As a Nefarious Media Agent…

(Another “so I can refer back to it later” post)

Every so often I get an email telling me that as a member of the media I have responsibilities. I need to get rid of the clear bias in my books. I’m having trouble figuring out what those biases are, though, as I’ve been told that I’m:

  • radically pro-BSD
  • radically anti-Linux
  • radically anti-Microsoft
  • radically anti-Oracle
  • radically opposed to commercial software
  • radically opposed to free software
  • radically opposed to sharing
  • radically opposed to people making a living
  • radically opposed to True Freedom
  • lacking all understanding of copyleft, right, and center
  • obviously opposed to all that is good and decent in the world
  • The correspondent tells me that I have a duty to be unbiased.

    So, let me make it clear:

    Two of the above are true. BSD is my tribe. And I can’t stand Oracle (the company, I’ve met many decent Oracle employees).

    As far as the rest goes, my official answer is:


    I’m a human being. I have biases. I’m not opposed to commercial software, free software, open soressource software. I like people making a living. I have no problem with copyleft, although I think the BSD license is morally superior. I’ll argue that last at a con, over a drink in the bar, but I won’t get into it with Internet randos.

    But let’s go into pure practicality here.

    I make my living writing technology books.

    Many people consider my books more readable than other tech books. One way I’ve achieved that is by using storytelling techniques for fiction. But the other reason is that I have opinions, and I give them. Opinions are part of a writer’s voice.

    Human beings are social creatures. Opinions give us something for our minds to attach to. Something that expresses opinion on the facts is far more readable than something without opinion.

    So I’m going to keep giving my opinion. If you read my books, you get my bias.

    I do try to be fair. Various Linux distributions annoy me in different ways, but most of those are the usual “unfamiliar Unix tribulations.” But I’ll vent a little about SELinux or iptables, because not getting frustrated would mean I’d never used SELinux or iptables. It’s part of how I tell the reader that I’m a real sysadmin.

    I invite you to have your own opinions. You think the GPL is better than the BSDL? Fine, use it. You think I don’t understand something? Write your own piece.

    But don’t expect me to be your mouthpiece. Or to lie about my biases.

    Yes, sometimes my opinions go too far. Nobody works in a vacuum. I’ve said offensive things, and apologized for them. Usually this is a case of “it sounded better in my head.” That’s part of being human. It’s one reason I solicit feedback on books before they’re published, to catch these things before they get out in the real world.

    This colors my view of people complaining about the media. Yes, every media channel is biased. As citizens, it’s our job to pierce our own media bubbles. I get most of my political news from an aggregator with a bias that opposes my own, specifically to counter my own bias.

    So go ahead. Disagree with me. I don’t mind. Really, I don’t even care. The world is full of opinions. I’m not going to argue with you.

    Admittedly, if you sign a contract with Oracle I’m gonna snicker.

    But I’ll try to be polite, and do it behind your back.

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