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Video SJVN Tells How Reporting on Linux Has Changed in the Last 10 Years (Video) 79

SJVN is, of course, the well-known nickname and abbreviation for Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols, who has been covering technology as a journalist since... since longer than he cares to admit... and has been covering Linux and FOSS since the 1990s. This was basically a one-question interview: "How has reporting on Linux changed in the last 10 years?" After that, except for a couple of words requesting clarifications, we just let the webcam roll. (Note: if you know someone who would make a good Slashdot video interview victim, please put us in touch with them. Thanks.)
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SJVN Tells How Reporting on Linux Has Changed in the Last 10 Years (Video)

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  • Great guy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Johnny Mister ( 2610721 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @08:03AM (#39583155)
    Before he started working as journalist, he was a programmer and a system administrator, so I can see where he is coming from and why Linux interests him. Back in the early 90's I worked very closely with him and it was a blast. He actually has contributed a lot to the Windows kernel and where from Microsoft took most of his good ideas to Windows and which later became the most successful OS ever produced. On OS X side, he has contributed to the creation of Linux like distro system, called App Store, and many of the technology aspects of it come from him.

    It's great to see he is still covering Linux and FOSS in general, after 20 years. Awesome fella.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 )
      Even though he is a great guy. He isn't much of a public speaker. He isn't horrible but isn't that great, he should have put his commentary in texts and had us read it, I think we would have gotten more out of it.
      • What the hell, the parent does not deserve a flamebait mod for merely stating an opinion like this!
      • This is true of pretty much anyone. Or maybe it's just that I find reading a transcript is less prone to distractions, easier to break off and restart, and (last but not least) considerably faster.

  • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Thursday April 05, 2012 @08:08AM (#39583179) Homepage

    Do people really want video stories? I thought it was just the old-media newspapers that pushed them because you can't skip ads as easily in a stream as you can on a website.

    It takes ages to sit through a video with someone talking, compared to reading a transcription, so a written story is obviously superior.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Yes I do, but as a rss podcast feed, not as a part of a news website. I watch the stuff on TWIT a lot, but those are full professionally produced shows.

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      Absolutely; I will read an interesting article at my desk at work, but I'll be damned if let my boss catch me watching tv at work, unless it's another balloon boy or 9/11 event. Maybe some bored slashdotter will post the transcript for the rest of us.

    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

      Superior *for the user*, but the ads will be harder to block in a video. You know that's where this is going.

      Didn't watch this one in case it's another Plantronics stunt.

      • Superior *for the user*,

        I am a user, and I tell you: no, I don't feel that video is superior. First, the human brain is faster at reading than at listening. Second, I spend 8 hours per day at work. Not necessarily working, but I don't really want to make that distinction obvious by blaring it out of my PC's loudspeakers. And third: this is slashdot, we're supposed to hate flash. So if you post a video, why don't you at least use a sane format?

        Video is ok if it is actually needed (showing something happening that is visually appea

        • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

          Maybe I wasn't clear enough, but the GP said, "a written story is obviously superior," and my "Superior for the user" was following on from that. We agree that the video isn't superior for the user. I suspect that it's superior for the advertiser (or multiple advertisers throughout the same video), and that that's why we're getting this shoved down our throats.

        • I think there is a place for both. Human communication isn't just about effieciency. I enjoyed larning a little about this guy, picking up some context, hearing his humor and inflections etc. It's not just about rapid information transfer.

    • Amen to that.

      Should there not be a "Video Content" topic flag and a corresponding filter option?

      • There's supposed to be a whole new section [] just for this shit, but for some reason they can't use it consistently.

        • There's also idle...

          Give us videos if it's about explosions, or nifty quadricopters hovering accross the room, or planes slamming into buildings, or police beating the crap out of some poor helpless geek. But if it's just some boring guy reading his submission from a sheet, then printed text is way more appropriate.

    • me too! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @09:25AM (#39583839) Homepage Journal
      I rarely bother to look at a story on any site if it's just a link to a video.

      I mean, it's nice that we can (sort of) do video on the web now, but we don't need to use it for every damn thing. Video may be more engaging for most viewers, but you're forced to consume it at it's pace. You can't just leave a page open and dip in to read a paragraph or two in and idle moment. You can't really search within video. And most of the time, you need to have sound enabled to get the most out of a video.

      tl;dr - video has some advantages, but you lose a whole lot of what makes the web so goddamned useful.
      • You can't really search within video.

        Exactly. And this makes most of those video tutorials on youtube so stupid: most people won't even find them because google doesn't index the spoken word (yet).

        Moreover, you can't print out the tutorial either before walking down to the NOC, or to a remote customer's site, as you could with a written tutorial.

    • by Bill Dimm ( 463823 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @09:26AM (#39583855) Homepage

      Most of the videos posted as stories recently have been advertisements. The cynic in me says that this guy paid to have this posted to get publicity for himself, which would only be achieved via video (who notices the byline in a written article?). I wouldn't have suggested such a thing a few months ago, but with the way Slashdot has been run recently the motivation behind the stories that are posted has become murky.

    • Ads in Videos (Score:5, Insightful)

      by b5bartender ( 2175066 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @11:20AM (#39585499)
      If a stream starts with an Ad first, it's killed without being watched. End of story. The only thing worse are those web articles presented in "slideshow" format to maximize ad revenue.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Do people really want video stories? I thought it was just the old-media newspapers that pushed them because you can't skip ads as easily in a stream as you can on a website.

      Hell, old media does it better. The old newspapers put up a text article but include a video sometimes because video sometimes expresses things better than text ever could. But the core content was in the text. Plus because they're old media, they stick to traditional techniques including, surprise suprrise, editing!

      It's the new media

    • It takes ages to sit through a video with someone talking, compared to reading a transcription, so a written story is obviously superior.

      ... and moreover people can't listen to it at work, because either their computer has no audio, or people don't want half of the open plan office knowing that you're not working but "reading" Slashdot.

      O, and it's flash. WTF?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you say so.

    • The Linux name is well known It is just below...
      Android (yea it is Linux but they don't call it Linux)
      OS X
      (it may have risen above DOS)

      Saying Linux has won is kinda lame. Linux found it niche market and it isn't quite what the community 10 years expected it to be. 10-15 years ago. The Linux Community Wanted Linux for the Desktop. Today we still joke that Next year will be the year of Linux on the Desktop. We didn't get it. I doubt Linux will ever win the Desktop market until the day the th
      • I haven't seen a DOS installation since the mid 1970's. By then DOS had been replaced by DOS/VMS on those old IBM Mainframes. Of course so many never needed updating, it wouldn't suprise me if there weren't a few DOS computers operating today.

        If you meant MS/DOS instead of DOS, I completely understand your ranking. Sure there might be a lot more people that know about MS/DOS than know about Linux.

        There are probably a lot more people who use Linux (Roku, Tivo, Sony Bravia TV's, Googling something, Androi

        • Let me guess, you're a GNU/Linux kind of person?

          Or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.
          Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used

          • I'm a COBOL programmer.

          • Not for long. As everything in the GNU part of it becomes GPL3, watch Linux distros come out w/ LLVM/Clang and userland features from other places, like BSD, Android, Debian and so on.
            • More fragmentation in the Linux space. Yippee!!

              Maybe GNU will move to GNU/HURD, or as I've taken to calling it, GNU plus HURD.

              • Hope it does - so that RMS stops taxing people into calling Linux GNU/Linux, and instead, using a home-grown kernel so that the FSF can claim a fully native OS. In which case, they don't even need to call it GNU/HURD - they can just call it GNU.

                Incidentally, I don't think that Linux space will be fragmented - it will simply move away from GNU so that that claim won't remain valid that it should be called GNU/Linux.

            • You mean GNU's Debian GNU/Linux software distribution, which is pretty much the largest and one of the most influential distribution in time and space (yea, I just wrote that on purpose). Maybe GPLv3 looks like the other kind of evil, disruptive for business and a dorkly way to artificially create a difference between free and open, but FOSS communities will not abandon the huge Debian repositories. Before you abandon GPLv3 by assuming it's impractical for business and a deterrent of real investment you sho
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @08:18AM (#39583241)
    I am sorry for sounding like an old phogie, but why is Slashdot doing these videos. I got 1 minute in and just stopped it because I got a choppy video and a gentleman while I am not judging him isn't that much of a public speaker. Who seems to be saying stuff that has been summarized over and over again.

    Most of us have been taught this ability to read. It is a neat skill where we take symbols and without making any noise we can convert them into a method of exchanging ideas. Most of us has gotten so good at it that we can do it much faster then we can transmit the data by voice.

    Sure some things are better with video. But an interview like this just sucks minutes from our lives. The speaker isn't really adding anything in Non-Verbal Communication, they are not using animated imagery to express a concept. We just have a guy talking about stuff. Which we could get just as well from reading it.
    • A video is often a waste of my time. I can read a transcript (if there were one) a heck of a lot faster than watching a video.
    • I agree. An example of a good video interview? Richard Feynman [] has some of the best ever. And that's partly because his enthusiasm and animated movements help interest and explain the concepts in addition to the words.

      The video in this article? Not so much.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The club of sites where video doesn't play. I almost hoped you were using Silverwhatever, but no, you somehow managed to break Flash. Well, I'm running Linux, true, but I didn't think the end of Flash has already come. Good job!

    • You didn't miss much. I watched it on windows and there wasn't much going on and the video was choppy.
  • who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @08:24AM (#39583281) Homepage

    "SJVN is, of course, the well-known nickname and abbreviation for Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols"

    Honestly, I've been a heavy linux guy for 15 years and I have never heard of this guy, or at least not have heard of him enough to recognize his nickname.

    • Re:who? (Score:4, Funny)

      by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @08:32AM (#39583331)
      Jeez, you should get out from under your rock more often. I especially like his work from the Texas Flood/Couldn't Stand the Weather years.
      • I wish I had some mod points for you, SRV is the first thing that popped into my head, too :-)

        I know who SJVN is by his full name (but thinks he's something of a windbag; the Rush Limbaugh of tech, if you will), but missed the abbreviation entirely. My first thought was that the N must be for Network and this is just YANTA (Yet Another New Tech Abbreviation) :p

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          You know, there are few things I don't like about the 21st century, but the overuse of acronyms is one of them. Is that a Disk Operating System or a Denial of Service attack?

          They should fucking SPELL IT OUT. To not do so is just laziness.

          • SJVN is the mnemonic for "That Guy In That One Video In That One Slashdot Article Saying Something Before I Got Lazy And Moved To Comments Instead Of Watching" ... I believe TGITOVITOSASSBIGLAMTCIOW was too long so they shortened it.Also, the abbreviation sounded a little weird...
    • Just a way for them leets (wouldn't it be cool if there were a special way to spell that?) to feel superior to us under-rock-dwellers who prefer text to choppy video.

    • Nope, I can't say I've ever heard of him either. However, after listening to what he has to say - I'm not too surprised. His views don't appear to be very profound or insightful and I can't say that his piece made me sit up and reconsider anything.

      So it turns out that he's just a guy with some rather pedestrian views. Fair enough, but hardly worthy of recognition.

  • Transcript (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuasiSteve ( 2042606 ) on Thursday April 05, 2012 @08:57AM (#39583539)

    Title: How Has Reporting on Linux Changed in the Last Decade?
    Description: Steven J. Vaugh-Nichols, who has been writing about Linux nearly forever, explains how much covering it has changed - for the better. For one thing, he says, he no longer has to tell people what Linux is.

    [00:00] <TITLE>
    "Tech Journalist Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols" appears along with the SlashdotTV logo bar reading "How as reporting on Linux changed in the last 10 years?" over a view of the interviewee in what appears to be a private residence room.

    [00:02] Steven>
    The last decade, well, you know, the thing is, we've won.
    We haven't really realized it 'cos we didn't win the way that we thought we would, you know, marching down the streets of Redmond holding torches and Bill Gates fleeing, in a helicopter, petting a white cat as he goes, saying "I'll get you Mr. Linus, you and your little penguins, too!" - stay tuned for the sequel.
    As a result of that, reporting about it has also sort of changed.
    Once upon a time, if I were to write anything at all about Linux, I'd have to say what Linux is and go through a lot of background information.
    I don't need to do that anymore.
    Instead, what I have to do is, I have to remind people that, you know, Linux is everywhere.
    So it's a different sort of context.
    Also, when I wrote about Linux, it used to be I could assume that my audience was pretty technical - because nobody except techies really got into Linux.
    And, again, it's sort of different now.
    Everyone sort of knows about Linux, so I don't have to get really technical about it, but again I sort of have to remind them of where Linux is in today's computer world - which is, again, you know, it's everywhere.

    [01:30] <TITLE>
    The SlashdotTV logo bar with "What about Android?" fades in and out of view.

    [01:30] Steven>
    Android is actually, again, it's one of those areas that we're winning in.
    I mean, sure, all the excitement is about iPhones, but you know Linux - rather, Android - which, again, is just Linux - it's just an embedded Linux, that's all it is, folks! - is pretty much in all these devices.
    If you have a smartphone, if you have a tablet, if it's not an iPhone, if it's not an iPad, it's almost certainly running Android.
    The way I see it spinning out is, you know, people who just absolutely have to have that nifty, cool, Apple device.. okay, they're gonna buy that, they'll pay a premium for it.
    But for everybody else, it's going to be Android.

    [02:18] <TITLE>
    The SlashdotTV logo bar with "Is Oracle relevant to Linux?" fades in and out of view.

    [02:18] Steven>
    As far as the patents go, I've been following that pretty darn closely.
    Not as closely as Pamela Jones over at Groklaw does - and her friends.
    But, you know, the bottom line is.. out of all the patents that Oracle brought up against Android, only two of those remain.
    Of those two, their own expert came out and said "Well, the damages from this would probably come to something like, you know, maybe, maybe, high end $70M or $80M. If, if, Google is found guilty."
    Now, $70M or $80M, I mean that's a lot of money to you and me - but for companies the size of Google and Oracle?
    I mean, that's a hiccup.
    I mean, that's a footnote.
    If you wanna talk about a company that has actually made real money from Android and hasn't had a thing to do with it, the company you wanna talk about is Microsoft.
    Because they've got all these cross-licensing deals with the OEMs, because the OEMs are a little scared of Microsoft, so they'll just pay off these patent deals without actually trying to fight them.
    It wouldn't surprise me to know that Microsoft actually makes more money from Android than they do from their Windows Phone or Mobile CE or one of the other various mobile platforms they have now.
    Oracle, though - You know, it's turned into a non-story.

    [03:54] <TITLE>
    The SlashdotTV logo bar with "What about Oracle L

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      TL;DR, Too bad there isn't a video.
    • Thank you very much sir! I was able to read that a whole lot faster than a video. And thank you for pointing out how I missed out on the annoying slashdot bars popping up and fading out of view. How irritating that would be.
  • ...under "absolutely clueless" a few years ago. Can't remember the specifics as to why exactly I did right now - I think it was related to some inflammatory bullshit "articles" about GNU/Linux on CNet or something, but I have no reason to believe I misjudged him back then. So I'll pass.

  • Hmmm... Hadn't heard of the guy. Are you sure SJVN isn't an obscure version of the Bible?

  • About 14 years ago I told a close friend that one day Linux would rule the technology marketplace and Microsoft wasn't going to last. He didn't believe me.

    Well, today, the first half of that is more or less true. Linux is in every set-top box out there, TVs, phones, and probably things I've not even heard of - and it's predominant in all those areas. Android sales are almost 60 times as high as Windows Phone sales. All this despite 12 years ago Linux being a marginal hobbyist and academic OS, with the most

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, Linux is everywhere. It's just unfortunate that it happens to be through something as proprietary as Android. I feel very bad for all of us.

    • Linux rules in places where the OS simply doesn't matter.

      Android is all about the Java based API, they could run Android on BSD, or pretty much any OS and the apps would not be the wiser. That's hardly a win for Linux.

  • The difference is that in 1992, 1993 was going to be the year of Linux on the desktop.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!