Whisper Chain Gets It Wrong

Whispering Grasses

It's interesting looking at the way the whisper chain twists comments. At OSBC in London yesterday I answered a question about whether the open sourcing of Sun's Java implementation is years away. I replied as I usually do, indicating it's "months rather than years", making it clear that the way to interpret that comment is that it's double-digit months and not September! So the usual press sensationalism then took that comment out of its context to create the story that's in InfoWorld today.

Right at the top is something I did not say - that Sun is "months" away from releasing its trademark Java programming language under an open-source license with the normal usage implication that goes with that phrase. The Inquirer then joins the whisper chain and gets it even more wrong, saying Sun has indicated that it is only a few months from releasing Java under an open source licence - my word, it will be down to weeks soon at the rate the whisper chain is working.

The article does correctly point out the nature of the challenge, namely maintaining true compatibility. To be clear, The Sun Java team is working hard on the the decisions involved in open sourcing the Java platform, but the sheer size of the challenge means it's not going to happen in the next few weeks - come on, folks, get real. In best open source tradition, it will be ready when it's ready. All I am saying is it's really happening and that point is likely to be way sooner than the distant future Sun's detractors would like to imply!


Simon, I'm not sure why you think "months not years" means double-digit months. It certainly doesn't mean that to me. To me, there's nothing in there that precludes single-digit months.

Posted by Swashbuckler on June 27, 2006 at 10:14 PM PDT #

That's why I am being very clear here, like I was at OSBC, that I mean double-digit months :-)

Posted by Simon Phipps on June 27, 2006 at 10:26 PM PDT #

FWIW, my "I don't think that Sun would like to promote the message that open source Java has, for the most part, already been done, without them contributing." was a guess why noone from Kaffe/gcj/GNU Classpath folks was on stage at JavaOne when Green announced Sun's new intentions.

The prelude to that quote makes it sound a bit more contraversial than it was meant to be. :)

/me waves and quickly goes back to the busy real life atm.

Posted by Dalibor Topic on June 28, 2006 at 12:20 AM PDT #

> I replied as I usually do, indicating it's > "months rather than years", making it clear that > the way to interpret that comment is that it's > double-digit months and not September! That's \*anything\* but clear. Why didn't you just say that it was "double-digit" months away if that's what you meant?

Posted by Jason Anderson on June 29, 2006 at 02:41 AM PDT #

Simon, You seem like a smart guy, but your idea of "clear" and the majority of the public's idea of "clear" are entirely different. Being a linguist, I would suggest you realize not everybody things like an engineer. ;) "I replied as I usually do, indicating it's "months rather than years", making it clear that the way to interpret that comment is that it's double-digit months and not September!" \^\^\^ It'll take two or three reading passes for most people to know what you're talking about here. A much easier way to handle this would have been saying "you're right, although possibly only a year and 6 months". You've basically affirmed what they said when they said it would take "years". ;) 18 months is 1.5 years. So why all this fancy months but not this september so i mean double digit months nonsense? It's going to be years, at least more than one. :)

Posted by David on June 29, 2006 at 03:52 AM PDT #

All interesting comments. However, no-one listening in context has ever been confused, and neither was this journalist.

Posted by Simon Phipps on June 29, 2006 at 04:47 AM PDT #

I am confused as to why there is a "sheer size of the challenge". Don't you: 1. Make a decision to open source (something which Sun clearly hasn't really done yet). 2. pick an open source license 3. write a script to stick that license on the top of each file in the source 4. put it on your web site Unless of course Sun hasn't really committed to open source and is trying to figure out a way to look like it has released the source, without actually letting it go.

Posted by Ari Maniatis on July 04, 2006 at 02:23 AM PDT #

You can never tell how a reporter is going to report what you say. I discussed the University of Southampton's recent installation of a cluster running Windows with a reporter from Computing. I commented that there were some people who were looking at running Solaris on clusters (thinking in part of the Sun press releases about Tsubame which mention Solaris). The reporter summed up my comments with the line "the trend in university clusters is towards Sun's Solaris"...

Posted by Phillip Fayers on July 04, 2006 at 03:09 AM PDT #

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