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The Voice of Groklaw 198

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the behind-the-scenes dept.
Random BedHead Ed writes "LinuxPlanet has an interesting interview with Pamela Jones, the paralegal and blogger who created Groklaw. Groklaw has become an indespensible site for geeks who need even more SCO updates than even /. provides - and if the site's inclusion in the footnotes of one of IBM's court documents is any indication, it's been handy for people involved in the case as well. No wonder the site won Best News Site in O'Reilly's OSDir.com Editor's Choice Awards for 2003. It shows how useful and influental a well-run collaborative website can be."
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The Voice of Groklaw

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  • slashdot (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:16AM (#7867019)
    It shows how useful and influental a well-run collaborative website can be.

    Yes, unlike Slashdot.
    • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:42PM (#7868314) Homepage Journal
      Funny either way you interpret it.

      Slashdot was (not at the expense of _is_) extremely influential in the beginning of widespread Open Source adoption among technologists and future-technologists -- Slashdot helped the up-coming generation of developers, admins and destined tech-management types to understand and appreciate Open Source. When I was in my late teens (early/mid 80's) Microsoft was cool, Apple was a religion and IBM was the "Big Brother" Monopoly. Since, oh, the late 90's the tide changed so that Microsoft is the "Big [DRM] Brother" Monoploy, IBM is cool and Apple is a religion (some things don't change). Slashdot was pivotal for this generational mindshift. Face it, the real victory with Open Source/Linux isn't measured by server installations or stock market capitalization alone; the compelling trend is the number of developers adopting the Free platform. Stunning, because a major component of business technology decisions is available talent pool. This is one reason VB/ASP, inherently brain-damaged, were so popularly implemented; better technology existed but there was no end of available developers (hence, Balmer's love of developers).

      Groklaw provides a different purpose. FOSS is no longer in its infancy or adolescense. Proprietary software can not reasonably claim that FOSS is insecure, under-performing, amatuerish, or unproven. Proprietary software is on the defensive on those fronts; the technological hurdles have been jumped. Proprietary software has shifted to fight for its survival and relevancy based on fears of litigation and regulation. IP infringement worries, singled out in 2002's Halloween document (IIRC), was the biggest concern on business leaders' minds so we have SCO vs. IBM (which is a legal case primarily to give pretext to SCO slandering Linux and its developers in public). Not a coincidence. To counter this broadside, as proprietary software vendors must have hoped, the loosely banded FOSS community would have to pay for serious legal representation which it had no structure to begin to afford; akin to Walmart suing Joe And Betty's Corner Mart and Bovine Rendering Plant -- no contest.

      What happened was two-fold, and I bet proprietary software antagonists behind SCO vs IBM were caught off-guard. First, IBM didn't do the less expensive alternative and settle with or buy out SCO, but chose to fight this fight. Also, Redhat didn't sit this one out in order to protect its necessary profit margins, choosing instead to answer SCO's slander and FUD with its own suit. Businesses don't like to litigate when it is cheaper to settle, thus the surprise.

      Second, the community didn't just flock to Slashdot and bitch about how SCO sux, nor did it mount DDoS attacks against SCO (which would have brought the wrath of public condemnation against it, as SCO must have hoped, since they obviously had prepared Press Releases for such an occasion; the DDoS attacks SCO did experience were not community based, and, in fact, the community worked to stave off such attacks). Nor did the community just rely upon RMS (notably silent, BTW), ESR, Bruce Perens and many other FOSS heavy weights to answer SCO's charges (though their input is important). What happened was unexpected and in the truest spirit of Open Source: a beneficiary of Open Source development offered her special skills to solve a threat against the community which earned her appreciation. Groklaw was born: Open Source, community-based legal research and analysis, lead by Pamela Jones. She has donated her expert skills, time, sweat, and resources. Moreover, others who appreciate FOSS have donated their expertise, time, resources, as well bring clarity to the fuzzy fog of FUD from SCO and others who would destroy Free and Open Source Software. The community has accepted her as the maintainer of this project, much as it accepts the maintainers of technical projects. As a result the legal briefs and backgrounds along with the quotes from all parties in the press and media are available for public scrutiny. Indeed, this resource

      • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:24PM (#7868548) Journal
        Excellent analysis! A few things bear emphasis:

        As important as the reprinting of legal documents, press releases, articles, etc., are both the commentary and the research. The documents are very important, of course. The anti-FUD campaign relies on having a central repository, a searchable database. Indeed, much effort has gone into transcribing PDF documents so that they might be more easily searched. Kudos to the selfless volunteers.

        The commentary is important because it allows those with a legal background to explain the finer points of the law, and those with a technical background explain some of the complexities of the code. In other words, we compare notes.

        The research is important because facts are being uncovered that might otherwise be passed over. Assertions made by SCO can be countered with a multitude of facts, facts which are gleaned by volunteer researchers poring over old mailing lists.

        The last thing that I think should be emphasized, you put thusly, "Indeed, the Open Source community is spreading outside the domain of technologists into other disciplines." There is precedent for this method in Academia, but Academia has always been somewhat aloof from the rest of society. Or perhaps it's the other way around. At any rate, Open Source is a cultural phenomenom, not just a development method. It truly is a social movement, one that is idealistic and practical at the same time. It's a paradigm shift, and Groklaw is a manifestation of that.

        If Open Source is viral, it is viral in the sense that it is invading our culture, and changing it. I don't believe that it will lead to an overthrow of capitalism, but I do think it will counter balance capitalism and de-emphasize the capatislist marketplace as the be all and end all.

        Anyway, I could go on, but I've yakked enough.
      • Since, oh, the late 90's the tide changed so that Microsoft is the "Big [DRM] Brother" Monoploy, IBM is cool and Apple is a religion (some things don't change). Slashdot was pivotal for this generational mindshift.

        Essentially, what you are admitting to here is the massive, biased groupthink that goes on. Have people already so easily forgotten IBM's past sins? Oh, they've adopted Linux, so let's welcome them into our arms with praise on Slashdot! It's sheep-like.

        Second, the community didn't just floc
        • ...Second, the community didn't just flock to Slashdot and bitch about how SCO sux, ...

          The operative word there is "just." The implication is that the community did MORE than just complain. Concerning "communism" the effects we see in /. and Groklaw have little to do with either Marx's ideas of collectivism or his ideas about economics. These effects reach far beyond anything Marx could have imagined. We see the barest outline of an unanticipated property made possible through the ability of people
    • I don't know about that. Like Slashdot, Groklaw has a lot of interesting material of little immediate practical value. Thats why I love it.

      I find that now I waste a significant portion of my day compulsively reloading Groklaw. And when the stories on Grocklaw slow down for hollidays and the like, I find myself jittery and confused.

      I know Slashdot will lag 24 hours and I need the play-by-play as it happens.
  • by dolo666 (195584) * on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:16AM (#7867021) Journal
    That's one way to get revenge for /. not being chosen news site of 2003!
  • Impossible (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kethinov (636034) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:16AM (#7867022) Homepage Journal
    Groklaw has become an indespensible site for geeks who need even more SCO updates than even /.
    And I thought Slashdot was obsessed...
  • I think.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by 0x12d3 (623370) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:19AM (#7867031)
    Slashdot has a crush on Groklaw. Cowboy Neal, Pamela Jones, it could work.
  • by Samuel Duncan (737527) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:19AM (#7867034) Journal
    I worked nearly sixty years in industry with owning my own business for 45 years. I encountered such strange lawsuits every 3 years or so.
    If I got agitated every time about this like you do then, well, I wouldn't posting this message. (Unless someone writes an astral interconnect module for Perl.)

    Someone making ridiculous claims and wanting a huge heaps of money isn't actually news. Much more people do this for a living than you might guess.

    • by scrytch (9198) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:37AM (#7867103)
      I worked nearly sixty years in industry with owning my own business for 45 years. I encountered such strange lawsuits every 3 years or so. If I got agitated every time about this like you do then, well, I wouldn't posting this message. (Unless someone writes an astral interconnect module for Perl.)

      Delusional IP lawsuits are certainly nothing new, even ones surrounded with press releases. SCO may even have some kind of case against IBM. It's Darl's grandiloquent pronouncements (to use a genteel term) about IP, Linux Hippies, and the unconstitutional GPL making the baby jesus cry that's what's generated so much "buzz" in this community.

      Apple's "look and feel" lawsuits spring to mind ... those created a lot of buzz, and that was before online communities were nearly what they are now. So while it's nothing new, I don't really think that automatically means the community it affects will or should be jaded about it.

      Check CPAN, there might be a Tie::Plane::Astral in there somewhere
    • by Fortunato_NC (736786) <verlinh75 @ m s n . com> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:41AM (#7867117) Homepage Journal
      Someone making ridiculous claims and wanting a huge heaps of money isn't actually news. Much more people do this for a living than you might guess.

      Yes, they're called trial lawyers...and one of them wants to be your next president [johnedwards2004.com]

      • I thought they were called spammers.
      • Not all trial lawyers are evil, some actually help people. Remember, the client has to walk in the door.

        And yes, a really good one [johnedwards2004.com] wants to be your next president. I for one think he'd be an awesome president.

        (Not that a wet dishrag wouldn't be an improvement over what we have now..)
        • by lunenburg (37393) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @12:52PM (#7867426) Homepage
          And yes, a really good one wants to be your next president. I for one think he'd be an awesome president.

          Unless you care about copyright abuse. I'm a North Carolinian and have had several discussions with John Edwards staffers in Raleigh, and he's completely in the pocket of the MPAA/RIAA.

          Take it from a tarheel - pass on Edwards.
          • I think most people already have.
            Clark and Dean is the contest for the Caorlinas.

            I hope it is not decided before the Carolinas
            primary. A lively debate would do some good.

            mike
          • Some of Edward's first senate campaign ads were bragging about his being voted one of the six best lawyers in the nation. Those stopped after a few runs and they started pushing his 'humble small town roots' angle.

            He set the record for jury awards in NC and then beat his own record at least twice more. Then NC and several other states passed laws to set maximum awards for personal injury lawsuits. One of the first things he did after winning his senate race was to introduce legislation to allow personal

            • one of the six best lawyers in the nation.

              Sadly, the best lawyers have their passion for right and wrong squeezed out of them completely.

              It's kind of like the effect of seminary training causing people to lose their religious zeal.

              Particularly, this issue arises in the SCO case, where David Boies [slashdot.org] is part of the law firm that owns a fifth of SCO and will profit if this legal action is successful.

              This is the same David Boies that did such a nice job of cutting to pieces Microsoft's legal defense for the

  • The art (Score:2, Funny)

    by AndreyF (701606)
    I like the artistic touch in the top right... it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside...
    /. should get a new layout (or a choice of layouts)...
  • by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:43AM (#7867126) Homepage
    Groklaw is the best thing, so far, to come out of the case.

    There is an ever increasing need for common ground between the legal and geek communities, and Groklaw appears to be it. Neither techs or lawyers understand each other's worlds, this goes a long way, to bridging the gap.

    A hearty "atta boy" to Pam, and a nomination for whatever annual award there is on the web.
    • by bratgrrl (197603) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @01:55PM (#7867722)
      Absolutely right. Groklaw is fantastic.

      The part I get depressed over- Groklaw is unique because PJ does actual research and fact-based analysis. Sure, we expect ZDNet to print uninformed, baseless opinions, but all these other "real" news and financial media- Forbes, Washington Post, NY Times, etc etc, publish shallow, 'he said she said' garbage. 'This one says I didn't do it, the other says did to.' What crap. Why even bother? In the SCO deal, Forbes reached a new low with Daniel Lyons. There's a guy whose allergy to facts is epic. Read the actual court papers? Research the issues? Nahhh, that would be wrong.

      • Most of the tech journalism I come across is nothing but regurgitation of company press releases. In some cases, the journalist is a shill, in others he or she is merely lazy. In some cases, the writer is trolling, the goal being page hits. I think Lyons is both a troll and a shill. There are exceptions, of course. (Steve Gilmore is pretty good, especially on topics such as RSS and collaboration. He gets it.)

        What is refreshing about Groklaw is that PJ and the Groklaw volunteers actually do research, someth
    • by Sesostris III (730910) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:37PM (#7867895)
      I have to agree. To be frank, my view is that the impact of the Groklaw site will reverberate far beyond the bounds of the SCO case, Linux and the GNU GPL.

      What PJ has done with Groklaw is what investigative journalists should be doing in the more *serious* papers. Unlike (say) Woodward or Bernstein (of Watergate fame), most modern journalists seem to be purely interested in controversy (which sells) rather than truth. Unfortunately, this focus on sensationalism can be exploited for ulterior motive, and can be more akin to news manipulation than news reporting.

      I think with sites such as Groklaw there may be a shift back again to the reporting for detailed truth rather than for sensation. OK, PJ is not a reporter, but she is a researcher, and research is something reporters are meant to do (as well as paralegals!).

      It also shows that it is possible for individuals to make the detailed truth of a matter available to all, even if the 5th Estate refuses to do its job! Hopefully others will be encouraged by PJ's example.
  • I for one... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tuxette (731067) * <tuxette@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @11:57AM (#7867176) Homepage Journal
    ...would like to congratulate Pamela Jones for a job well done. It's especially refreshing to see a woman who doesn't have some kind of techie degree so active in and passionate about the open source movement!

    Having a graduate degree in a funky fusion of computer science and law, I know all to well about the challenges involved in getting the geeks, lawyers, and everyone else, involved or not involved, to understand one another. It is a challenge to write and explain things in a way with a goal of getting as many people as possible to understand what is written and where the fewest people feel like they are being patronized, belittled, hearing "old news," etc. From what I can see (maybe others think differently), Jones does a good job in meeting that challenge.

    I hope to see other cases on Groklaw, in addition to all the SCO stuff, both from the US and the rest of the world. I'll be more than willing to contribute stuff. Just keep the site going!

    • Re:I for one... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ir0b0t (727703) <mjewell.openmissoula@org> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:38PM (#7867899) Homepage Journal
      Pamela Jones' story inspires me. I struggle with technical topics, and her description of how she escaped MS in the law office by using knoppix and Mandrake was helpful to me. I'm not always sure whether the opensource community realizes how much it has to offer other professions --- esp. the legal profession which can (on bad days) be so adversarial that the benefits of more community-centered approaches to problem-solving are missed. ***
  • by ksp (203038) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @12:01PM (#7867191) Homepage
    If the legal department of IBM ever doubted Open Source and that model of cooperation, I expect Groklaw has convinced them of the success you can achieve by free discussion. If I were an IBM lawyer I would check Groklaw several times every day and keep notes. I really believe Pamela Jones has made a difference that will work in favor of Linux. Thanks, PJ!!
  • They stole our award! Let's DoS them into oblivion..

  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {1_ecrofhtrae}> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @12:19PM (#7867260) Journal

    To protect her against the fanatical army of pro-SCO terrorists.

    (And every time groklaw gets /.ed, she can claim it was an attack from SCO zealouts)

    The only problem with this is that everybody knows what few techies they have left are probably too stupid to even know how to carry out such an attack.

  • by kclittle (625128) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @12:48PM (#7867401)
    ...by R.A. Heinlein. It's Martian for "understand deeply". I also personally believe that "geek" is Martian for "terribly attractive".

    • by gaijin99 (143693) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:29PM (#7867866) Journal
      ...by R.A. Heinlein. It's Martian for "understand deeply".
      Well, not to get "I'm geekier than you", but "deeply" doesn't quite have the right emphisis. The root of grok was "drink", and metaphorically "to become one with". Which meant that grok, in the understanding sense, would mean to understand perfectly and completely.
      In an effort to avoid becoming completly geeky, I have avoided looking up the page number where Mike explans this :)
      I also personally believe that "geek" is Martian for "terribly attractive".
      If not martian it should mean that in some language. 'Course, I tend to think it means that in English; my GF is a geek too.
    • I also personally believe that "geek" is Martian for "terribly attractive".

      Main Entry:

      geek
      Pronunciation: 'gEk
      Function: noun
      Etymology: probably from English dialect geek, geck fool, from Low German geck, from Middle Low German
      Date: 1914
      1 : a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
      ...

      Actually, it's English for someone who bites the heads off live chickens. I suppose some people might find that terribly attractive. Or

      • "Actually, it's English for someone who bites the heads off live chickens. I suppose some people might find that terribly attractive"

        Anyone who finds it terribly attractive would have such specialised tastes that you wouldn't have to worry about them leaving you for someone else.

        The same is mostly true for all of the lonely 'unique' types, too.
  • by scons (633185) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:16PM (#7867816)
    In addition to asking, "What are the three things you like best about open source software?" and "What are the five things you dislike most about proprietary software?" I really really really wish the interviewer had asked, "What are the N things you like least about open source software?"

    Jones is a savvy user, and her ideas for what needs improvement would be valuable, provided we listen and react to input such as hers. The props are nice, but don't help identify what we need to improve as much as good, honest feedback does.

    On the whole, though, a pretty good interview...

  • The SCO case is to wannabes what the Condit case was to trailer trash.
  • Groklaw has become an indespensible site for geeks who need even more SCO updates than even /. provides

    Don't most SCO updates on /. come from Groklaw?

    Hope both sites keep up the good work in 2004 and both post the headline "SCO case thrown out of court" soon.
  • Excellent interview - thanks, Linux Planet.
    On the last page, though, Sun get thrown in with MS again, for being "the other licensee".
    This is not a particularly clear-thinking view:
    • Sun, as a Unix developer (unlike MS) have a legitimate reason for licensing UNIX from the current holders, and making sure they've got everything they need for their future plans.
    • Those plans, as claimed by Sun, is to improve Solaris on the x86 platform and beyond (yes, even getting to SCO's level of support for some hardware
    • I don't think that Sun has ever really figured out exactly what to do with the x86 platform. They have tried to both have their own hardware (Cobalt servers) and provide a platform neutral software solution (Solaris for x86) as well as provide a Linux solution (we tested my employer's product on a Sun Cobalt server with Sun's OEM version of Red Hat - called White Rabbit - about a year ago). None of these initiatives have been that successful in either market share or revenue.

      You may be right that they si
      • I think you're right; Sun's x86 strategy has been all over the place before Linux even came into the picture.
        With JDS, they are finally getting that they can do the sums (the analysts knock them for doing only high-level stuff, the customers knock them for ignoring Linux) - remain one of the few high-end server companies, and get the so-called "volume" market (high volume, low margin, which Sun don't like) together. Translation of Marketing Buzzwords: JDS=Java Desktop System; JES=Java Enterprise System -

  • Anyone else get these two sites confused?

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