The Satirized Is the Satirist, or Who Bought the “Journalists”?

Wednesday 3 June 2015 by Bradley M. Kuhn

I watched the most recent Silicon Valley episode last night. I laughed at some parts (not as much as a usual episode) and then there was a completely unbelievable tech-related plot twist — quite out of character for that show. I was surprised.

When the credits played, my draw dropped when I saw the episode's author was Dan Lyons. Lyons (whose work has been promoted by the Linux Foundation) once compared me to a communist and a member of organized crime (in, Forbes, a prominent publication for the wealthy) because of my work enforcing the GPL.

In the years since Lyons' first anti-software freedom article (yes, there were more), I've watched many who once helped me enforce the GPL change positions and oppose GPL enforcement (including allies who once received criticism alongside me). Many such allies went even further — publicly denouncing my work and regularly undermining GPL enforcement politically.

Attacks by people like Dan Lyons — journalists well connected with industry trade associations and companies — are one reason so many people are too afraid to enforce the GPL. I've wondered for years why the technology press has such a pro-corporate agenda, but it eventually became obvious to me in early 2005 when listening to yet another David Pogue Apple product review: nearly the entire tech press is bought and paid for by the very companies on which they report! The cartoonish level of Orwellian fear across our industry of GPL enforcement is but one example of many for-profit corporate agendas that people like Lyons have helped promulgate through their pro-company reporting.

Meanwhile, I had taken Silicon Valley (until this week) as pretty good satire on the pathetic state of the technology industry today. Perhaps Alec Berg and Mike Judge just liked Lyons' script — not even knowing that he is a small part of the problem they seek to criticize. Regardless as to why his script was produced, the line between satirist and the satirized is clearly thinner than I imagined; it seems just as thin as the line between technology journalist and corporate PR employee.

I still hope that Berg and Judge seek, just as Judge did in Office Space, to pierce the veil of for-profit corporate manipulation of employees and users alike. However, for me, the luster of their achievement fades when I realize at least some of their creative collaborators participate in the central to the problem they criticize.

Shall we start a letter writing campaign to convince them to donate some of Silicon Valley's proceeds to Free Software charities? Or, at the very least, to convince Berg to write one of his usually excellent episodes about how the technology press is completely corrupted by the companies on which they report?

Posted on Wednesday 3 June 2015 at 17:15 by Bradley M. Kuhn.

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Both previously and presently, I have been employed by and/or done work for various organizations that also have views on Free, Libre, and Open Source Software. As should be blatantly obvious, this is my website, not theirs, so please do not assume views and opinions here belong to any such organization. Since I do co-own with my wife, it may not be so obvious that these aren't her views and opinions, either.

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