Tuesday Apr 07, 2009

On Sun's Board?

On Monday and Tuesday I had calls from a persistent journalist trying to get me to comment on the rumoured IBM/Sun negotiations. My reply was the same as it has been to everyone else who has asked - "what way would you like me to say 'no comment'?" - but I wondered why she was bothering me, a fairly small and isolated cog in the big machine.

Yesterday evening, someone showed me the BusinessWeek listings for Sun's Board and suddenly I understood the attention. As you'll see from the snapshot to the right, I appear to have been promoted to Sun's Board.

Before you start to throw accusations my way, look at the original page. If you scroll further (assuming the page hasn't been withdrawn yet), you'll see some other unexpected names with incorrect affiliations. They are all, like me, members of the OpenSPARC Board (shown as a Board Committee by BusinessWeek).

Oops. Someone working from search results can't tell the difference between Sun's Board of Directors and the advisory board of an open source project.

I had always assumed that a publication like BusinessWeek would fact-check this sort of page all the way to eternity, but clearly they have not. It makes you wonder just how much else in the media is fact-based and how much is a random construction by a novice in a hurry. I've advised the Editor-in-Chief, let's see what happens next.

Update 11pm BST: I just got a reply from a person at BusinessWeek. He's clearly cutting and pasting a form letter and hasn't even checked how serious the error is. He says:

The fastest way to have the error corrected is to use the "Update/report content errors" link in the "Companies Toolbox," which is found in the left margin of every CIC page in the CIC. Doing so instantly puts the accurate data in the hands of the researchers who will investigate your report and, if necessary, make the change. Be sure to fill out the short form completely.

I've replied saying I have no idea what the correct data is and why don't they check some official sources. Watch this space.

Update 1:45am Thu: No news from BusinessWeek and I'm heading to bed. Decided that despite the fact I am not an authority I'd better fill out their form - I just sent a pointer to this page. Hey, BusinessWeek, go look at the SEC filings, they are definitive.

Update 1pm Thu: The plot thickens. Seems no-one at BusinessWeek can alter the page; they have referred the matter to a division of Standard & Poor called CapitalIQ. I'm assured it has been "forwarded on priority to our research staff for review."  Right now I am still on the Board, though, seems I may have missed a meeting on Tuesday according to press reports. That are presumably as accurate as this data...

Update 2:45am Fri: Heading to bed with BusinessWeek still unchanged. E-mail during the day shows Sun's Investor Relations people sent full, correct details a day ago that can be verified against the SEC filings. Rather surprised there has been no attempt to fix anything yet after > 48 hours.

Update 11pm Fri: BusinessWeek just sent a note apologising for the error and saying correcting the error "involves a team in India removing it from a data feed, so it may take a day or two to show up on the site." My analysis is on my personal blog.

Update Apr 13, 1:45pm: Just got an e-mail from CapitalIQ in India to say they have updated their database so it now includes only the actual members of Sun's board. They say "The same should start reflecting on BusinessWeek in a day or so."

Update Apr 13, 5pm: Tweet from BusinessWeek tells me I am no longer on the Board; sadly, Jose Renau and Robert Ober (of the OpenSPARC Board) still are...

Update April 14, 4:25pm BS: All the names I know to be wrong have now been removed. Well done, BusinessWeek - that proves you're a weekly!

Thursday Mar 26, 2009

Forcing Dutch procurement to be transparent

You may remember last September I published an interview with crusading Dutch IT journalist Brenno de Winter. During our meeting, we discussed the sorry state of ICT procurement in Europe and the findings from a research group that many tenders illegally specified products rather than technologies.

Brenno decided to do something about it and started a project using Holland's freedom of information act to force disclosure of tenders. I had the chance to meet him again yesterday and to record another dueling podcast (Brenno's version is on his site) discussing his progress so far, especially the collaborative website where. Impressive and unusually energetic and imaginative journalism that I'd like to see elsewhere.

[MP3 | Ogg]

Saturday Jun 28, 2008

Pot, Kettle and the required EULA

ZDNet's Community Firewall

Having held fire for a few days to make sure I was cool-headed, I was about to go to comment on a poisonous little posting on a ZDNet journalist blog. I wrote a cool-headed reply and clicked "post".

Then I found that despite the appearance of openness (no hint on the comment form of all this), ZDNet has no interest in "community comment". They are actually cynically trying to capture reader data so they can "monetise" it.

To post a comment, I would have to go through a multi-step registration process and fill out the form shown over to the right (which requires personal information including a postal address, requires I accept their EULA and is set to "opt in" for spam by default - I have annotated the version on Flickr if you click through). There's no way I am doing that. I suggest you take the same attitude to them and avoid giving them any sort of support until they fix this cynical community attitude.

The most delicious irony though is they were criticising me for poor community skills...


Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


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