cranky Old Nutcase”. Note that this rebuttal is linked from reference [5], it is a positive sign when someone links to documents that oppose their ideas to allow the reader to get all the facts. One significant fact that Cranky Old Nutcase pointed out and which was missed by Sam is that the Indian student wrote “A mentor of mine told me that patents are to prevent companies from getting sued, not to sue companies” while the Microsoft case against Tomtom is conclusive proof that patents ARE for the purpose of suing other companies and they ARE used in such a manner by Microsoft! I wonder whether the “mentor” in question is a Microsoft employee…

On the topic of Mono, I think that Alexander Reichle-Schmehl has the most reasonable and sensible description of the situation regarding Mono in Debian [7].

In spite of the nice dinner they gave me I still don’t trust Microsoft [8].

6 comments to Journalism, Age, and Mono

  • Jaymz Julian

    Sounds like Troll’s Remorse to me. Just say “I did it for the lulz” three times over, and that goes away.

  • FWIW, Italy is not an exception to the “21 year old is being adult”. In Italy you’re adult at 18. Full stop. With that age you can drive, vote, and legally decide about everything which concern your life.

    In spite of that, for the specific chamber of the senate, you must be 25. This is an age restriction which has nothing to do with “being legally adult”. Similar age restrictions for specific topics exist in other countries without hindering being adult.

    Also, you must also be 50 year old to be a candidate as the president of the republic, would you claim that under 50 you are not an adult then?

  • k3ninho

    Stone’s comment troubled me because the ITWire article listed reads like a flame. An old-school mailing list flame of an under-educated newcomer. I wondered why Daniel Stone didn’t note the tone of each post. If it were my site, I wouldn’t have posted that on ITWire…

    It seems to me that this is an ‘eternal september’ kind of phenomenon: newcomers who don’t know the history or culture feel technologically empowered to share their opinions, and publish noise. This noise causes more commentary of an issue without any new ideas or meaningful progress.

    @Jaymz: Just a note of warning. If you say “I did it for the LULZ” three times in front of a mirror at midnight, Moot himself will come and tell you a bedtime story — all artistic works of fiction and falsehood not to be taken as fact.

  • Casper

    Sam Varghese could have written a much better article on the subject. For some reason he choose to make it personal. I think that is weak. There is no point in crucifying someone, if you want to address the views and beliefs of the person, no matter how ill-informed.

    Cranky Old Nutcase wrote the article the way it should have been written.

  • etbe

    Stefano: For the majority of the population who never have a realistic chance of winning an election the age limit on high office is not an obstacle. For the small number of people who do have a chance, it seems to usually take them decades of work to build up to it. I still believe that in Italy someone can’t exercise all the rights and privileges of an adult until the age of 25.

    Casper: I also believe that Sam’s article was a little harsh, while I strongly disagree with what the Indian guy wrote I chose not to mention his name to give him a better chance of letting this escape Google’s notice in a few years time. However Sam’s article was strictly and methodically factual.

    I agree with you that Sam could have made his points about the content of the blog post in question more clearly with a more positive tone.