This week I'm grateful for four years of your attention on our blog. In June of 2005 I took the first steps into the media that was called Weblogs at the time, and your support of us has kept the news business lively, fun and a-pace of the action in 21st Century computing.
Fun comes most obviously on April 1, when journalists follow the tradition of the faux news story. We talked about a Treeware Project, and a development mission to rewrite MPE/iX as social networking software. On our first two blog Aprils the Fool's Day fell on a weekend, so we had to set the comedy aside. We've also reported on a $7 HP 3000, which was no joke, and how HP blew up Unix and NonStop servers with C4 to prove how good they were.
There's also been fun in reporting the news people would rather not have made public. It usually requires public sources, people who are willing to take a chance on speaking up. The stand-up, on-the-record sources have become tougher to find over the 25 years I've written about the HP computer environment. The trend might seem safer for those who don't speak up. But it puts everybody who needs adaptation and new ideas at risk.
Perhaps there will be a renaissance in relationships between software vendors and their customers. But here, heading into our fifth year of reporting weekdays on the blog, it seems the suppliers of technology are spooking too many customers into caution -- when those customers need action and honesty from the vendors about their options. It's baffling that a company will support a vendor with cash in this rough economy, than cringe at the vendor's displeasure should the truth ever be told in an unfavorable light.
How you will ever ensure a productive relationship with a vendor which cashes checks and tells you to keep quiet, well, I don't know. It would be untoward to call it blackmail, but the integrity of such an arrangement is a hoary mess. What's the redress for an unhappy customer? The ancients back in the 20th Century used to run companies with complaint departments. Now if you buy Oracle you're barred from reporting on its performance, right in the contract.
As a more local example, spreading word that a 3000 installation can't be PCI DSS compliant doesn't tell the whole truth, or even a decent share of it. That Ecometry continues to do this, in the face of third-party solutions to the contrary, makes it plain who the company is working for. That would be its shareholders and officers, rather than the customers who mail support checks every month.
What's more, a user group that meets in private, and keeps its discussion under wraps, doesn't seem to be working for any 3000 homesteaders who use Ecometry. It certainly isn't of much use to anyone who's outside the meeting room until somebody goes public. Over my quarter-century, and four years of blogging, I've learned that going offline to resolve an issue can be that trap-door you see in the James Bond movies. You watch and say,"Don't stand there," but people still step onto the "give me your business card so we can discuss this" chute.
Happily, there are still independent and intelligent IT pros who see the benefit of keeping discussions out in the open. Blogs push us journalists into new reporting processes, because we don't have to wait for ink and paper to dry and mail anymore. The new beta-culture makes it plain that the myth of journalism's perfection is just that, a fantasy. Newspaper people—and I started as one almost 30 years ago—see their articles as finished products of their work. Bloggers—and every journalist blogs today—see posts as part of the process of learning.
These new practices help me get more information out there faster than the old days of envelopes and staples and weeks of knowing but being unable to tell. Everyone whose help I've received for a story should know that a "off-the-record" or background-only request is an automatic yes, unless I have to say no or abandon the story. But there's a story to tell every Monday through Friday here, a joy and sometimes a challenge. Thanks for keeping your eyes on us and our new news culture since 2005.