The Media

Yes. The media. You know, those dumb tech sites that plague the internet with faux news and blogging personae, filled to the brim with as many ads as you can pack into a page.

Sometimes, I get it into my head that I actually care about the professional writers and what they're saying about Linux. So, like an Alzhiemer's patient, I climb my way over to Google News and search for new information or opinion articles, thinking I might find something worth my time.

How naive of me to think that they might have changed over the past two years. It's not that they're not talking about Linux; they are. They're just not saying anything of substance.

Here's how to recreate the media's articles on Linux, pro or con:

Top X Reasons Why Linux Is (Worse/Better) Than (Windows/OSX/BSD/Solaris) for the (Server/Desktop/Mainframe/Business/Media Center/Average Joe)

It doesn't matter what kind of article they state it will be. It's usually Anti-Linux, but the Pro-Linux ones are the same way. The content will almost always be filled to the brim with absolutely nothing. If you're lucky you'll find an article that actually makes things up (like, say, "you have to use the command line all the time to use Ubuntu" or "there's no way to install programs") so that you can have a chuckle over your lunch.

It's unfortunate that every time someone wants to talk about Linux, they seem interested in only one metric: can Average Joe use it? I don't know. Can your theoretical person use Linux? My theoretical person is wearing a Barney the Dinosaur costume, so he's not in any capacity to use any computer until he takes that thing off. Maybe he could operate a one-button Mac mouse, but my bets are on "no."

But whether or not Average Joe can use Linux is irrelevant. It's a vague metric, designed by journalists who want to be able to post the same article every week and still get the flamers coming back. It's not about content, it's about context. Anyone with any Linux experience worth their weight will tell you that any computer user can use Linux just fine, and for some people, they will flourish. But add enough Microsoft or Apple branded nonsense and you will have a flame war on your hands the likes of which will fuel many, many ad views.

The usual criticism I have of the mainstream media is that they lack the point of Linux in the first place. It's not about Average Joe. In fact, it's not about anything. It's just there. Do you like it? Use it. Posting yet another blog on yet another one of your business oriented eye assaults about how Photoshop doesn't run in Linux won't help anybody. It's not even worth saying any more.

Not that advertising helps anything, either. Yet another faction of the media that seems interested in getting you dissatisfied with your current situation. Microsoft has been trying for years to find a way to get users to upgrade their software, and while Windows 7's astroturfing and silly advertisements may have helped, it seems Microsoft may have run into the same problem Linux has had for years: people don't like installing operating systems, and many of them don't get what they are in the first place.

Meanwhile, lovely Apple has been busy convincing users that the only way to get a worthwhile computer is to buy a shiny new gadget. Touch interfaces, docks and various new fancy upgrades confuse "NEW!" with "better" and "functional."

It's best to ignore it, all things considered. I admit I'll go check out Apple's latest shiny thing every once in a while, but suck on that Kool-aid for too long and it will turn to poison soon enough. I'd rather not buy something new, if that's okay. I absolutely love where I am now, so the media can't really influence me as much as some people, but it's certainly possible.

All in all, the media as a whole is focused on making you think about your platform, but in a certain way that obfuscates the issues rather than making them clearer and more detailed. For people who have seen Inception: It's about planting that seed inside someone's subconscious, and hoping that a tree grows into a consumer mentality that enjoys arguing about OS choices on an ad-infested website.

It's a wonder why I ever decided to read that junk in the first place. We live and we learn.

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