Thursday Nov 11, 2010

The Story of a Tweet - Oracle's Premium JVM

This is the story of a tweet...

Last week Adam went to QCon San Francisco to talk about "The Road Ahead for Java". Adam covered the Java SE Strategy, presented by Oracle at JavaOne via a PR, keynotes and sessions like S319476 by Paul and Henrik. The relevant section from the PR is:

The Oracle JDK and Java Runtime Environment (JRE) will continue to be available as free downloads, with no changes to the existing licensing models.

Premium offerings such as JRockit Mission Control, JRockit Real Time, Java for Business and Enterprise Support will continue to be made available for an additional charge.

Now, I don't know what exact words Adam used to describe the premium services but Michael Nygard posted this tweet:

"It's our intent to have a premium version of the JDK." Said in addition to the open source JDK. #qconsf

Nothing wrong there, it's just a tweet; and maybe Adam even used those exact words.  The only problem is what happened afterwards.

That one tweet was retweeted heavily, somewhere in the process was reinterpreted as "premium JVM" and given all sorts of extra attributes, was then taken as truth by some journalists , and was then further spread through news, blogs and tweets. The whole thing moved quickly around the world. The original tweet was Saturday, the 6th, I spent 5 minutes at Google News yesterday, only looked at a few local editions, and came up with these stories:

Plus discussions at DZone, SlashDot, The Server Side, and multiple mailing lists.

All of this from a single tweet, "validated" by "the press".

Several of us spent a fair amount of time over the weekend trying to point folks to the correct information. Yesterday, Henrik got an extra-quick approval for an official Oracle's JVM Strategy and Dalibor then used it in Extra! Extra! Oracle Premium JVM! Read all about it! and I'm using it in this note. But it's much easier to spread misinformation than to correct it; go through the list above and see how many are publishing corrections...

The moral? To me there are two:

  • Journalists (and bloggers and tweeters) should remember this quote from Graeme Philipson (via @robilad):
       journalists must be vigilant for the facts in an online era of instant disinformation
  • And readers need to use your judgment when reading news.

Sounds like motherhood and apple-pie, but good reminders for all of us...

And before going back to our normal topics, I'll mention that last week saw a similar fire-drill around InnoDB and MySQL - see Get The Facts: MySQL Licensing and Pricing.

PS. And, to be extra clear, I do not blame Michael at all; his tweet was totally fine.