% fortune -ae paul murphy

Ostracism and ghettoization

If you go to google's Mac only search page and do a search for "Paul Murphy" you won't get many recent hits. Why not? Did I stop writing about the Mac? No, but I stepped out of line by attacking the Intel decision as absurd - continuing an opinion held by most Apple community members and reporters before Jobs pulled the switch.

If you search slashdot for Paul Murphy you won't find much recent stuff either - and why not? because the regular editors have an unspoken policy: no Republicans -and no Canadians who hold right wing opinions either.

And, of course, if you try to search groklaw for my name using the (imaginary) "no:expletives" option you won't find me there either. And why? because I think SCO has a case that's threatened only by their own lawyers.

So what do these exclusions have in common; besides me, that is?

Let me quote some more from that New Republic article I mentioned on Monday:

For the netroots, partisan fidelity is the sine qua non. As Moulitsas [creator of the Dailykos] told Newsweek in 2005, "The issue is: Are you proud to be a Democrat? Are you partisan?" What they cannot forgive is Democrats or liberals who distance themselves from their party or who give ammunition to the enemy. The netroots will forgive Democrats in conservative districts for moving as far to the right as necessary to win elections. But they do everything within their power to eliminate from liberal states or districts moderates like Joe Lieberman or Jane Harman, whose stances are born of conviction rather than necessity.

If wishes were fishes groklaw's anti-SCO crusade would have led to the death penalty being imposed on McBride et al by now, slashdot's deliberate exclusion of roughly half the political opinion in the United States would not be contributing to growth at Digg, and Steve Jobs wouldn't have come to deeply regret his Intel decision - but wishes aren't fishes, and activist responses like these or the recent attempt to read Novell out of the Linux community for daring to sign a patent cross licensing agreement with Microsoft aren't helpful to anyone's cause.

In fact, that's the biggest problem with the echo chamber effect created by the ease with which the internet lets readers, and editors, avoid contrary opinion: it's self-limiting for the participants - and that's the lesson for all of us: if we don't make a conscious effort to hear and weigh contrary opinion, we become nothing but vehicles for the perpetuation of our own ever narrowing biases.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.