Here's my problem with many rogue coders, hackers, Open Source cultists

Here's my problem with many rogue coders, hackers, Open Source cultists

Summary: I'll call a spade a spade here.Too many hackers, coders, and open source religionists are elitists.

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I'll call a spade a spade here.

Too many hackers, coders, and ubuntulogo1.png open source religionists are elitists. They think they know better, and are better, than you and me. But they are not.

I've been carrying around this 'tude for a long time, but it's really been bubbling in my brain since yesterday when I read a comment on my post about Ubuntu not really mattering that much now.

Commenters such as that guy, and others, like to hurl back a bunch of initials, acronyms and jargon to describe why their work- and sometimes just benevolent mischief- is so important.

Yes, but to whom?

In that vein, let me expound on my elitist charge.

For starters, let's take cellphone or PDA users.

The vast majority of them simply want to make calls, text, maybe snap and send a picture, maybe email, IM or even Twitter.

When it comes to unsactioned hacks, third party apps, and devices that can- to quote "The Dukes of Hazard," do "a little bit more than the law will allow," most users could give a rip.

Let me ask you a question. Stop 100 cellphone users and ask them, "what's Ubuntu?" Maybe 1 in 100 would know.

Truth is, the other 99 don't need to know, because they carry around their cell to do the basic tasks their carrier and OEM have determined they need, and have taken the time to install on those devices. And busy with everything from saving up for their kid's college to staying ahead of the mortgage crunch, one of the last things they could give a poop about are some cool new hacks for their mobile.

The same general principle exists with notebooks and PCs, especially on the consumer (as opposed to enterprise) side. Ubuntu-powered Dell? Well that's OK, but do you think even 10% of consumers care? In the read world, it is more like give me Microsoft Office, Outlook Express, maybe iTunes, some games. Don't give me hacks or alphabet soup utilities, remedies or solutions.

Back again to my elitist charge.

To many of you rogue open source cultists, hackers and coders will look at the 1 in 100 opine I have constructed and say either or:

The other 99% will love all this new stuff when it is made available to them, or;

The other 99% are idiots, because they haven't heard of, or don't "get" the technologically transformative import of what we digerati are working on.

Well, dude, they don't get it because they have lives, and your alphabet soup of a solution doesn't matter to them.

A final thought. There's a lot in common between the reality distortion field too many rogue technological elitists live in and the reality distortion field of Ron Paul fans.

Just as the rogue coders, hackers and Open Source cultists overlook the daily concerns of the common folk, Ron Paul fans often overlook the fact that his platform professes little if any need to help common folk who are struggling to, say, avoid foreclosure.

Oh, but it is the common person's fault they are about to be foreclosed on.

Oh, but it is the common person's fault they don't realize that we rogue hackers, coders and open source cultists are trying to make their devices- and lives- better.

Common thread: lack of feel for the common person, and lack of respect for their life's priorities.

Poll now.

[poll id=200]

Topics: Mobility, Open Source, Security

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24 comments
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  • Understating the case

    [i]In the read world, it is more like give me Microsoft Office, Outlook Express, maybe iTunes, some games. Don?t give me hacks or alphabet soup utilities, remedies or solutions.[/i]

    No, in the real world it is more like, "let me write letters, do spreadsheets, email, some music, some games." If people know the brand names thanks to ubiquitous marketing it's usually because they don't know that there's a difference between "downloadable music" and "iTunes."

    I spent eight years doing slide presentations to a group and once some of them asked for my "Powerpoint" files and I gave them PDFs -- which is what I'd been using all along but when they couldn't get MSOffice to load them they simply couldn't grasp the idea of using anything else for slides: I displayed slides, therefore it must be MSPowerPoint.

    So, I present to you that you are, in this post, demonstrating the very "elitism" that you accuse others of: putting the technology and branding ahead of the real-life activities that most people care about.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Agree, advertising and branding is what people know

    It is sad our educational system does not teach something about computers other
    then using branded software. But all in all, I also agree people don't have to know the
    back end, BUT lets have fair open systems, API's, and standard formats and I don't
    care who created them. Then people will at the very least have choice. And we all
    want choice otherwise it is a dictatorship. Right?
    LittleGuy
  • I have yet to meet...

    anyone in IT who doesn't think they are an elitist. Myself included and bloggers especially.

    Why do you think ZDNet talkbacks get so heated. We all think we are right. Occasionally we may agree with one another. But heavan forbid if we don't.
    bjbrock
  • style pounding substance to a pulp

    I'm all for denouncing elitism, and I believe the open source community is guilty of it to some extent. Give it some credit, though. Its form of elitism is almost a pure meritocracy. As elitism goes, it's a pretty commendable form. In a world where popular=good, the fact that so many open source coders toil away at obscure projects they're simply passionate about is an inspiring anomaly.

    That said, I disagree about the importance of Ubuntu. There are many things that are vital to the functioning of our society that no one has ever heard of. Think the average Internet user knows what OC-48 is? What about Apache? The fact no one has ever heard of them doesn't diminish their importance. Again, in our world where style has been pounding substance to a pulp for years, projects like Apache hold the line. Ubuntu too.
    adamfisk@...
  • I have only one clean Genuine Microsoft product to my merit without school.

    The level of cooperation for me as an individual was two years ago and taint going into their own Corporate plans and revised charter. Conclusion, any latteral chances of coming off SSD in the USA; even as a tester does not measure in the Technologies as an Industrial managment backgroung. And, yes if you do not have CABINET.dll like I have in my Microsoft XP SP2 computer, feel free to email me; it is a free component for your Windows folder: that is all I can say about its latitude in the OS. Though, it behaves as Vista at startup to rev the hard drive everything else about it would have to be evaluated through a Partner of Microsoft (WMI) for your own confidence to talk to you friends about it in your off time.. .etc.=>humility!
    rtirman37@...
  • Message has been deleted.

    xnilo
  • I think ZDNet should just shut up

    I think the civilians should shut up and stop biting the hand which feeds you.
    n3td3v
    • The civilians.... too funny <NT>

      ...
      Scrat
  • RE: Here's my problem with many rogue coders, hackers, Open Source cultists

    Let's ask this:

    Take 100 people and ask them if they know the lift and duration of the camshaft(s) in their vehicle. How about their fuel maps? Piston compression ratio?

    Roughly 1 in 100 will.

    Now, does this make that one person an elitist? No. Put bluntly, it means they know more about the workings of an internal combustion engine.

    If you want to call those people "elitists" and say their alphabet soup doesn't matter... well don't come crying when the alphabet soup spells out C-H-E-C-K E-N-G-I-N-E.

    If you want to call us elitists, then you can elitist yourself to the Geek Squad for 400 dollars when you can't get that purple monkey off your screen.

    To call a spade a spade, yes, those hackers and coders DO know more and are able to do more. It's called being skilled. The reason they look elitist is that hardly anybody appreciates this skill. If they do, it lasts from the time that the computer breaks up until it's repaired.
    Sabz5150
  • Pick any subject in the world.

    You hear from the most vocal sides of the issue. Take politics, OSes, Office Suites, Wireless Carriers, Phone Service, were to find the best vegetables, it just doesn't matter, you always hear the most from the "vocal minority". You, having blogged for a long time now should be able to brush away the more extreme points of view and know that where ever the two extremes are, the majority are in the middle.

    So, if you pick topic XYZ, and some are slightly miffed and some are violently miffed, you know that the majority are somewhat miffed.

    Now, specific points in your current blog.

    [B] Let me ask you a question. Stop 100 cellphone users and ask them, ?what?s Ubuntu?? Maybe 1 in 100 would know.[/B]

    And what's a Mobile CE, what's a Symbina? For cell phones, yes, it truly is a consumer don't care, but Ubuntu mobile does matter now because of Android. Soon enough, mobile devices, with the sign up of many many companies, will have the freedom to develop and deploy apps widespread and mainstream. Consumers won't care or know the OS enables XYZ phone, they will look to what it enables.

    [B]The same general principle exists with notebooks and PCs, especially on the consumer (as opposed to enterprise) side. Ubuntu-powered Dell? Well that?s OK, but do you think even 10% of consumers care?[/B]

    Care about Ubuntu specifically, no, but consumers do absolutely care about the OSes even thought they can't quite put it into words. They know applications have broken, they know Apple computers are great and flocking to them, etc. So while they can't put their finger on the low level reason of what is wrong, they simply know that something is not quite right.

    TripleII

    P.S. Ask 100 people who are not technical and who haven't bought a computer in the last 2 years, "What's a Vista?"
    TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
  • RE: Here's my problem with many rogue coders, hackers, Open Source cultists

    You started out alright, but you lost me halfway through. I would say that the reason the 99% doesn't care is that open source stuff is, overall, harder for them to use and actually *isn't* as good _for_their_purposes_ as Windows, OS X, etc.

    Also, I find it highly insulting that you use your tech column to repeatedly bash Ron Paul. If you want to talk about technology, do that. Just don't mix what is usually an informed discussion about technology with your political opinions. Making two-sentence jabs at a candidate is not impressive. For example, I could say that McCain obviously doesn't care about the common man because he's all for sending them overseas to die in Iraq, and he's perfectly fine with bleeding the common man dry with increased military spending. I could say that Hilary is a hypocrite who sat on the BoD of Wal-Mart for YEARS, among other things. I could say that Obama is anti-trade and will ruin our country's competitiveness through protectionism. And finally, I could comment that Huckabee is a nutjob and a lied about his tax "cutting" record as well as his ability to operate a shotgun. Honestly, though, we don't need these silly political jabs on a technology website. They don't contribute to the discussion, and do not go into enough detail to be useful or warranted.
    gotamd@...
    • while I agree with a lot of what you say...

      "...open source stuff is, overall, harder for them to use and actually *isn't* as good _for_their_purposes_ as Windows, OS X, etc."

      Really??

      Give me some examples of OSS not being as "good" as the ones you mentioned.
      mdsmedia
      • Key Words: For Their Purposes

        Open source software is frequently not as good as proprietary software for the purposes of home users. Games, for example, are much easier to install and play under Windows than Linux (and there is more selection). Certain hardware is not [fully] supported either, such as soundcards which decode Dolby or DTS in hardware. It's really not hard to come up with examples of when proprietary software is better for a specific purpose just as it's easy to come up with examples of when open-source software is better for other specific purposes. It all comes down to the needs of the user.
        gotamd@...
  • So why are you worried

    You are right. 99% of people don't care whats running on their cell phone. Those 99% most likely don't read this site either as its geared toward the 1% that actually care about or have to work with technology to deliver a product to the 99%. If you don't want to face technologists then quit blogging about IP telephony and VOIP. 99% of cell phone users don't know what VOIP is either. You couldn't even title your blog without using one of those big bad acronyms lmao.

    Man Zdnet needs to find some decent bloggers and cover some real news.
    storm14k
  • RE: Here's my problem with many rogue coders, hackers, Open Source cultists

    The vast majority of the common folk are to distracted by these commercial weapons of mass distraction to realize that lack of biodiversity in the technology field is bad. Technology is far too important to allow it to slip into the sole possession of a closed source monopoly. Bottom line is that things like security aren't beneficial to the bottom line and without hackers we wouldn't reap the whirlwind until our entire technological infrastructure was crippled.
    asiu@...
  • Message has been deleted.

    ikorvine@...
  • Message has been deleted.

    Free_Thinker
  • RE: Here's my problem with many rogue coders, hackers, Open Source cultists

    The author totally the mark and make entirely too many generalizations. I only wish there was a more forceful negative option on the poll.

    This is the first time I've ever posted a comment on a ZDNet article because I was so appalled by your article, mostly this line:

    "...the other 99 don???t need to know, because they carry around their cell to do the basic tasks their carrier and OEM have determined they need, and have taken the time to install on those devices"

    Woa woa woa. -I- determine what I need and want, and I believe most rationale people would feel the same way. How do you know what everyone else wants? How does the carrier?

    Bottom line: you don't, they don't. People determine what they want. If, God bless them, a bunch of really smart people want to write some neat apps and offer them for free, THANK them for it and let the people decide.

    Now go sit in front of your TV and wait for it to tell you what you should believe in.
    woot@...
    • HERE!!! HERE!!!

      What an elitist load a crap!! this post is!!

      Who is Russell Shaw to tell me, one of the "elitist" 1%, what I NEED or WANT!!

      Sure...I won't bother telling my friend whose XP computer is having problems, and whose XP computer I'm going over to fix on a Saturday morning, that I use Linux and it's Linux which is going to help me help him fix his computer this morning in MY TIME!!

      He may not WANT to know about Linux, but he sure as h*ll is going to HEAR about Linux...again.... because his XP computer WOULDN'T be having the problems he's having if it wasn't for his 99% ubiquitous XP computer.
      mdsmedia
  • Elitism...

    noun - consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group

    ---

    From your post, "They think they know better, and are better, than you and me. But they are not."

    The irony is your message is the one singling out "rogue coders, hackers, Open Source cultists," as being less than you and "the rest of the world," while you criticize those very people as the one's acting like they are special.

    For that matter, I've never seen some kind of a conspiratorial group of back-alley geeks whispering about how the rest of the world is a bunch of "idiots," like how you make it out to be.

    You've gone too far. Its one thing to blatantly snub an innovation, but its another to insult the people who are working to make that innovation for everyone's betterment.
    curvedinfinity@...